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Technical details

In the US state of Utah, public pressure has forced into the open the technical manual governing the use of a firing squad for executions. Utah and Oklahoma are the only states with a provision for the use of a firing squad as an alternative if lethal injection is found to be unconstitutional, unavailable or impractical.

The execution team must be a five-person squad with a team leader and at least one alternate. All must be ‘certified peace officers’ who have proved their firearms proficiency by passing an accuracy test under similar conditions as would be present in an actual execution.

The firing squad would use .30 calibre rifles. They would fire from a distance of a minimum 21 feet. The team leader must load the weapons, with two rounds in each rifle, with one of the five person team having their rifle loaded with blanks, unbeknown to that person. Then the warden of the jail directs someone to place a target over the condemned’s heart. The executed person gets two minutes to speak but is cut off if there is any swearing.

Then the volley is fired.

If, after a medical examination, the executed is still alive, a second volley is fired.

The job of the firing squad isn’t then over. After the execution chamber has been cleaned up, they are then required to fill out a questionnaire asking them if they felt they were properly trained and if everything went according to plan.

Picture source: Imagno Museo de la Revolución, en La Habana, Cuba