Lawmakers in Oregon are considering holding a vote which could result in the removal of the constitutional ban on gun-blazing duels between public officials.
According to the Star Tribune, the constitutional ban in question refers to Article II, section 9 in the Oregon Constitution. It says that anyone who offers, accepts or knowingly participates in a “challenge to fight a duel … or who shall agree to go out of the State to fight a duel, shall be ineligible to any office of trust, or profit.”
The original article was signed back in 1845, when disputes were still frequently resolved with gun duels. Other parts of the country had outlawed them decades before.
“They decided that it would not be very civil if two members of the Legislature disagreed and then shot each other on the front steps of the provisional capitol,” said Republican Sen. Brian Boquist on Wednesday during the committee hearing about repealing the law.
According to the Senator, however, the article should be repealed because it’s outdated and unnecessary in modern times.
Because the repeal changes the constitution, Oregon voters would have the final say on whether they want to keep the law. Before then, the bill must also go through the Legislature’s approval process. If it passes both chambers, it will be referred to voters.
Sen. Boquist also testified that the Oregon Constitution could get away with more changes that no longer serve a purpose in modern times.
“I want you to know that most of your stationery is probably in violation of the law because we have a constitutional clause as to how we can use our stationery,” he said.
Democratic Sen. Ginny Burdick responded to the bill’s possible repeal of a ban on gun duels, saying it’s “the bill I’ve been waiting all session for.”
“Well, I’m deeply disappointed that the ambitions for this bill are bigger than dueling, because I was all set to go,” she added.
Dan Meek, a Portland attorney and Oregon Progressive Party spokesman, opposed the motion saying it would allow politicians to accept challenges to fight duels and there’s no need to repeal such “unenforced” laws as it will only cost money to organize a referendum in Oregon.
“This resolution would allow the candidacies of persons who give or accept challenges to fight duels,” Meek wrote to the committee. “Also, there is a cost to removing obviously unenforced and unenforceable provisions in the Oregon Constitution, including the cost of processing and printing this resolution on millions of ballots and processing the results.”