The writeup here as follows is based on an old post on rec.humor.funny
by Brian Gerk
and elsewise found by doing a google
search for the term "The Shotgun Constitution" (with quotes
), and is now reproduced here for posterity
. I've revised it slightly for editorial reasons. According to my research it has not been modified since some time in 1996, and Brian is no longer at the previous email on America Online
as was once listed. With that in mind, I think eight years on the public viewer is long enough. =)
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 'lets 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 'lets 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.
Post-amble - By Brian Gerk, wherever he is
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 SHOTGUN.