A tiny Colorado town has yet to vote on whether to allow residents and visitors to hunt for unmanned drones in their “sovereign airspace,” but the hunting “licenses” are already selling like hotcakes at $25 a pop.
Phil Steel brought national attention to his small town of Deer Trail, population about 550, when he proposed the drone-hunting ordinance earlier in the year. It would allow anyone granted a license — whose only qualification be that they speak English — to blast them out of the sky, so long as they use shotguns and only fire on drones flying under 1,000 feet.
Many in Deer Trail admit the absurdity of the ordinance, since no one can recall ever seeing a drone in its skies. But many are also looking at it as a potential revenue-generator for the town, since they’re not restricted to residents only. Soon after the town board decided to refer the idea to voters, town clerk Kim Oldfield told The Daily Caller News Foundation that 400 people had put their names on a waiting list.
That would equal $10,000 in revenue. Oldfield didn’t reply to an email asking how many names are currently on the waiting list.
Steel decided not to wait until an Oct. 8 special election and has begun selling the licenses on his own.
He told Denver’s 7News that the elaborate vellum certificates are only novelties.
“The people who buy this believe that if the federal government spies on them with drones, that no matter where they are, under the Constitution, they can fight back,” Steel said. “The license says that it may not be recognized. It says, ‘Kill Them All,’ then it says, ‘Death From Below.’ There’s tongue-in-cheek in here.”
The certificates contain fine print that reads, “License may not be recognized by tyrannical municipal, state or federal governments.”
Indeed, the Arapahoe County sheriff has warned the town board that anyone firing weapons in the town limits could face charges of reckless endangerment. He also reminded them that people under the influence of drugs or alcohol are prohibited from using weapons.
The Federal Aviation Administration has also taken notice of the town’s oddball plan, issuing its own warning that firing on drones carries the same penalties as firing on manned aircraft. The agency also noted how dangerous it could be.
The certificates have a look of authenticity, bearing not only Steel’s signature, but also that of Mayor Frank Fields. Fields told 7News that he signed them because they’re fake novelties.
“If I end up losing this job, I can still sign as the sovereign mayor,” he said.
It’s unclear whether Steel will still be allowed to sell the novelty licenses if the ordinance passes and the town wants to issue its own. He told the Denver Post he hopes to act as a vendor, providing them not only to Deer Trail but to any other municipality that passes similar laws in the future.
“The town will have the choice of reinventing the wheel,” Steel told the Post. “It’s a question of not whether licenses are going to be sold but a question of whether the town is willing to accept free money.”
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