Bill would add firing squad to S. Carolina execution methods

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - Death by a firing squad could become a new method of execution here in South Carolina. Right now, there's a nationwide shortage for a lethal injection drug, and South Carolina cannot hold executions because of that shortage.

Representative Joshua Putnam says a firing squad is more humane than lethal injection and the electric chair. He introduced the bill in the house Wednesday. He believes a firing squad is faster, cheaper, and less painful than the other options of execution.

Putnam says part of the reason for the shortage is because pharmaceutical companies are worried about being harassed by anti-death penalty advocates. Right now the electric chair is the only working method of execution in the state. However, death row prisoners can opt for lethal injection, but since that's not available, an execution would have to be postponed.

Putnam says why not have a firing squad. Some are not in favor of that form of execution.

"It just seems kind of barbaric to think of it as a form of punishment. It's just very old school," said Jessica Bonaeita, a resident in West Ashley.

"I'm opposed to it greatly," said Sheila Neufeld, a resident in Summerville.

Lawmakers say some lethal injection drugs haven't worked.

"Lethal injection, with some of the medicine not being right, have caused a great deal of concern," said Bonaeita.

That's why representative Putnam believes death by firing squad would be more humane. If approved, five high-precision experts in the state would shoot a rifle, but only one bullet would hit the prisoner. The other remaining rifles would fire blank shots. That way the officers don't know whose rifle fired the deadly bullet.

This bill is not official. It would still have to pass through the senate and then it would be put on the governor's desk.

If approved the state would follow Utah and Oklahoma in allowing the firing squad. The last execution in South Carolina was in 2011 in Greenville.

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