Members of the South Carolina House have voted to add death by firing squad as a state execution method due to a lack of lethal injection drugs.
The bill, approved in a 66 to 43 vote on Wednesday, would require inmates to choose between being shot or electrocuted if there are no lethal injection drugs available, the Associated Press (AP) reported.
“The state is one of only nine to still use the electric chair and will become only the fourth to allow a firing squad,” the outlet continued:
The Senate already had approved the bill in March, by a vote of 32-11. The House only made minor technical changes to that version, meaning that after a routine final vote in the House and a signoff by the Senate, it will go to Republican Gov. Henry McMaster, who has said he will sign it.
In a social media post on Wednesday, McMaster said the House “has given second reading to a bill that will restore the state’s ability to carry out the death penalty”:
The bill makes it possible for South Carolina to resume its executions for the first time in about a decade, according to the State.
“The state has had to postpone three executions due to a nationwide shortage of lethal injection drugs, caused by drug companies who wanted to crack down on how their products are being used,” the newspaper continued:
Under current South Carolina law, lethal injections are the default mode of execution, meaning that unless an inmate chooses another method of execution, they cannot be forced to die by any other means. The bill passed Wednesday would make the electric chair the default mode of execution, meaning that if no other method were available, an inmate would have to die in the chair.
Inmates will be offered the choice to die by firing squad if that method is available as well. Proponents of the bill say changing current law is the only way to carry out capital sentences within the state. Very few Republicans stood up to advocate for the bill Wednesday.
In a subsequent post, McMaster reiterated he would sign the legislation when it reached his desk.