On this date in History .... 1977:
Gary Gilmore is
executed by firing squad, becoming the first person to be executed since the
death penalty was reinstated in 1976.
1972, the Supreme Court had ruled the death penalty was in violation of the 8th
Amendment as “cruel and unusual punishment”, but overturned itself in 1976 when
66% of the public supported it. However, the Court added that states had to
create specific guidelines for imposing death penalties.
Career criminal Gilmore
was found guilty for the double murder of an elderly couple when they wouldn’t
loan him their car. Much to Gilmore’s irritation, the ACLU kept intervening to
get him stays of execution that Gilmore did not want.
At the time, Utah had two methods: firing
squad and hanging. Gilmore chose his
method of execution, saying, “I prefer to be shot.” As he faced the Utah volunteer
firing squad, his last words were “Let’s do this.”