The market may still be amused by Amazon's latest forward P/E boosting gimmick in the form of its entertaining (and stock price boosting if only briefly) proposal to deliver packages (some of which haven't even been ordered) by drone, but some US towns, tired of this endless invasion of just in time violators, are already taking aim at the messenger. Case in point: Deer Trail, Colorado, a city of 563, which Bloomberg reports, may approve today a measure that allows the town to issue hunting licenses for unmanned aerial vehicles, i.e., drones.
Apparently some luddites people still place civil rights over the potential of bottom line profits achieved through increasingly more intrusive technology. People like Phillip Steel, a 49-year-old welding inspector, who wrote the proposed law as a symbolic protest after hearing a radio news report that the federal government is drafting a plan to integrate drones into civilian airspace, he said. The measure sets a bounty of as much as $100 for a drone with U.S. government markings, although anyone who shoots at one could be subject to criminal or civil liability, according to the Federal Aviation Administration.
“That plan is a taking of property rights, a taking of civil rights,” said Steel, who wears a black duster coat and a cowboy hat. “According to a 1964 Supreme Court decision, a property owner owns airspace up to 1,000 feet above the ground.”
It also appears some Americans still value their privacy in an age when every US citizen is automatically expected to relinquish all private date to the NSA collective:
The Deer Trail ordinance highlights growing privacy concerns nationwide with the expanded use of camera-equipped drones, which can be as small as radio-controlled aircraft. Thirteen states enacted 16 laws addressing use of the tiny vehicles, and others are being considered in Indiana, Washington and Utah, according to the Denver-based National Conference of State Legislatures.
That said, one will hardly see the spirited approach as exhibited in libertarian Colorado towns spreading across the US:
The drone-hunting ordinance comes against a backdrop of secession votes last year in 11 rural Colorado counties seeking to form a 51st state -- with five voting in favor of studying such a plan. The move followed the enactment of the toughest gun restrictions in the state in a decade in response to a deadly shooting in an Aurora movie theater.
And why should it - people elsewhere are far more concerned with getting their fake Facebook clicks.
What is perhaps more amusing is that the FAA, instead of resisting this latest push to fill the skies with buzzing entities, has already warned the Colorado town of retaliation:
The Deer Trail proposal would allow those holding a $25 hunting license to shoot at drones within the one-square-mile town limits. Even if approved, the ordinance is illegal, federal and state officials said.
A drone “hit by gunfire could crash, causing damage to persons or property on the ground, or it could collide with other objects in the air,” the FAA said in a statement. “Shooting at an unmanned aircraft could result in criminal or civil liability, just as would firing at a manned airplane.”
Congress asked the FAA to develop a plan to integrate drones into U.S. airspace by September, 2015. The agency estimates about 7,500 commercial unmanned aircraft will be operating within five years of being allowed in U.S. airspace.
In this case Congress is merely doing the bidding of corporations which are delighted to have their "delivery objects" fill the sky, and of course the NSA. So nothing new there. Still, should Deer Trail pass the measure, it will likely incite at least some comparable moves in other smaller US cities where people still haven't completely lost their minds:
Steel was required to gather 19 signatures, or 5 percent of the registered voters in Deer Trail, to get the measure on the ballot. He turned in 23. Voter turnout is expected to be high in the town, located about 56 miles (90 kilometers) east of Denver, said Mayor Frank Fields, who is up for re-election.
“This could bring in some free money -- that’s why I’m all for it,” Fields said.
The proposal allows town officials to spend as much as $10,000 in municipal funds to “establish an unmanned aerial vehicle recognition program.” Shooters must be on private property and are limited to three shots per so-called engagement, “unless there exists an imminent threat to life and safety.”
The vote on the measure will take place today - we eagerly look forward to the outcome, and even more eagerly wait to see if in case of successful passage, the FAA will finally give the official green light to weaponize drones flying above the US. You know, for self-defense purposes...