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The firing squad may make a comeback

By Walter Geiger On January 17, 1977, they sat Gary Gilmore in a chair in front of a pile of sandbags in an abandoned cannery behind the Utah State Prison in Draper, Utah and pinned a target on his shirt marking his heart. Some 25 feet away was a muslin curtain with five firing ports . Five law enforcement officers who had volunteered for the job stood behind the curtain armed with .30 caliber rifles. Each rifle had one round chambered. One round of the five was a blank so no one would ever be sure if they had fired a fatal shot. Authorities had no trouble finding volunteers for the job. Gilmore had killed two men he robbed though they had complied with his demands. He killed for the hell of it. The warden asked Gilmore if he had any last words. He replied, ‘Let’s do it’. That response became the inspiration for the Nike slogan ‘˜Just Do It’ – a sick but slick advertising perversion. After an explosion of gunfire, Gilmore slumped dead in his chair. His was the first American execution in 10 years after multiple court battles over whether carrying out death sentences legally imposed by juries constituted cruel and unusual punishment. Gilmore, who had survived multiple suicides attempted in prison, died because he wanted to. He abandoned all his appeals and demanded Utah take his life. It did. Justice was served. Two other men, the latest in 2010, have been executed by firing squad in Utah since. Apparently, such a death is in accordance with Mormon beliefs. Still it has subsequently been abandoned in favor of lethal injection in Utah and elsewhere. Now, Rep. Paul Ray of Utah is seeking to bring back the firing squad after a vein collapsed during the lethal injection of Clayton Lockett last month. Those who comprise this once strong country’s soft underbelly got heartburn when Lockett didn’t die on the gurney but expired 45 minutes later of a heart attack. They conveniently ignored the fact that, 15 years previous, Lockett shot a 19-year-old girl twice with a sawed off shotgun then ordered an accomplice to bury her alive as she begged for mercy. In case you were wondering, the ACLU never stood up for the victim, Stephanie Neiman, whom Lockett had kidnapped and beaten before she died. Rep. Ray thinks the firing squad is a viable option in that those who coddle criminals while ignoring victims and their families are fighting lethal injection and the drug cocktails used in the process. ‘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,’ Ray said. And, of course, he is right. The lethal injection drugs are hard to get and, if you are paying Obamacare prices, they are expensive. Our government has intentionally run up the cost of ammo but it remains a low cost, viable and reliable alternative. The bleeding hearts (no pun intended) argue that a firing squad could miss but that is impossible using trained marksmen at a range of 25 feet. We must get over our national temerity as it relates to executions. There are more and more bad people out there doing more and more sick, perverted and wicked things to innocent people. Like Gilmore, most do it just for the hell of it. Yet, many among us want to save and attempt to rehabilitate them which is an impossible task. Gary Gilmore had it right. Bad guys and gals are plentiful. Ammo is cheap. Let’s do it! Walter Geiger is editor and publisher of The Herald Gazette.

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