The state of South Carolina approved on Wednesday to include the firing squad as a method of executing death row inmates, although lethal injection will remain the first option.
The bill approved by the legislature aims to seek alternatives to lethal injection in view of the shortage of these drugs due to the refusal of pharmaceutical companies to be used in executions.
The document still has to be ratified by the governor, Republican Henry McMaster, who has already announced his support for the bill.
Currently, prisoners sentenced to death in South Carolina have a choice between the electric chair or lethal injection for execution, so they opt for the latter option since the state lacks a stockpile.
From now on, in the event that the state does not have lethal drugs available, the inmate will have the option of choosing how to be executed between the electric chair and firing squad.
South Carolina will thus become the fourth state in the country to include firing squad as an option, after Mississippi, Oklahoma and Utah.
The fact that the bill is approved does not imply that executions in South Carolina will be reactivated soon, as the text will probably face lawsuits that may delay its entry into force for several years.
The last execution in South Carolina was a decade ago, on May 6, 2011.
South Carolina currently has about 40 death row inmates, three of whom have exhausted all of their legal appeals.
Of the 1,532 executions that have occurred in the United States since the death penalty was reinstated in 1976, only 3 have been by firing squad, all of them in Utah and the last one in 2010.