Utah Gov. Gary Herbert on Monday signed into law a bill that authorizes the use of firing squads in executions if the state is unable to obtain lethal injection drugs.

A spokesperson for Herbert, Marty Carpenter, said lethal injection is preferred, but when the drugs aren’t available, the executive branch has an obligation to enforce death sentences, report the Associated Press and the Salt Lake Tribune.

Utah isn’t the only state with a backup, the governor’s office said. Inmates in Washington state can opt for hanging, which is also a backup in New Hampshire, AP reports. In Oklahoma, firing squads are allowed if a court strikes down lethal injection and the electric chair on constitutional grounds.

Utah had allowed inmates to choose firing squads before the legislature approved lethal injections in 2004. Inmates sentenced before the new law took effect still had the option of firing squad executions.

Adam Lee Nemann
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Trial and Defense Attorney, Adjunct Professor of Law at Capital University, founder of Nemann Law Offices
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