Oregon May Ditch Its 172-Year-Old Ban on Dueling

Lawmakers seem to think it's unnecessary
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Apr 9, 2017 12:49 PM CDT

(Newser) – The Oregon Legislature may have an unusual request for voters in the next election that harkens back to that fateful day in 1804 when a bitter rivalry between Vice President Aaron Burr and the nation's first treasury secretary, Alexander Hamilton, was settled with a fatal gunshot. Should ongoing discussions in Salem materialize, voters would see a question on their general-election ballots asking if a 172-year-old ban on dueling by public officials—as in, the old-fashioned way of resolving fights—should be erased from the Oregon Constitution, reports the AP. The constitutional ban in question is Article II, Section 9, which says anyone who offers, accepts, 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."

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The article was signed in 1845, almost 15 years before Oregon's statehood, when squabbles were still often resolved by duel even decades after Hamilton's death. "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," GOP Sen. Brian Boquist said Wednesday during the bill's first committee hearing. Democratic Sen. Ginny Burdick jokingly called it "the bill I've been waiting all session for." The sole public testimony came from Dan Meek, a Oregon Progressive Party rep, who opposes Boquist's proposal. "This resolution would allow the candidacies of persons who give or accept challenges to fight duels," Meek wrote. "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." (Read more gun duel stories.)

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