The Town of Deer Trail, Colorado is tiny, with a population of only 598 and encompassing less than one square mile, but the local right wing radicals think big. They are prepared to take up arms and confront the authority of the federal government.
Resident Phillip Steel feels so threatened by the possibility of drone aircrafts flying over his home that he has proposed a local ordinance the town will vote on today which would authorize any citizen of the town to shoot down any drone he sees flying over head. The ordinance even includes a bounty to encourage people to plink away when they see one of these onerous machines.
Steel says that he came up with the idea when he heard that the FAA is conducting test programs in several areas in the country to devise a set of rules to govern the use of drones in U.S. airspace. This is indicative of his total ignorance on the subject since the tests he refers to have nothing to do with government use of drones, it is to set up rules for the private commercial use of the machines.
The FBI and Border Patrol are already using drones, as are other law enforcement agencies around the country, in surveillance operations. None of them are armed.
Steel however is a true radical, and when asked what he would propose to do should he see an unmanned aircraft flying over his home, he points his weapon at the sky and says, “I am proposing to shoot it down.”
“What has me fired up is it’s trespassing,” Steel says. “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?” He is apparently laboring under the delusion that he owns the airspace over his home, he does not.
Other residents share Steel’s sentiments, former mayor, Robert Copely said, “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.”
There are those in town who have level heads and a more reasonable view of the world, town resident Daniel Domanoski said, “That’s a federal offense to destroy government property, and on top of that it’s a ridiculous thing and embarrassing the town.”
The ordinance goes so far as to specify which weapons and what types of ammunition to use in shooting down these drones. The bounties listed are $25 for a fuselage or wing and $100 for an entire drone with government markings.
If the ordinance passes and Steel or Copely succeed in shooting down a drone owned by a large corporation with the deep pockets to hire a team of attorneys, it will be interesting to see how much it will cost them. These are expensive pieces of hardware that they are talking about destroying and it is hard to believe that the owners will absorb the loss without at least attempting to exact payment from the vandal who destroyed it.
It should also be noted that the FAA has weighed in warning the town that, “Shooting at an unmanned aircraft could result in criminal or civil liability, just as would firing at a manned airplane.”
The video below looks at the irrational law.