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Should Dueling Be Legal in The U.S.?

Should Dueling Be Legal in The U.S.?

Libertarian Country |

I went to see John Wick: Chapter 4 in the theater on Saturday, and the cinematic portrayal of martial arts and gun battling got me thinking...should dueling be legal in the United States?

You're reading a libertarian publication, so you already know our answer is yes. But let's dive deeper into why it should be legal.

If two parties wish to settle a dispute and agree that the only method to resolve the issue is to fight to the death, the state should honor the mutually signed contract and permit the duel.

It sounds crazy--or perhaps like a joke--but it makes sense when observing libertarian political philosophy and natural law.

Let's get into it. Pistols at dawn! 30 paces!

Should Dueling be Legal?
If both parties agree to the terms of the duel, it should be within their freedom to engage in honorable combat without fear of penalty or ramifications from the government.

The duelers' mutual consent should null and void the authority of the government to invoke the law to punish the winner's act of manslaughter. While it's ordinarily unlawful to take another person's life, if both parties sign a waiver of their rights consistent with the dueling contract, there is no ethical or philosophical reason to prohibit the duel by law.

Yes, the winner has killed someone, but the loser consented to the terms of the duel, which stated that death was a potential and likely outcome. It was the loser's right to wager their life in combat.


If one of the core and essential functions of the government is to enforce contracts, they should honor a dueling contract.

Libertarian philosophy supports the idea that dueling should be legal, provided the contenders each consented and signed a dueling contract to forfeit their protections under the law temporarily.

Because every individual has a claim over their own life and body, known as self-ownership, they have the right to wager their life in a binding dueling agreement.

It's not much different than signing a consent form to allow a surgeon to operate on you. If you die as a result of properly executed surgery, the doctor is not liable for your death and cannot be charged with manslaughter by the state. The signed consent form illustrates the mortality risk and removed the government's power to punish the doctor.


The government prohibiting and criminalizing duels is unethical and a breach of power and authority. By prohibiting duels, the government effectively claims ownership over the individual and takes away their natural autonomy, a transgression of the core philosophy that permeates the U.S. Constitution.

People have a natural right to do unto themselves as they wish, including wagering their life in a dueling contest. As John Locke said, "every man has a property in his own person. This nobody has any right to but himself. The labor of his body, and the work of his hands, we may say, are properly his."

We here at Libertarian Country believe that peaceful resolutions to conflicts are the sensible approach in all private and political matters. However, the philosophical principle of self-ownership is paramount. Therefore, we see the government claiming authority over a person, stripping them of their natural autonomy, and restricting duels as acts of tyranny.

You have authority over your life!

If you enjoyed this article, you may also like '26 Voltaire Quotes Every One Should Read Today'.

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