Firing Squad Execution Bills Clear Houses in Wyoming, Utah


Two bills aimed at making firing squads the backup method of execution are now in the hands of state senates in Wyoming and Utah.

Last year, a similar bill surfaced in Wyoming, where its sponsor, Sen. Bruce Burns, said that in the absence of lethal injection drugs the state could use a firing squad to execute condemned prisoners. 

"The state of Wyoming doesn't have a gas chamber currently, an operating gas chamber, so the procedure and expense to build one would be impractical to me," Burns said at the time.

A similar bill cleared the Wyoming House in a 31-29 vote on Feb. 13, though the Wyoming Senate has rejected the House version of the bill. Supporters in the Senate have said they may try to bring the issue to a vote again next week when four members of the Senate have returned.

Meanwhile, in Utah, a nearly identical bill has cleared the Republican-controlled House in a 39-34 vote, and is on its way to consideration in the Senate.

Though Utah eliminated execution by firing squad in 2004, death row inmate Ronnie Lee Gardner was given the choice between lethal injection and the firing squad in 2010 because he was convicted before the law changed. No other American has been executed by firing squad since.