South Carolina lawmakers have passed a bill to allow inmates on death row to be executed by firing squad in the absence of lethal injection drugs.
When signed into law, it will make South Carolina the fourth state in the country to offer the option as a method of capital punishment.
Opponents criticised the new measure as “medieval” but its supporters say it is about bringing closure to victims.
The southern state has not held an execution since 2011.
The legislation passed by the South Carolina House of Representatives aims to restart executions by bypassing the difficulties states face in procuring the drugs for a lethal injection cocktail.
It will go to the state’s Senate for a final vote before heading to Republican Governor Henry McMaster, who has vowed to sign the bill “as soon as it gets to my desk”.
Why do lawmakers want to legalise death by firing squad?
South Carolina currently offers death row inmates the choice to die either by lethal injection or in the electric chair. Inmates cannot be forced to die by a method they did not choose.
All but three executed convicts have opted for the former – a three-drug combo that puts prisoners to sleep, induces paralysis and then stops the heart – since it was first introduced in 1995.
But these drugs have become harder to get as manufacturers and distributors do not want their products used to impose the death penalty.
The Republican-controlled House voted 66-43 on Wednesday to make the electric chair the default method of execution when drugs are unavailable and to offer up the alternative of dying by firing squad.
Seven House Republicans voted against the bill on Wednesday and one Democrat voted for it.