As a kid, have you ever heard an older sibling or friend say “I call shotgun” before a car ride and wondered what that really meant? The answer may lie in old western legend.
In modern times, the term “I call shotgun” refers to sitting in the passengers seat next to the driver in a moving vehicle. It is treated as a game in which the first person to say “I call shotgun,” or “shotgun” pre-ride would get to sit next to the driver.
It is likely that the saying takes root in old western films. These movies often portrayed riding shotgun as riding next to the driver in a stagecoach while carrying a shotgun. Actors in these films used the guns to defend their cargo from bandits.
The stagecoach was eventually made obsolete by the transcontinental railroad in 1869.
But the term “I call shotgun” survives to this day, though usually passengers don't carry guns anymore!