For those who follow me, Left or Right, and know my advocating sensible gun safety regulations, you will probably be surprised at the position I take on this; although it is consistent with my personal philosophy.
In Oct 2015, a Kentucky judge dismissed charges against William Meredith for taking a shotgun and shooting down a drone hovering over his property. Apparently, he was holding a BBQ and this camera-equipped drone, owned by David Brock, arrived over his property and stuck around; some reports say it was spying on his daughter. Long story short, Meredith got his shotgun and blew it out of the sky; for which he was arrested. This is the charge the judged dismissed.
Brock argues in a lawsuit filed in January 2016 in U.S. District Court in Louisville that Meredith did not have the right to shoot the craft down because the government controls every inch of airspace in America.
What's at issue? Meredith's right to enjoy his property without being spied upon with a drone in his airspace? Brock's right to fly a drone wherever he wants since the airspace is controlled by the gov't Meredith's right to destroy the drone as opposed to other remedies? Meredith's right to use a firearm.
Facts: 1) drones less than 1/2 lb must stay below 400' and 2) the gov't does not control airspace below 500'.
My position is, so long as discharging a gun is legal where he was and the projectile wasn't the kind that would come down to injure someone, Meredith had every right to shoot the drone down.
Given that your facts are right (and I have no reason to doubt them) and that it was legal to fire the shotgun from his yard (doubtful but possible) I would agree with you.
Not living in a city, I can't quite understand why discharging a firearm in your own yard would be illegal; but, the drone (if spying) is an intruder. I don't think shooting it down could be regarded as dangerous or deadly force. You do have a legal right to defend your privacy. I would say shooting the drone was similar to shutting your curtains. Or, maybe stepping on a listening device you had found. I can't imagine a society where it would be considered acceptable, and protected under the law, for one citizen to send in spy drones to invade the privacy of another law abiding citizen.
My only issue with shooting it down, and I got a small drone for X-mas (lost it immediately, and got another one), is if solid projectiles are used. Why? Because what goes up, must come down; possibly on somebody's head. A bullet might kill, but buckshot might only sting, if that.
What I am hoping to start a discussion on is the legal ramifications of all of this. There are so many different scenarios that can be made from a person and their drone vs property rights and drone vs privacy rights; not to mention the right to shoot at it.
One article I read wondered if a car was driven on to your property and wouldn't leave, do you have the right to destroy it vs call a tow truck or the police?
I can't imagine a valid argument being put forth in favor of a drone owner having the right to use it to invade the privacy of another person.
I find the car/drone analogy flawed. That would be, to me, like saying you could poison your neighbor's dog if you caught it in your flower bed because it's legal to poison bugs that can damage it.
I do see your problem with projectiles possibly causing additional harm. I suppose that is the risk the user of that projectile assumes when using it. I could see holding them responsible for additional damage to anything beyond the drone, unless the additional damage affected only the drone operator's property. In that instance, the drone operator created the conditions and should take responsibility for the outcome. If any damages were to be paid, maybe the drone operator should reimburse the spied upon party's cost of projectiles used to rectify the problem.
Now add to all of that the question when the drone is flying above a property, say a field, where the owner happens upon it in the air; what then?
The extreme, from the drone owners point of view, is that his use of the drone, think Amazon wanting to delivery packages, to the boundaries of their own property up to 500'. If that ends up being the case, then a person living in an apartment is limited to their living and bedrooms.or in and around the warehouse.
I have wondered about the Amazon drones. I thought they would end up being like the guy picking up balls on the practice range at a golf course; at the mercy of jerks seeing if they could hit it for fun. So, the delivery drone would have to be treated with a different set of rules from a spy drone. Rightfully so. Just as a pizza delivery guy should easily been seen as having certain protections under the law when conducting business on your property; as opposed to a guy with a mask and gun. I suppose it would be up to the company to clearly identify their drone with some type of markings.
Your question about celebratory shooting into the air. I heard about a young boy who was killed by a stray bullet from a shot in the air; so that is a problem. I don't know anyone who shoots randomly into the air, or why they might want to. I would think alcohol would normally play a factor and it is fairly inadvisable to mix fire arms and alcohol.
Yep, those are the issues.
While celebratory shooting isn't common in Europe, Canada, America, New Zealand, and Australia, it is common in many of the countries not listed. I would think it would be (and probably is) illegal in America for solid shot weapons to be used anywhere other than designated areas, e.g., hunting clubs, target ranges, as well as in self-defense.
If by solid shot weapons you are referring to handguns, rifles, shotguns etc. I assume you live in the city. I could step outside and fire one of our guns all day long and the likely reaction would be a neighbor stopping by to see what kind of shells I was using, where I purchased them, how much they cost, how far I had set the target and on and on. There is nothing illegal about it.
Shooting straight up in the air was your previous question which would be pointless and possibly dangerous.
Yeah, I am trying to differentiate between bullets and bird-shot.
Not sure they should be differentiated. Once, while working on a farm silo, I had shot pepper the tin walls from nearby bird hunters. Had I been outside, injury was certainly possible, particularly to face and eyes.
It may be fine to shoot straight up, whereupon the shot/bullet comes back to strike the shooter, but how many times does that happen? It's always at some kind of angle.
No, not straight up but at an angle so the bullet can land anywhere, in the forest, or as has happened on occasion, in somebody's head.
The reason I differentiate has more to do with distance rather than lethality. While I have never shot a shotgun of any kind, so I haven't seen it first hand, but the physics of it suggest the pellets don't go all that far, a few hundred yards, if that. Rifle bullets travel much, much further at a lethal speed; and that I have had a lot of experience with.
Peppering the walls is very different from raining down on the roof. I've been under bird shot which has lost forward momentum and although it was a little scary, everyone assured me it wasn't dangerous (and they were proven right). From your experience,it sounds like the silo was in the line of fire which would have been dangerous, had you been on the outside.
No, not in the line of fire, unless you consider the parabola the pellets took as "line of fire".
I'm not a ballistics expert, far from it, but it seems to me that a "spent" pellet in the eye would blind. Unlikely to kill, I would think, but scar, disfigure or blind would be quite possible. Certainly sufficient reason to ban the firing in a populated area where those pellets could come down in a neighbors yard or home.
Aside from drones, what's your position on celebratory shooting into the air from your own property?
Again, as others have mentioned, given the information you provided, I think Mr. Meredith was justified in shooting down the drone. The drone was acting as a peeping Tom. However, in Mr. Meredith's case, the drone could observe a lot more than someone peering through a window.
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