§ Lord Brougham and Vaux
asked Her Majesty's Government:
What is their advice regarding the use of shotguns and rifles near (a) public highways and byways; (b) areas subject to provisions of the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000; and (c) populated areas. [HL3637]
§ Lord Rooker
It is the responsibility of any person using a rifle or shotgun to ensure that any shots are made safely. Before starting to shoot they should be aware of all footpaths, bridleways and rights of way and ensure that the angles of fire are safe.
It is not a specific offence to shoot across a public right of way. But doing so could amount to a common law nuisance; wilful obstruction of the highway under the Highways Act 1980, Section 137; or intimidation under the Highways Act, Section 130, if any person is threatened in any way.
Under Section 161 of the Highways Act 1980, it is an offence for any person, without lawful authority or excuse, to discharge any firearm within 50 feet of the centre of any highway which comprises a carriageway if, in consequence, any user is injured, interrupted or endangered. This applies to rights of way where there are vehicular rights only.
Under the Local Government Act 1972, Schedule 14, paragraphs 23 and 26, it is an offence to discharge a firearm in any street.
When it comes into force, the new right of access to open country and registered common land under Part 1 of the Countryside and Rights of Way Act may be subject to exclusions or restrictions. An owner or agricultural tenant will have discretion to close or 144WA restrict access for up to 28 days each year and applications may be made for further closures or restrictions in the interests of land management and safety, for example, where it is proposed to shoot over land.
If the police have reason to believe that a shooter represents a danger to public safety they can revoke the holder's certificate.