Dueling is one of those things that lie in the past, for the most part, that some people have argued we should consider bringing back. After all, in an era where some people seem to find just about anything offensive, it might be nice to have some way to demand satisfaction from people who call you racist because you’d rather not see criminals avoid arrest for things like shoplifting.
But it’s not a thing now, at least as most people think of it, and that’s probably for the best. After all, dueling was fatal to a lot of people over the years.
Yet it seems at least one person, an attorney in Ohio, thinks that Stand Your Ground laws are, basically, dueling reborn.
As I noted, however, the deadly practice is now making a return in Ohio and other states—and believe me, the combatants aren’t carrying flintlocks.
Dueling’s comeback is fueled by the Ohio’s recently enacted stand-your-ground and constitutional carry laws. These relaxed firearms statutes are already wreaking havoc, violence, and death spontaneously as it becomes easier for people to carry weapons either openly or concealed on their person.
Mix the presence of guns with alcohol and/or drugs, unintentional or intentional physical contact, or a remark about someone’s paramour and suddenly the air is full of hot lead which may hit the intended target, innocent bystanders, or both.
While the sudden, unplanned outbreak of gunfire is troubling, law enforcement is becoming increasingly concerned about the prospect of pre-arranged shootouts made possible by a 2021 law that expanded Ohio’s stand your ground which once applied only to a person’s home, business, or vehicle to include any place a person has a legal right to be.
This is, without a doubt, the dumbest argument I’ve ever seen against Stand Your Ground and Constitutional Carry laws. When you look at the totality of what’s been said against both of those laws, you start to recognize just how much of a significant milestone that actually is.
See, the big difference between dueling and Stand Your Ground laws is that the laws in existence today don’t give you carte blanche to shoot at other people. You have to be subject to a violent crime and be acting in self-defense.
A duel is no such thing.
What’s more, the author knows this. Here’s his scenario to try and illustrate that this nightmare scenario is realistic.
To understand how that may facilitate the resurrection of dueling consider the following: Person A says something nasty about Person B, or owes Person B money, or makes a discouraging remark about their partner or spouse or is angry for anyone of the nearly incalculable reasons people become angry with one another. Person B calls or DMs Person A and says, let’s settle this like men. Bring your piece, meet me in the parking lot at 9 p.m. or everyone is going to know you’re a lying coward.
A and B show up, insults fly along with lead, one or both are hit, and both can plead self-defense under Ohio law. They were legally carrying firearms, they were in a place they both had a right to be, they both had a reasonable belief that they were in danger, and they did not have a duty to retreat. Oh, and they weren’t carrying flintlock pistols. Take it from me, someone or lots of people will get shot.
Except that Florida passed the first Stand Your Ground law in the US back in 2005. That basically codified things that were already case law in a lot of places–Georgia’s went back to 1898–but made it so that couldn’t be changed by a judge who disagreed with previous rulings.
In 18 years since that law was passed, I’ve never seen a situation where a scenario like that played out. If it had, it would have been all over the news because the media loves to make Stand Your Ground laws look bad.
The fact that it hasn’t means this doesn’t look like much of a concern.
Especially since, if it had, I’m pretty sure the author would have cited the particular example. Why present a hypothetical if you know it’s really happened?
The short answer is that it hasn’t.
Further, if it did, one or both parties would be prosecuted because Stand Your Ground laws only apply to self-defense. That part is important because it’s not self-defense if you go looking to shoot someone, which is what happens in a duel.
Self-defense implies that you are being attacked, meaning you’re not in a mutually agreed-upon form of combat. So no, you wouldn’t get away with a duel because of these laws.
What’s more, the author wrote a halfway decent summary of the history of dueling, at least with pistols, so he’s not completely oblivious to the reality on the subject. And yet, he still tried to make this argument.
Wherever he went to law school owes him a refund for their failure to teach him how to think.