Firing Squads Set To Return With A Bang, As Lethal Injection Shortage Persists

Tyler Durden's picture

Chalk this one up to US (f)austerity, and a $1.1 trillion omnibus spending bull that forgot to add Pentobarbital among the billions in pork spending.

Two months ago we reported that due to a shortage of Pentobarbital, Ohio would be unable to execute death row convicts. It appears that the shortage has persisted into the new year, and now some states are taking matters into their own hands. Or rather the hands of the firing squad. As NBC reports, due to the lethal drug shortage, lawmakers in at least two states to call for the return of firing squads. "Missouri state Rep. Rick Brattin, a Republican representing Harrisonville, introduced legislation Friday (.pdf) that would add five-person firing squads as an alternative to the state's current method of capital punishment, lethal injection."

Ostensibly, the reason why firing squads may be back with a, well, bang, is due to the "unethical" and "inhumane" prolonged death death last Thursday of Dennis McGuire in Ohio who was executed using a new combination of drugs that had never been used in a US execution before.

It took almost 25 minutes for McGuire, who was executed for raping and murdering a 22-year-old pregnant newlywed, to die gasping and choking Thursday from a new combination of drugs that had never before been used in a U.S. execution. McGuire's family said Friday it intends to sue Ohio prison officials for what they called McGuire's "torture."

And while Missouri can still enforce the death penalthy using lethal gas, its gas chamber hasn't been functional since 1965. Which means that should the legislation pass, a firing squad may be used as soon as January 29: "With the state's next execution scheduled for Jan. 29, "we've been having all of these troubles getting the drugs to administer the lethal injection," Brattin told the statewide radio network Missourinet on Friday. "I was just looking at a second option, something we could do if we had to utilize the death penalty and we could not administer the lethal injection," Brattin said. Besides being "quick and something we could do at a moment's notice," he said, an execution by firing squad would be more humane than McGuire's ordeal."

While Oklahoma law provides for firing squads if lethal injection is ever ruled unconstitutional, only Utah actually continues to use them, and then only for inmates convicted before 2004 as it seeks to phase them out.

The current shortage of the traditional lethal injection of Pentobarbital may mean this changes soon:

State Sen. Bruce Burns filed a similar bill (.pdf) Monday in Wyoming, saying the state would have to do something soon before it runs out of approved drugs for lethal injections.

The good news: bullets are cheap.

State Sen. Bruce Burns filed a similar bill (.pdf) Monday in Wyoming, saying the state would have to do something soon before it runs out of approved drugs for lethal injections.

The better news: an all too ethical and too easily distracted society will very soon have even more violent and absolutely meaningless Twitter fights over the ethics of said firing squads (while it is actively pretending to look for a job)... and the NSA will be just as busy recording all of it.