Utah could become the only US state to restore the firing squad as a method of execution after lawmakers approved a bill on the emotive issue.
The draft legislation, approved by the western US state’s senate, would allow for a firing squad if drugs used for executions were unavailable, as has recently been the case in a number of US states.
The bill, approved by 18 votes to 10, according to the state legislature’s Twitter feed, still has to be signed into law by Governor Gary Herbert.
Herbert, a Republican, has not indicated if he intends to approve it.
The sponsor of the bill, Republican lawmaker Paul Ray, did not immediately respond to a request for comment. He is reported as saying that the firing squad is a quick and humane alternative to lethal injection.
The US Supreme Court is due next month to consider the constitutionality of lethal injection — the most common form of execution in the United States, but one that has become increasingly controversial.
In 2008, the court ruled that lethal injection was constitutional, but that was before recent shortages in the most commonly used drugs prompted state officials to come up with unproven lethal medication cocktails that appeared to cause pain and suffering in inmates during some recent executions.
The case before America’s highest court is being brought by three death-row inmates in Oklahoma, who are challenging an untested combination of drugs used in earlier botched executions in the state.