A bill that would make death by firing squad an option in Wyoming failed in the legislative session last week.
The bill was introduced and passed in the Senate. The House then amended it to give death row inmates the option of sedation before execution. Back in the Senate, there was disagreement about the language of the sedation clause. The Judiciary Committee then found a compromise. But the bill ultimately failed in the House.
Currently, lethal injection is the primary method of execution, followed by the gas chamber. But Wyoming doesn’t have a working gas chamber. The firing squad bill would have eliminated it as an option.
Senator Leland Christensen, who is chair of the Judiciary Committee, says that it’s likely the bill failed partly because of the disagreement about the sedation amendment. But, he says, more broadly, the idea of a firing squad just makes some people uncomfortable.
“It’s a tough topic. Every time—I’ll just share with you, every time that conversation came up in a committee meeting, there was just a tough cloud over it, it feels like. People get thinking about the seriousness, and it’s a very sobering conversation.”
Christensen says that though the idea of a firing squad makes some people uncomfortable, it’s a better alternative than the gas chamber.
“Years ago,” he says, “I did a tour of the old penitentiary in Rawlins where they had a gas chamber and that’s—that’s a pretty, uh—chilling and grim place to take a tour, including that particular room.”
Christensen says that it’s likely the firing squad bill will come up again in future legislative sessions.