A Wyoming Republican wants his state to adopt firing squads as its means of executing prisoners.
They’re more reliable then lethal injection drugs – which are getting hard to find– and easier than building new gas chamber, the state’s current backup means of execution.
And even in an ammunition-short America, they’re cheap.
“One of the reasons I chose firing squad as opposed to any other form of execution is because frankly it’s one of the cheapest for the state,” state Sen. Bruce Burns told the Associated Press.
“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.”
They’re also extremely effective — shooting people to kill them has been going on for a long, long time — and can be also used without the ludicrous drama that surrounds arguments about whether one form of chemical is more or less painful than another when a society decides the world would be better off without the presence of a say, Ted Bundy or John Wayne Gacy.
Naturally, death penalty opponents don’t like Burns’ idea. Richard Dieter, executive director of the Death Penalty Information Center in Washington, told the AP there could be a court challenge to firing squads as the kind of “cruel and unusual punishment” forbidden by the Eighth Amendment.
“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,” he said.
Right now, it would affect only one person on death row in Wyoming, a charmer named Dale Wayne Eaton. Eaton was sentenced to die in 2004 for the 1988 rape and murder of Lisa Kimmel, an 18-year-old who, according to her parents,
“… had been raped repeatedly, held hostage for six days in an old school bus without electricity or running water, subjected to untold torture, hit on the head so hard that it caused a four-inch skull fracture, and stabbed six times.”
Not even his attorneys dispute his guilt.
Of the 35 states that have the death penalty, only Utah and Oklahoma have firing squads as a capital punishment option. In Utah, it is available at the condemned’s request, according to the death penalty information center. In Oklahoma, it’s on standby if lethal injection and electrocution are ever found to be unconstitutional.
Burns, a member of the Wyoming Senate Judiciary Committee, has filed a bill to be debated in the upcoming legislative session that starts in February.
“I consider frankly the gas chamber to be cruel and unusual,” Burns said.
And in Eaton’s case, volunteers to join the firing squad probably wouldn’t be hard to find.
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