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Following last month's botched execution in Oklahoma, a Utah lawmaker is proposing a "humane" policy throwback: Give death row inmates the option of being executed by firing squad. Utah Rep. Paul Ray isn't the first to float this idea, efforts in both Missouri and Wyoming stalled, but there's something about Ray's argument that seems fresh.

The prisoner dies instantly. It sounds draconian. It sounds really bad, but the minute the bullet hits your heart, you're dead. There's no suffering."

The Utah republican has also turned heads by proposing some of the harshest taxes on e-cigarettes in the country and for his habit of accusing medical marijuana patients of being "morons." 

Fusillading fell out of vogue about ten years ago after Utah joined the rest of the United States in banning firing squads in 2004. But death row inmates in Utah who were sentenced to death before the ban was enacted were still given the options of being shot. In 2010, one prisoner opted for it. 

There is a commonly held belief that only one member of a firing squad has a live round and the others are given blanks, to help ease consciences at having fired a fatal shot.

In other words, one upside is that death by firing squad takes less of a toll on the executioner. Is that enough to spur a comeback?

Oklahoma, which infamously botched last month's execution of Clayton Lockett, remains the only state where firing squad is legal, but only after all other options have been exhausted. 

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.

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