Wyoming advances bill to legalize execution by firing squad

The proposal would let the state kill a prisoner via firearm if the drugs for a lethal injection cannot be found

By Elias Isquith
September 16, 2014 12:02AM (UTC)
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The execution chamber at the Utah State Prison after Ronnie Lee Gardner was executed by firing squad Friday, June 18, 2010. (Reuters/Trent Nelson)

Following a string of stories that placed the United States' reliance on capital punishment, which is unique among nations in the developed world, at the forefront of the national consciousness, state officials took a step Friday to advance a proposal to allow Wyoming to execute prisoners via firing squad if the necessary drugs for a lethal injection are not available.

According to a report from the Associated Press, Wyoming's Joint Judiciary Legislative Committee voted to further the bill, which would cause the state to join only two others, Utah and Oklahoma, in allowing the firing squad practice. Oklahoma allows firing squad only in situations where lethal injection and the electric chair have been deemed unconstitutional, while Utah lets prisoners be killed by a firing squad if they so choose (which few do, though one did as recently as 2010).


Now that the measure has advanced, the firing squad proposal will go before the Wyoming Legislature during January of 2015. The state's Senate took up a similar measure earlier this year, but it failed to secure enough votes to pass. The bill will likely fare better than it would in a less-conservative state, but still faces major hurdles.

Republican Rep. Stephen Watt, for example, is opposed, and cites his own experience being shot as a reason. "We're all operating under the assumption that this is going to be instantaneous death," Watt said to the Associated Press. "What happens if everyone misses?"

In related news, almost immediately after advancing the firing squad proposal, the same committee voted down a bill to ban capital punishment in the state of Wyoming altogether.

Elias Isquith

Elias Isquith is a former Salon staff writer.

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Related Topics ------------------------------------------

Capital Punishment Death Penalty Electric Chair Firing Squad Lethal Injection Wyoming