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States reconsider bringing back old-fashioned executions

The firing squad chamber at a Utah prison. A Missouri lawmaker has proposed making the firing squad an option.
The firing squad chamber at a Utah prison. A Missouri lawmaker has proposed making the firing squad an option. Associated Press/File 2010

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ST. LOUIS — 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 in a bid to make capital punishment more palatable to the public and to a judicial system worried about inflicting cruel and unusual punishments that violate the Constitution.

But to some elected officials, the drug shortages and recent legal challenges are beginning to make lethal injection seem too vulnerable to complications.

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