You’re hanging out in your backyard when suddenly a drone approaches, a friendly little recreational quadcopter. It zooms over your house before it doubles back and sits there in the sky, hovering over you and staring you down. It doesn’t look so friendly anymore. It looks like a spy.
In the past few years, there’s been a lot of time and effort devoted to the complicated question of whether you ought have the right to shoot that sucker down. Last month, a Kentucky man was arrested on charges of criminal mischief and wanton endangerment for doing just that. In 2014, a New Jersey man faced similar weapons charges for shooting down a drone over his property. The state of Colorado smacked down a fervent effort to bring about official “drone-hunting licenses” and the FAA has come out to ask that you please not shoot drones, citing dangers of collateral damage and firing guns into the air.
The ways you can end up in a sticky legal situation by shooting at a drone are many and terrifying. I reached out to Brendan Schulman, drone-lawyer turned VP of Policy & Legal Affairs for drone company DJI, for specifics on the legal nightmare. Naturally, it depends a bit on state law, but the broad strokes are widely applicable:
In some states, you could face reckless endangerment charges or be prosecuted under laws relating to the discharge of firearms. By destroying the drone, you may be liable for civil damages to its owner. Although I have not seen it raised yet, there is also a federal crime in Title 18 relating to destruction of an aircraft that could apply, and that would involve very serious penalties.
All that is to say that shooting drones is probably a bad idea and we don’t recommend it. But let’s set that all aside for just a second and ask a different question: What’s the best way to do it anyway?
To that end, I had a chat with Marque Cornblatt, founder and CEO of Game of Drones which specializes in DIY drone-kits and heavy-duty airframes. These are the kind of drones designed for in-air, BattleBot-style shenanigans. He’s overseen his fair share of durability tests, including ones that involved the (safe and controlled) firing of actual guns at actual flying drones.
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