Republican politicians in Missouri and Wyoming are beginning to favor execution by firing squad. The archaic means is favored because the drugs used in lethal injection executions are vanishing from the market.

Ever since lethal injection drugs were boycotted by their producing companies for moral reasons Ever since the companies that produce the drugs used in lethal injections started boycotting the manufacturing of the drugs, the states of Missouri and Wyoming are considering full implementation of firing squads. This motion was initiated because the drug shortage has since caused states to rely on pharmacies to create experimental, makeshift lethal injection cocktails.

Traditionally, lethal injection occurs in phases with three different drugs; sodium thiopental to induce unconsciousness, pancuronium bromide to paralyze the muscles and respiratory system, and potassium chloride in order to stop the heart.

States have been using a drug comprised of a mixture between sedatives and painkillers. The drug has produced ghastly results, often causing the condemned to suffer from labored breathing and severe coughing and discomfort for almost 30 minutes before dying. An Ohio death row inmate, Dennis McGuire, experienced this same kind of agony.

Earlier this month, McGuire was executed because of his conviction for the rape and murder of pregnant woman in 1989. The family has since forgiven him for his crime against them. Instead of using the traditional drugs for lethal injection, which are intended to give the condemned a painless death, the state of Ohio used the sedative midazolam and the painkiller hydromorphone.  

Other states want to avoid this form of lethal injection, but they are wanting to trade one form of cruel and unusual punishment for another in firing squads. Missouri State Rep. Rick Brattin (R-Harrisonville) introduced the measure to activate firing squad executions in Missouri. But Brattin’s and co-sponsor, State Rep. Paul Fitzwater’s (R-Potosi), reasons are vindictive.

“People look at inmates who will be executed as victims,” Fitzwater said. “But the real victims have no voice because they are gone.” Brattin said lethal injections allow condemned inmates “get off easy.”

The country spends billions of dollars on executions, housing, prosecution, and appellate proceedings for death row inmates every year. California spends $130 million annually on its death row inmates, and many of them have been waiting over 40 years for their execution. Florida taxpayers have spent $24 million for each, individual execution since 2005.

Of course firing squads would be less expensive than lethal injection, but it’s a barbaric practice that makes the state appear just as monstrous as the criminal. And just eradicating the death penalty would make much more financial sense.

Utah is the only state that has retained and implemented firing squad executions. It was last used in 2010 and three times since 1977. The state recently announced that it was in the process of “phasing out” the use of firing squads.   

Josh is a writer and researcher with Ring of Fire. Follow him on Twitter @dnJdeli.