Studies in Contemporary Sociology - Shotgun
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From: Peter Langston <psl>
Date: Thu, 13 Jun 96 14:00:51 -0700
Subject: Studies in Contemporary Sociology - Shotgun
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The Shotgun Constitution
-by Brian Gerk
The rightmost front passenger seat in a vehicle, a prime choice for any
passenger, since it is the most comfortable seat, and also because of
the psychological advantage of not being forced to subserviently look
at the back of another person's head during a trip.
The physical presence of a person in the Shotgun position.
The owner of a vehicle, if he/she isn't driving, always gets Shotgun in
that vehicle. It is their car, it is their seat and they get it. This
is a real bonus for an owner who is falling down drunk. They can rest
assured Shotgun is rightfully theirs. They won't have to worry about
concentrating through an alcohol-induced haze simply to remember to call
Shotgun in their own hard-earned car. Once proper Shotgun 'enthronement'
rights have been established, they may also be surrendered. If the owner
of the vehicle is eligible for Shotgun, but wants to sleep it off in
the back seat, then they may give up Shotgun to a person of their
choice. The vehicle owner is also the ultimate judge in any Shotgun
disputes. Their word is law, and all passengers must defer to the
owner's interpretation of Shotgun law. Arbitration should be swift and
final, so that everyone can be on their way. If the owner is going to
stray from the Shotgun Constitution, they must have a good reason for
doing so. If the owner is not eligible for Shotgun, any passenger can
call Shotgun, but only under the proper conditions
Legal Conditions for Calling Shotgun
Shotgun can only be called when the driver is enroute to the vehicle
for the purpose of driving immediately, and the Shotgun position is
vacant. Shotgun cannot be called upon arrival, only upon departure.
For example, a group of travelers may arrive at a restaurant and get
out of the car for a meal. Some bone-head might try calling Shotgun
immediately for the subsequent ride home, but that is not appropriate.
If this kind of precedent were allowed, it would let anyone call Shotgun
'futures' for potential rides into eternity. Only after finishing the
meal, when the driver picks up the car keys, is a Shotgun call allowed.
Jingling keys is a very strong sign of an Enroute condition. If the
driver says 'let's go' that also can be reasonably construed as Enroute.
Most Enroute conditions mean that driving will take place within a few
minutes, but not always. If the driver of a car turns around on a three
hour trail ride, and says 'let's go home,' then an enroute condition
exists and Shotgun may be called immediately.
Forcible Dethronement (a.k.a. Physical Challenge)
There are some people in this world that always remember to call
Shotgun. Although this is an admirable trait at first, it quickly grows
old. These people tend to be real weenies, and if they knew better,
would sometimes let someone else call shotgun just to be a little more
diplomatic.The purpose of the Shotgun Constitution is to provide for a
peaceful, fair method of getting to ride Shotgun. Unfortunately, if an
introverted nerd consistently calls Shotgun ad nauseum, there must be
accommodations for that person to be forcibly removed from the seat.
Thus the Forcible Dethronement policy. This allows one other passenger
(usually larger in stature) to declare 'Physical Challenge!' and pull,
push or otherwise eject the previous Shotgun participant from the seat.
Although frowned upon if used regularly, this physical challenge is a
legitimate means of wresting Shotgun control away from the legal party.
Any physical tactics short of grievous bodily injury are employable.
The Dick Clause
Though not a formal by-law of the Constitution, the Dick Clause is a
necessary refinement in semantics.Just because the driver's girlfriend,
boyfriend, wife, whoever happens to be in the car, that Significant
Other does not get Shotgun by default. Anyone else can legally call
Shotgun and force the Significant Other to ride in the back. But then
of course that would mean that person is a Dick.
I first drafted the Shotgun Constitution in 1990 while attending
Embry-Riddle University in Florida. The Constitution was widely
distributed via fax, and steered many young passengers towards a more
democratic form of ridership. It is time to resurrect this living
document, and to let a new generation of passengers rightfully call
If there is any new case law I should be aware of for the Shotgun
Constitution, please e-mail me at: firstname.lastname@example.org. I will conduct a
judicial review of your case and see whether it merits an amendment to
© 1996 Peter Langston