1 in 5 Americans: Bring Back the Gas Chamber

NBC News poll finds most back alternative execution methods

By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff

Posted May 15, 2014 8:06 AM CDT

(Newser) – If one in five Americans had their way, the US wouldn't need to worry about an execution drug shortage because, well, we'd be gassing convicts. According to an NBC News poll, about two-thirds of 800 respondents said they would support alternative methods of execution: 20% are for gas chambers, 18% for the electric chair, 12% for firing squads, and 8% for hanging. "There is no such thing as killing someone humanely," a Texas man said, noting Clayton Lockett's botched execution. "But if hanging is done properly, it's more humane than lethal injection because there are fewer things that can go wrong."

One-third of respondents said executions should be stopped if lethal injections are no longer viable, but people were torn whether life in prison without parole or execution was the harsher punishment. While 59% said they support the death penalty for murderers, 35% were opposed. That shows a decline in support since the 1990s but little movement directly following Lockett's death. As a retiree noted, "The most humane way is the guillotine but I can’t see that coming back." A firing squad, though—which one senator is trying to bring back—"would be quick and with a firing squad no one knows whose bullet actually killed the person, so it’s easier on them."

In this May 13, 2011, file photo is the gas chamber on site at the former Missouri State Penitentiary in Jefferson City.
In this May 13, 2011, file photo is the gas chamber on site at the former Missouri State Penitentiary in Jefferson City.   (AP Photo/The News-Tribune, Julie Smith, File)
In this April 15, 2008 file photo, the gurney in the execution chamber at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary is pictured in McAlester, Okla.
In this April 15, 2008 file photo, the gurney in the execution chamber at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary is pictured in McAlester, Okla.   (AP Photo, File)
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