Does anyone remember the old “Dragnet” theme? Put that tune to the words, “Dumb, dumb-dumb dumb,” and you’ll have some idea of our reaction to this story:
A New Jersey man was arrested after police say he shot down a neighbor’s remote control drone.
According to investigators, officers with the Lower Township Police Department were called to a home in the 1000 block of Seashore Road on September 26th to investigate the report by a resident that his remote control helicopter (drone) was shot down.
The suspect – a neighbor – was booked on charges of Possession of a Weapon for an Unlawful Purpose and Criminal Mischief, and his shotgun was seized by police.
We have seen a number of people, in various discussion threads, say that if a drone ever flew near their property they would shoot it down. We have sought to discourage such thinking. There is practically no good reason to discharge a firearm in a populated area, unless you are being attacked and threatened with impending death or great bodily harm (and the law on this varies by state – some require that you first exhaust all means of safe retreat before using deadly force).
A civilian drone is not a threat to your life or safety. It might be annoying. It might be regarded as an intrusion on your privacy (but not really – see here). But unless you’re in the crosshairs of a military drone in some godforsaken battlefield (and chances are that, if you do end up in such a situation, you are unlikely to know what’s coming until it’s too late), there is never a reason to shoot at one. At best, you might be sued for destroying someone’s private property.
But the more likely outcome is a story like the one above.
UPDATE: David Michael Butts at the UAV Legal News discussion group on Facebook makes an excellent observation: If the FAA insists on calling small drones “aircraft,” why didn’t this man just commit a federal crime?