With lethal-injection drugs in short supply and new questions looming about their effectiveness, lawmakers in some death penalty states are considering bringing back relics of a more gruesome past: firing squads, electrocutions, and gas chambers. Most states abandoned those execution methods more than a generation ago, but to some elected officials, the drug shortages and recent legal challenges are beginning to make lethal injection seem too vulnerable to complications.
"This isn't an attempt to time-warp back into the 1850s or the wild, wild West or anything like that," says Missouri state Rep. Rick Brattin, who this month proposed making firing squads an option for executions. "It's just that I foresee a problem, and I'm trying to come up with a solution that will be the most humane yet most economical for our state." A Wyoming lawmaker has also proposed a return to firing squads, while other officials in Missouri have raised the notion of rebuilding the state's gas chamber, and a Virginia lawmaker wants to make electrocution an option if lethal-injection drugs aren't available.