Mississippi passes bill to legalize death by firing squad as lethal injection comes under fire

Of the 33 states with the death penalty, only Oklahoma and Utah allow for execution by firing squad.

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A firing squad. Photo credit: Shutterstock

Mississippi lawmakers just passed a bill which would expand the state’s options for administering the death penalty to include death by firing squad, electrocution, and the gas chamber.

House Bill 638 passed the house with a 74 to 44 vote in favor, and will now move on to the state senate for more debate.

Andy Gipson, a Republican who chairs the House Judiciary B Committee says the bill is a response to lawsuits filed by “liberal, left-wing radicals” over lethal injection drugs.

One of those “radicals” suing the state is Jim Craig, who told The Associated Press on Wednesday that each of the proposed new methods of executions would be challenged in court:

“Every single one, in essence, just injects a whole new series of issues in the existing case.”

The lethal injection cases are in response to incidents like Charles Frederick Warner’s, who was administered the wrong drugs in 2015, leading to prolonged suffering during his execution. Warner’s last words were, “My body is on fire.” In the case of Clayton Lockett in 2014, IV issues caused his execution by lethal injection to last 43 minutes.

Lethal injection is the primary method of execution in the 33 states with the death penalty, according to the Death Penalty Information Center, and is currently Mississippi’s only form of execution.

Gipson argues that if the courts block the use of lethal injection drugs, the state needs to have options for killing it’s 47 people on death row, some of which have been waiting 25 years for their sentence to be carried out:

”I have a constituent whose daughter was raped and killed by a serial killer over 25 years ago and that person’s still waiting for the death penalty. The family is still waiting for justice.”

Of the 33 states with the death penalty, only Oklahoma and Utah allow for execution by firing squad.

The bill still must pass the senate and be signed by Mississippi Governor, Phil Bryant, before becoming law. But this seem likely with Republicans controlling both houses of Mississippi’s state legislature and the Governor’s mansion.

A spokesperson said Gov. Bryant “generally favors the efficient administration of the death penalty in Mississippi.”

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