Wyo. Senator to Try to Bring Back Firing Squads

Because gas chambers are 'cruel and unusual'
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 14, 2014 8:10 AM CST
Wyo. Senator to Try to Bring Back Firing Squads

That there is a shortage of lethal injection drugs is not news, but a Wyoming senator's response to the situation is. Republican state Sen. Bruce Burns yesterday very simply pointed to state law, which commands a gas chamber to be used if those drugs aren't accessible. Except Wyoming doesn't have "an operating gas chamber," and Burns sees the construction of one as too pricey, so he would like to suggest a Plan C: death by firing squad. "I consider frankly the gas chamber to be cruel and unusual, so I went with firing squad because they also have it in Utah," said Burns, who adds that he also picked it because it's such a cheap option.

And he's gone so far as to draft a bill that he intends to present at the start of the legislative session, which the AP reports begins Feb. 10. As for the number of death row inmates the change would affect, the answer is one: The state only has one convict on death row, and last carried out an execution in 1992. Ohio, however, plans to carry one out on Thursday using two drugs untested in the US. The Guardian reports a federal judge yesterday ruled that it could proceed—though attorneys for David McGuire had argued that he will likely suffer the "terror" of a suffocation-like phenomenon known as air hunger during his execution. Judge Gregory Frost felt the evidence didn't prove a substantial risk of such pain, and noted "Ohio is free to innovate and to evolve its procedures for administering capital punishment." (More firing squad stories.)

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