Drones have definitely been causing a bit of a predicament over the past year, leading to the FAA implementation of a drone registry a couple months ago. Of course, there has been various reports of individuals shooting down drones for various reasons, including trespassing, and one Kentucky man even got off on charges of wanton endangerment and criminal mischief for shooting down a drone that was flying over his property.
With the FAA’s drone registry, drones are classed as “unmanned aircraft systems” and as such you would think drones then fall under federal aircraft protection rules. John Goglia, a contributor at Forbes, reached out to the FAA to clarify the aviation authority’s stance on shooting down drones, and in the response he received, the FAA pointed him to 18 USC 32 which states:
Amendments to 18 U.S.C. § 32 enacted in 1984 expand United States jurisdiction over aircraft sabotage to include destruction of any aircraft in the special aircraft jurisdiction of the United States or any civil aircraft used, operated or employed in interstate, overseas, or foreign air commerce.
As Goglia explains, statute 18 USC 32 makes it a felony to damage or destroy an aircraft, as well as a felony to interfere with anyone operating a drone and, depending on the offence, could land you up to 20 years in prison. The real issue here though, as Goglia elaborates, is the fact that no one has yet to be prosecuted federally for shooting down a drone, despite the FAA stating that “regardless of the situation, shooting at any aircraft — including unmanned aircraft — poses a significant safety hazard. An unmanned aircraft hit by gunfire could crash, causing damage to persons or property on the ground, or it could collide with other objects in the air.”
While it’s obviously a felony according to the law, do you think homeowners and others have a right to shoot down drones? Do you think those that do should be charged with a felony and prosecuted federally? Let us know in the comments below or on Google+, Twitter, or Facebook.