Is it Legal to Fire Tasers and Tear Gas from Drones?

Read on ecnmag.com.

There’s been a lot of talk about drone laws lately. Especially in North Dakota. Thanks to some fierce lobbying, police in North Dakota can now fly drones armed with tasers, tear gas, rubber bullets and other “less-lethal” weapons.

This law (H.B. 1328) was originally proposed to restrict law enforcement’s use of drones for privacy-invading surveillance, where police would need a warrant before using drones in searches. Well, only the warrant requirement survived. The original bill, which banned unmanned aircraft with any “lethal” or “non-lethal” weapons, has been revised to only include “lethal” weapons.

So what does one consider a “less-lethal” weapon? Police drones won’t be armed with missiles, but last I checked tasers are still capable of killing people, and a rubber bullet to the head isn’t quite a gentle blow.

Of course, for every situation there is an exception. The law has implications not only for normal criminal investigations, but also for crowd control. A fleet of flying drones would be much safer than officers patrolling the streets, in situations like the Baltimore riots or in other dangerous crowds, in which case, pepper spray is not beyond reason.

I don’t think the law is a bad one, but I do think it’ll be in police hands whether or not weaponized drones will be abused.

At this rate, if we want to incorporate drone technology, or really any technology, into law enforcement, we’ll probably have to rewrite the Bill of Rights to reflect the flawed compromise between Americans’ civil rights and police duties.

What do you think. Do you see this law going terribly wrong, or are you pro weaponized-drones?

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