After the reports of some idiot flying a drone over the 416 Fire, why doesn’t law enforcement shoot down the thing with a shotgun? Seriously. Just blast it out of the sky with a 12-gauge. Then cite the owner for reckless endangerment. – Mad As Hell
Action Line shares your indignation and call for swift retribution.
However, as with most situations in life, things are not that simple.
Drone law is about as clear as the ashen early morning air hanging over Durango these days.
On the one hand, there’s the July 2015 case of the drone slayer who was sick of his neighbor flying a quadcopter over his home and property.
Determining that the offending craft suffered from a lead deficiency, the homeowner successfully provided immediate high-speed airborne metallic supplements.
As a result, he was arrested for criminal mischief and wanton endangerment.
The incident took place in a Kentucky county by the name of “Bullitt.” Action Line does not make this stuff up.
Anyway, months later, a judge determined that flybys and hoverings did indeed invade privacy, ruling that the slayer “had the right to shoot this drone.”
The drone owner then made it a federal case, which was dismissed with prejudice last year. The district judge said airspace is the FAA’s business.
This was a case about privacy, not about interfering with emergency responders.
However, Utah – not usually the vanguard of legal creativity – pioneered legislation on Make My Drone Day.
In 2016, the Beehive State was all abuzz when moron drone operators got in the way of aircraft battling wildfires.
So Utah passed laws allowing emergency responders to “disable” drones, which includes shotgun management techniques.
No drones have been bagged so far. And it’s unlikely the Utah constabulary will shoot first and ask questions later.
Would a smoldering downed drone spark another fire? Why use shotguns when jamming technology is now available? Or about Denmark training birds of prey to hunt drones?
The ironic part of this is that the FAA is clearly in charge of airspace. But Utah has asserted its rights to govern what happens aloft locally.
Sound familiar? It’s akin to Colorado saying OK to pot, but the feds say not.
So maybe expensive toys and potent dope will be those Very Important Public Issues that further define states’ rights in the U.S. Constitution.
Drones and marijuana: beacons of American democracy!
In any case, Action Line wanted to get local law enforcement’s take on blaze-buzzing drones.
Fuggetaboutit. Bothering the sheriff this week would fly in the face of common sense.
HHHI live near the 416 Fire, and in the past couple of days, I’ve asked people with lit cigarettes if they knew they were only allowed to smoke inside a vehicle or building. Both claimed they did not. How do we get the word out? Could the county road signs (the computerized ones) have a scroll of restrictions? Thank you, Linda
La Plata County is under State 2 Fire Restrictions. That means no smoking outside. Period.
This has been announced for well over a week. But some people are plain clueless or just don’t care.
Electronic signs aren’t likely going to change that. But we’ll try.
Action Line called the La Plata County government fire hotline and spoke with our good friend Ron Corkish with La Plata County Search and Rescue.
“It’s a good idea but right now, the electronic billboards are all about road closures, evacuations and public safety directions. We really can’t do specific mitigation messages at this time,” he said.
Then Action Line had a brainstorm: What if drones with small fire extinguishers were deployed across the county to spray the faces of anyone smoking outside in rural areas?
Those drones would get shot down faster than you could yell, “Welcome to Stage 3 Fire Restrictions!”
Email questions to email@example.com or mail them to Action Line, The Durango Herald, 1275 Main Ave., Durango, CO 81301. You can ask for anonymity if they can take your drone when they pry it from your cold, dead hands.