Law on land covered by water
I was talking to a punt-gunning friend recently about the floods in Gloucestershire 10 years ago. He claimed that when rivers burst their banks he can punt over the fields and shoot, regardless of whether he has permission from the owner of the flooded land or not. His argument is that he is on top of the water, not on the land, and therefore still on the river. As this does not seem right to me, could you give me the correct answer?
Your friend is entirely wrong because Section 20 (Trespassing with a firearm) of the Firearms Act 1968 makes it clear that in referring to “land”, this word includes land covered by water. Armed trespass is a serious matter and anyone who commits such an offence risks a substantial fine, prison or both. There is the defence of “reasonable excuse”, but the proof falls on the person who is so accused to prove what he did was reasonable. This defence is designed to accommodate someone who has made a genuine mistake, such as straying on to land where he should not be. It will not work for somebody who deliberately goes over flooded land in a boat to shoot where he pleases.
Tell your punt-gunning friend that he is wrong and is in danger of committing a very serious offence if he persists with this ridiculous notion. BH SHOOTING TIMES & COUNTRY MAGAZINE • 57
The firearms act 1968 states that “land” includes land covered by water