Idaho Senate approves firing squad bill on veto-proof vote

Sen. Dan Foreman, R-Moscow, raises objection to bill that passes on 24-11 vote. 

Dan, here’s the better way: call a vet to have them put to sleep. 

Foreman mug

BOISE — A bill adding the firing squad as a secondary method of execution is headed to the governor’s desk to be signed into law after the Senate on Monday approved HB 186 on a 24-11 vote.

The House previously approved the bill 50-15; it was sponsored by Rep. Bruce Skaug, R-Nampa.

Since the bill passed with more than a two-thirds majority, it cannot be vetoed.

Sen. Doug Ricks, R-Rexburg, sponsored the bill on the Senate floor. Idaho has not been able to obtain the chemicals needed to carry out the death penalty via lethal injection, and as a result, last year the state called off the planned execution of Gerald Pizzuto, who’s been on death row since 1986.

“This is about justice,” Ricks said.

He argued that the debate wasn’t whether or not the death penalty should be in place, it was about carrying out sentences within the current criminal justice system. Under the legislation, the firing squad could be used as an alternative means of execution if lethal injection is not available.

Sen. Dan Foreman, R-Moscow, a former law enforcement officer and Air Force service member, said that the method was “beneath the dignity of the state of Idaho.”

“I’ve seen the aftermath of shootings, and it’s psychologically damaging to anybody who witnesses it, anybody who has a hand in it, anybody who plays a role in the aftermath, in the cleanup and all the logistics involved,” Foreman said. “It’s, in a word, brutal.”

He said he wasn’t arguing about whether the method would be legal or upheld as constitutional, but that “there’s a better way.”