Drone hunting is about to become a thing — for real

Giuseppe Macri Tech Editor
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Amazon’s drone delivery project has the potential to ship anywhere in the continental U.S. — anywhere except Deer Trail, Colo., where drone hunting is about to be legalized.

“I would shoot it down, ordinance or no, I would shoot it down,” Deer Trail resident Philip Steel told National Journal on Tuesday. “I will shoot it down and go to jail with a smile over my face.”

In just over a week, the town plans to vote on an ordinance allowing residents to purchase $25 drone-hunting licenses. If a licensee manages to bring one down with a load of buckshot, they can turn in the pieces for a $100 reward.

The ordinance reads like one giant run-on sentence describing the drone threat to the privacy and civil liberties of Deer Trail citizens:

“There shall henceforth exist a legal obligation of all citizens to defend their homes and community from incursions by unmanned aerial vehicles; and Whereas, many Western communities in rural America provide monetary incentives (bounties) for the killing of predators that are injurious to Man and his interests, the Town of Deer Trail likewise establishes hunting licenses and bounties for the killing of unmanned aerial vehicles, in keeping with the Western traditions of sovereignty and freedom.”

It even sets up a program to educate citizens on various models of drones and their capabilities. There is no age or background check requirement for obtaining a drone-hunting license.

“I wouldn’t say that I’m a fear monger; I’m trying to illuminate an imminent threat that is on the horizon,” Steel, who claims to be a former “Army psychological warfare officer,” said in National Journal. “The perception in the absence of fact becomes reality.”

Steel set up the town’s first drone-hunting practice session with model rockets serving as mock drones last week, and made his case for hunting drones to the town council wearing a cowboy costume.

He claims to have sent a drone-hunting license to Vladimir Putin, and to have a valid phone number for National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden.

The Deer Trail ordinance comes a month after the Federal Aviation Administration announced a five-year plan to move commercial drones into national airspace.

“Technology advances far quicker than the law does; as a society we are too eager to embrace the next new toy,” Steel said.

Though the Deer Trail example is a bit aggressive, the American Civil Liberties Union reports numerous states have begun to consider drone privacy legislation, and is tracking various bills’ progress here.

“Do I think 1984 is going to happen? Not in the same sense as George Orwell did—but I think its going to be a lot trickier than that, a lot more subtle,” Steel said.

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Giuseppe Macri