BY "DR. KNOW."
While driving late at night, I passed a deer that had been hit by a car. The poor thing was obviously not going to survive. If I'd been carrying a legal firearm, could I have euthanized the poor critter?—Dom
Welcome to Trump's America, where even the humor columns are rife with images of Bambi bleeding out by the side of a logging road after a botched mob hit.
I should probably begin by noting that, in real life, my readers are a self-selecting bunch of Proust-quoting, candy-assed intellectuals who are more likely to have a sherry trifle in their trunk than a gun. Still, in the post-apocalyptic alternate reality where I'm played by Jason Statham, what's the right call?
A quick troll of social media reveals that a depressingly large number of people have found themselves in the same situation you describe, Dom. And pretty much all of them say they wrestled with their internal lawyer in much the manner you imagine:
"Well, it's illegal to discharge a firearm within city limits. But isn't it also illegal to shoot in unincorporated areas inside an urban growth boundary? And also on BLM land—but only during certain parts of the year? Does this count as hunting? Even if it's hunting season and I have a license, isn't it illegal to hunt from the road?"
All of these tales ended one of two ways: (a) didn't have a gun, called the cops, and they shot the animal, or (b) had a gun, shot the animal, didn't get in trouble. Out in the sticks, where bullets are cheap, one quick gunshot—even if technically illegal—is probably not going to attract those helicopters from Grand Theft Auto.
In any case, it turns out that Oregon law makes a specific exception especially for this situation. According to ORS 498.016, it's not illegal to put "crippled or helpless wildlife" out of its misery "when the killing is done for a humane purpose." Whether American democracy counts as "crippled wildlife" remains to be seen.