I am hearing of (and have occasionally experienced) the situation at medieval events where Reenactors are being refused service in beer tents (even service of soft drinks or "a half 'o shandy") during the "public hours" of the event... No big deal in itself, says I - and if that is how the beer tent suppliers/contractors wish to operate all well and good (that is their right as a business) and if that is part of the terms of the licence/insurance for the sales/event , again, all well and good. Comes with the territory...
But what I am hearing from people, and seeing in Warning Orders and the like is that the reason for this restriction is: "it is illegal to be drunk in charge of a weapon (even at a re-enactment event) and the Police will check"...
If we are talking firearms this is quite correct.
Also, if someone (drunk or not) is behaving like an idiot, bang goes their potential defence under any weapons legislation anyway.
However, what is being implied is that anyone who might otherwise has a lawful defence to carry a sword/weapon at an event but who has drink taken is automatically committing an offence (i.e. in the same way as you can be done for being drunk in charge of a vehicle even if in the back asleep).
Now, from researches at work and with PNLD* this does NOT seem to be the case with non-firearm weapons - e.g. swords, polearms and the like (*the PNLD response was, if anyone is interested, was "In terms of combat re-enactment and the consumption of alcohol essentially this is a matter for the organisers themselves to decide and we feel essentially comes down to health and safety / insurance issues and not so much a criminal matter. As with this type of activity there are inherent risks, however the service of alcohol will no doubt heighten such". All very clear and sensible).
So, being a sad little pedant (and having worked in the interpretation and enforcement of legislation for some three decades), I'm interested where this "illegal to be drunk in charge of a weapon" idea has come from, and wonder if anyone knows..
I suspect (given professional experience elsewhere) it has arisen because some event organisers are perhaps embarrassed to set out/admit to their own or their insurers' "No Alcohol" Ground Rules for events and are using the excuse of Legislation and the threat of Police to justify their (otherwise arguably perfectly reasonable) position. But does anyone else have any hints..?...
Any thoughts gratefully received...
General goss and chatting
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