The execution chamber at the Utah State Prison is seen after Ronnie Lee Gardner was executed by firing squad June 18, 2010 in Draper Utah. Four bullet holes are visible in the wood panel behind the chair. (AP Photo/Trent Nelson/Pool)
JEFFERSON CITY, MO (KCTV/AP) -
Missouri like most states uses lethal injection on death row inmates, but one lawmaker wants to bring back an old school option of the firing squad.
State representative Rick Brattin has been careful to say that the firing squad will not replace lethal injection as the sole method of capital punishment, but it would give the state a choice in how to execute criminals.
Lethal injection was long viewed as an alternative and humane way to execute death row criminals. But when the European maker of pentobarbital stopped selling to the U.S. to protest capital punishment, it left many states scrambling for alternative methods to carry out executions.
"I think we've got to go towards a different method rather than lethal injection," Brattin said.
He believes the solution is a five-person firing squad consisting of five law enforcement officers chosen by the state corrections director. This week he introduced House Bill 1470 asking that it be used in Missouri.
"We gotta do something humanely to carry out those sentences and to bring rest to their situation," Brattin said.
He believes the firing squad is the most humane way to carry out executions, a belief shared by many death penalty experts.
KCTV5 spoke to some people in Kansas City, MO, and the idea of the firing squad was a hard sell, even for a death penalty supporter.
"Something about the humanity of that. I feel like, if you are going to allow them to do it, it should be somewhat humane," said one man.
"If the firing squad is being considered, I think that's a ridiculous way to deal with the death penalty. There are a little more humane options out there," said another man.
Brattin's bill already has a co-sponsor. He hopes it will have bipartisan support as it makes its way through the state House.
"Hopefully we would at least have the hearing, start the dialogue and see if there's a good push toward getting it through," he said.
The Missourians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty released the following statement opposing the idea:
"Missourians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty opposes all executions regardless of the method. However, the idea of a firing squad is beyond the standard of decency for our modern society, and Missourians would be appalled at using such a barbaric method. This legislation is an act of desperation to save a death penalty system that is completely broken and beyond repair."
The state currently puts inmates to death with injections of lethal drugs, although existing law also permits use of lethal gas - the method by which 39 people were executed from 1938 to 1965.
Missouri's next execution is scheduled for Jan. 29.
The state recently switched from three-drug to single-drug lethal injections after pharmaceutical companies stopped selling the three drugs to prisons. It's unclear where Missouri obtains the single drug, and there have been demands to halt executions until the source is revealed.
Utah is the only state that uses firing squads. The last time an inmate was executed by that method was in 2010
Firing squad is HB1470. Information can be found online at www.moga.mo.gov.
Copyright 2014 KCTV (Meredith Corp.) All rights reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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