State Senate passes death penalty bill that includes firing squad

José Ramón Miguel Agustín Pro Juárez, also known as Blessed Miguel Pro, was executed by firing squad in 1927 and beatified by Pope John Paul II as a Catholic martyr in 1988. Just before his death he lifted his arms and proclaimed "Viva Cristo Rey (Long live Christ the KIng)."

COLUMBIA—If the South Carolina Senate has its way, death row inmates could be executed by firing squads in the near future.

On Tuesday, March 2, the Senate voted 32-11 to pass a bill that would add death by firing squad as an option for capital punishment, along with the electric chair.

The bill now heads to the S.C. House of Representatives for consideration.

The vote came in the latest round of sparring over how to make executions possible again in the state. Lethal injection has been the state’s primary means of execution since 1995, but no executions have been carried out in South Carolina in the past decade because the state is unable to obtain the drugs needed for lethal injection.

Currently Mississippi, Oklahoma and Utah are the only states that offer the firing squad as an option for execution. The last execution by firing squad in the U.S. took place in Utah in 2010.

A statement released by the Diocese of Charleston Tuesday afternoon expresses dismay with the Senate’s decision and encourages people to take action against the legislation.

“We are extremely disappointed that the proposed death penalty bill passed the S.C. Senate without the opportunity for public comment,” the statement said. “It is long past time to abolish the death penalty in South Carolina, not to find new ways to execute our brothers and sisters, including by firing squad. Every person is created in the image and likeness of God; their lives should be protected from the time of conception until natural death. We urge members of the S.C. House of Representatives to vote against the bill, and to redirect the energy and resources that currently go toward executions into providing assistance to victims’ families.”

The diocese asks people to make their voices heard by contacting their House members regarding this issue at and click “Stop the Death Penalty in SC!” Once you complete the brief form, a message will appear that can be sent directly to the appropriate representative.