Colorado Town Drafts Ordinance Allowing Citizens to Shoot down Drones
Sometime next year it will be decided if hunting season on government drones will become a reality in a small Colorado town.
Leaders of Deer Trail (population: 598) drafted a local ordinance that would permit residents to shoot down drones flying overhead. The townspeople had planned to vote this week on whether to approve the measure, which—as far as anyone knows—would be the first such law in the United States. However, Mayor Frank Fields announced that the vote has been delayed until next year so a district court can first rule whether the proposed ordinance is legal.
Resident Phillip Steel proposed the law after he learned the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) was going to allow drone flights over the United States.
“What has me fired up is it’s trespassing,” he told CNN. “It doesn’t belong there. Yes, it’s privacy. But that’s only one part of it. Who’s going to be flying these drones?”
Based on his ordinance, what would he and other citizens of Deer Trail do if and when they see a drone in the sky? “I am proposing to shoot it down,” he confirmed. “They fly in, they get shot down,” he told Russia Today.
Another resident, Robert Copely, concurred. “I would shoot a drone down if it's peering in my window, scanning me, and it's within elevation where I can nail it,” he told the news network.
The FAA intends to establish six drone test sites around the country. Those locations have not yet been announced.
Widespread use of domestic drones could happen as soon as 2015.
In addition to authorizing the hunting of drones, the ordinance puts a bounty on recovered parts—$25 for a fuselage or wing, $100 for an entire aircraft that bears federal government markings.
The FAA has warned that attacking drones is illegal, and “could result in criminal or civil liability, just as would firing at a manned airplane,” according to a prepared statement. Noting the dangers of shooting at drones, it added that if one is “hit by gunfire [it] could crash, causing damage to persons or property on the ground, or it could collide with other objects in the air.”
At least one Deer Trail citizen sided with the agency. “That's a federal offense to destroy government property,” Daniel Domanoski told CNN. “And on top of that it's a ridiculous thing and embarrassing the town.”
As of 2012, 81 public entities have sought permission to fly drones in the U.S., according to the FAA.
Deer Trail isn’t the only place in the U.S. where citizens are concerned about the proliferation of drones flying overhead. Legislation to regulate their use has already become law in six states, proposed in another 36 states, according to the ACLU. They have been banned in Charlottesville, Virginia.
No states have yet followed Deer Trail’s lead in proposing that the unmanned aircraft be shot down.
- Danny Biederman, Noel Brinkerhoff
To Learn More:
Colorado Town to Vote on Drone Ordinance (by Ana Cabrera, CNN)
The Colorado Town Promising to Shoot Down Obama’s Surveillance Drones (by Matthew Francey, Vice)
Privacy Concerns Debated as FAA Lays Out Rules for Domestic Drone Operations (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)
Audit Reveals that FBI Has Been Flying Drones in U.S. since 2006 (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)
Here’s Who’s Buying Drones: Are Local Cops Watching You from the Sky? (by Matt Bewig, AllGov)
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