MANAMA, Saudi Arabia, March 10 (UPI) — Saudi  Arabian lawmakers are debating making a switch from beheading with a sword to a  firing squad when carrying out public executions, authorities said.

Ministers from a number of different departments of the Saudi Arabian  government are investigating whether a firing squad makes more sense than  beheading by a sword, Gulf News reported Sunday.

A local official told Arabic daily al Youm: “A specialized committee made up  of representatives from the ministries of interior, justice and health as well  as the commissions of investigation and prosecution, the public security and the  prison general directorate are looking into a study that replaces beheading by a  firing squad.”

The official said a major reason for the switch is that there are a limited  number of executioners by the sword.

“They are not readily available everywhere and on some occasions, executions  were marred by confusion as the executioner was late in showing up at the  designated public place, causing confusion and sparking speculation and rumors,”  the official said.

So far this year, 15 people have been executed in Saudi Arabia, Gulf News  said. Offenses that are punishable by execution in the country include murder,  rape, armed robbery, repeated drug use, apostasy, false prophecy, witchcraft and  sorcery.