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"Riding shotgun" is an American expression meaning the privilege of sitting beside the driver in a moving vehicle, implying giving actual or figurative support or aid to someone. When Wells, Fargo & Co. began regular stagecoach service from Tipton, Missouri to San Francisco, California in 1858, it issued shotguns to its drivers and guards. The guards on express shipments were called shotgun messengers and carried a Coach gun, typically a 10- or 12-gauge double-barreled "cut-down" shotgun. Barrel lengths were 18 to 24 in (460 to 610 mm) long instead of the 28 to 36 in (710 to 910 mm) for bird hunting guns. The term "riding shotgun" first appeared in "The Sunset Trail," a 1905 novel about the legendary Western lawman Wyatt Earp written by Alfred Henry Lewis, a muckraking investigative journalist for "Cosmopolitan" and other publications.
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