Firing squad bill advances to floor of Idaho Senate

Idaho Department of Correction officials say they are unable to obtain chemicals for lethal injection

By: - March 13, 2023 4:32 pm
Idaho Capitol Building

Idaho State Capitol building in Boise on Jan. 11, 2023. (Otto Kitsinger for Idaho Capital Sun)

A bill that would add the firing squad as an alternative form of execution in Idaho is headed to the floor of the Idaho Senate for a final vote.

Idaho has eight convicted murderers awaiting execution on death row. But state officials have had to cancel the planned execution of Gerald Pizzuto Jr. multiple times after Idaho Department of Correction officials were unable to obtain chemicals to carry out a lethal injection. 

Idaho Department of Correction officials use Pentobarbital to administer lethal injections, Deputy Attorney General Lamont Anderson said Monday. 


Pizzuto was scheduled to be executed March 23, but on Thursday, U.S. District Judge B. Lynn Winmill granted a stay of execution because state officials again could not obtain lethal injection chemicals, Idaho Reports reported.  

Sen. Doug Ricks, R-Rexburg, and Rep. Bruce Skaug, R-Nampa, are sponsoring House Bill 186 to add the firing squad as an alternative to lethal injection. Ricks said without the bill adding the firing squad, Idaho is essentially unable to carry out death penalty sentences.

Brother of man who died on death row testifies firing squad is cruel and unusual punishment

During a public hearing on the bill Monday at the Idaho State Capitol in Boise, the brother of Ronnie Lee Gardner, the last person to be executed by firing squad in the United States, testified against the bill. Gardner was executed by firing squad in Utah in 2010 after specifically requesting that form of execution. 

On Monday, Randy Gardner told members of the Senate Judiciary and Rules Committee that death by firing squad is cruel and unusual punishment. 

Gardner told legislators that they would be going backwards to a barbaric practice if they added the firing squad as a form of execution. He also asked legislators to think of the people who would have to serve on a firing squad and the people who would have to clean up the blood and remove the body following an execution. 

“I mean, it just ripped my brother’s body apart,” Gardner said during the hearing. 

“The collateral damage is much, much worse than people think,” Gardner added.

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In the end, the Senate Judiciary and Rules Committee voted to send House Bill 186 to the floor with a do-pass recommendation. 

The Idaho House already passed the firing squad bill 50-15 on March 3. If a majority of members of the Idaho Senate vote to pass the bill, it would go to Gov. Brad Little’s desk for final consideration. 

House Bill 186 is written so that it would take effect July 1 if it is passed into law.

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Clark Corbin
Clark Corbin

Clark Corbin has more than a decade of experience covering Idaho government and politics. He has covered every Idaho legislative session since 2011 gavel-to-gavel. Prior to joining the Idaho Capital Sun he reported for the Idaho Falls Post Register and Idaho Education News. His reporting in Idaho has helped uncover a multimillion-dollar investment scam and exposed inaccurate data that school districts submitted to the state.