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Execution by firing squad proposed by lawmakers

Lawmakers propose a switch to executions by firing squad should pharmaceutical companies continue to make it more difficult for them to get the drugs needed for lethal injections. At least two states have proposed that switching to a firing squad as a viable option to lethal injection.

Methods of capital punishment: firing squad
Methods of capital punishment: firing squad
Two US states proposing a bill that would allow for firing squads in capital punishment.
Trent Nelson/AP/MSN

Manufacturers have cut off access to the traditional drugs used in capital punishment. The end result is states have been forces to switch to customized drugs and untested new drug combinations.

Last week when the execution in Ohio came under fire as the inmate suffered from gasping and convulsions during his execution. The state of Ohio used a new two drug combination for the first time in the United States prompting those who are opposed to capital punishment to use the constitution right against “cruel and unusual punishment” as a basis to end lethal injections.

On Friday, after the execution, Missouri state Representative Rick Brattin stated lethal injections force families of the murder victims to wait too long for justice. As a result, Brattin introduced a bill to add “firing squad” as an option for executions.

Brattin said, “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. This is no less humane than lethal injection.” Currently, Missouri uses lethal injections for capital punishment however; they do have the option of choosing the gas chamber. The state hasn’t utilized the gas chamber since 1965.

Wyoming state Senator Bruce Burns also introduced a bill last week that would add the option of a firing squad for inmate’s executions. Burns stated, “If I had my choice, I would take the firing squad over lethal injection.”

Death Penalty information Center tracks the utilization of capital punishment. Executive director Richard Dieter revealed that he believes the states that have proposed using firing squads are desperate to find a way of dealing with all of the issues facing lethal injections.

Dieter went on to state that Utah does allow the inmate to choose to die by firing squad but the state is phasing out the method. There are still two inmates on death row that will have the option of a firing squad instead of lethal injection.

Since the United States resumed using the death penalty in the 1970s, more than 1,300 prison inmates have been put to death. Of those 1,300, 1,200 hundred were executed by lethal injection.

Utah is the only state to have executed inmates by firing squad. Since 1977, Utah have executed three inmates with the firing squad. The last execution to take place in Utah by firing squad was in 2010.

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