Wyoming lawmaker wants to save money with firing squads: ‘It’s one of the cheapest’

By David Edwards
Tuesday, January 14, 2014 10:54 EDT
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Bruce Burns (Wyoming State Senate)
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A Republican lawmaker in Wyoming has proposed mandating the using of firing squads for executions if lethal injections drugs are unavailable.

State Sen. Bruce Burns told The Associated Press that he had introduced the bill because current law called for using a gas chamber, but the cost would be too high.

“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 opined. “I consider frankly the gas chamber to be cruel and unusual, so I went with firing squad because they also have it in Utah.”

“The expense of building a gas chamber I think would be prohibitive when you consider how many people would be executed by it, and even the cost of gallows,” he said.

In recent years, supplies of lethal injection drugs have dwindled as European manufacturers have refused to sell to states for the purposes of executions. States have resorted to using untested drugs, creating constitutional challenges.

Death Penalty Information Center Executive Director Richard Dieter explained to the AP that firing squads were not the answer. Condemned inmates are allowed to choose firing squads or lethal injections in Utah, but the state is working to phase out the practice.

“That I think would raise concerns in the federal courts, perhaps the state courts, about whether an unusual, perhaps a cruel and unusual punishment is being inflicted,” Dieter pointed out. “I don’t know how the ultimate ruling would come down, but I think there would be delays as that case got considered and it might even go up to the Supreme Court. This would be unusual. This is not what Utah has done.”

[Photo credit: Wyoming Senate]

David Edwards
David Edwards
David Edwards has served as an editor at Raw Story since 2006. His work can also be found at Crooks & Liars, and he's also been published at The BRAD BLOG. He came to Raw Story after working as a network manager for the state of North Carolina and as as engineer developing enterprise resource planning software. Follow him on Twitter at @DavidEdwards.
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