Look! Up in the sky! It’s a bird! It’s a plane! No…
It’s your neighbor’s drone plinking pesky squirrels from his cherished chestnut tree and if your dog strays onto his lawn one more time, zap!
Hardly. In fact, somehow, somewhere, sometime soon, it’s inevitable. But will it be legal? Constitutional scholars are debating that question right now and some think that Second Amendment rights could extend to robotic arms — including “self-defense drones” outfitted with weapons.
“Does the Second Amendment cover my right to bear (robotic) arms? It sounds like a joke, but where does the line stop, and why?” wrote Peter W. Singer, director of Brookings’ 21st Century Defense Initiative, in 2010, noting the Constitutionality of privately owned and operated “self-defense drones” is, in fact, an “all too real question.”
Jason Koebler, science and technology reporter for U.S. News & World Report, writes in a May 21 article that “the technology to arm your own personal drone might become a reality” soon for the average Joe because pioneering garage tinkerers are already producing home-made, remote-controlled “unmanned aircraft” using increasingly available and decreasingly expensive technology.
Examples abound, especially on YouTube where, most notably, Kyle Myers posted a video of his “Prototype Quadrotor with Machine Gun” that was viewed more than 18 million times, prompting a March raid of his Royston, Ga., home by the ATF and FBI.
A survey of website bulletin boards frequented by gun owners reveals the prospect of owning and operating a “self-defense drone” is not suburban science fiction but something many are curious about.
“Do you think the Second Amendment will protect my personal defense drone?” asks ‘fyi2day’ in an April 24 tongue-in-cheek (?) discussion on The Daily Paul. “As soon as the price comes down on these babies, like on my flat-screen TV, I am going to buy one and program it to patrol my property like a bad arse flying junkyard dog! I am going to train it to fight other drones Michael Vick-style if they come to close and onto my property.”
Do so at your own peril because, right now, arming “unmanned aircraft” of any type is expressly forbidden by the Federal Aviation Administration.
“We currently have “rules” in the books that deal with releasing anything from an aircraft, period,” said Jim Williams, director of the FAA’s newly minted Unmanned Air Systems Integration Office in February. “Those rules are in place and that would prohibit weapons from being installed on a civil aircraft.”
In addition, as Koebler reports, “most” commercially-available drones aren’t strong enough to carry a firearm and cannot handle the recoil from firing most types of firearms “for the time being.”
“But,” he adds, “as technology improves and guns with little- or no-recoil become more commonplace, armed drones could become an issue.”
Most of the discussion among gun owners regarding drones has focused on fears — justifiable fears — of government intrusion.
“I am very concerned that this technology will be used against law-abiding American firearms owners,” Alan Gottlieb, founder and executive vice president of the Second Amendment Foundation told Declan McCullagh in a March 2 article. “This could violate Fourth Amendment rights as well as Second Amendment rights.”
But some gun owners are already pondering a response should they pestered by a local, state or federal drone.
“I’ve been thinking about exercising my Second Amendment right to buy an anti-aircraft gun as a protection against hostile drones,” writes Gene Owens on March 28 in the Anderson (Ind.) Independent Mail. “In the age of drones, no American home should be without an anti-aircraft gun.”
- Legislation to Promote Transparency, Privacy for Commercial and Government Drone Use (backcountryvoices.wordpress.com)
- To amend the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012 (backcountryvoices.wordpress.com)
- ‘Eye in the sky’ drones flying in San Diego County (backcountryvoices.wordpress.com)
- Think NSA Is Invading Privacy? Better Read FAA’s Plan To Integrate Drones Into US Airspace (forbes.com)