States have turned to pharmacies that customize drugs and adopted
untested new mixes after supplies of traditional execution drugs
were cut off by manufacturers opposed to their use for the
The debate over lethal injections was reignited on Thursday when an
inmate gasped and convulsed violently during his execution in Ohio
as the state used a two-drug method for the first time in the United
Missouri state Representative Rick Brattin, said Friday the
controversy over lethal injections forces families of murder victims
to wait too long for justice so he introduced his bill Thursday to
add "firing squad" as an execution option.
"A lot of folks may picture the 1850s and everyone lining up to
shoot, but the reality is that people suffer with every type of
death," said Brattin, a Republican. "This is no less humane than
Missouri, which is scheduled to execute an inmate in late January,
uses lethal injection by statute and permits execution by gas, a
method it has not used since 1965.
The United States has executed more than 1,300 prisoners since it
resumed the death penalty in the 1970s, nearly 1,200 by lethal
injection. Only Utah has used firing squads, executing three inmates
that way since 1977, the last in 2010.
Brattin's bill follows a measure Republican Wyoming state Senator
Bruce Burns introduced last week to add firing squad as an execution
option for the state if drugs are not available.
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"If I had my choice, I would take the firing squad over lethal
injection," Burns said.
Wyoming law also allows inmates to be gassed, but the state does not
have a gas chamber, Burns said.
Richard Dieter, executive director of the Death Penalty Information
Center, which tracks the use of capital punishment, said the firing
squad proposals show the desperation some lawmakers have to find a
way around the issues raised by lethal injection.
Utah uses firing squads only at the inmate's option and is phasing
out the method, Dieter said. Two death row inmates in Utah still
have the firing squad option, he said.
(Reporting by Kevin Murphy in Kansas City; editing by David Bailey
and Andrew Hay)
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