Question of the Day: “First American to Shoot Down a Drone Will Be A Hero.” What Gun for the Job? Edition by Robert Farago | May 18, 2012 | 50 comments facebook twitter linkedin email [HTML1] comments Bruce W. Krafft says: May 18, 2012 at 08:06 Depends on how high it is; if it’s close enough shoot it with a damned pistol! I believe 40 yards is the generally accepted maximum effective range for a 12 ga shot shell, so if it is running tree-top height (50-100 foot range) I’d go with my Saiga 12, 10 round mag, alternating #4 and 00. Longer ranges (under 300 yards or so) I’d probably go with my FN-FAL (in .308) with SPBT rounds (soft-point boat tail). Up to 500 yards I’d use my fiddy, which, unfortunately is a single shot but I suppose one hit with an incendiary or API round would do the trick. Best of all, however, would be to trash the damned things before they are launched. I figure that if things ever get bad enough that we’re looking to shoot down UAVs, things will be bad enough that there will be patriots willing to pass on information about storage and launch locations, travel plans, etc.. Lord willing, things will never get that bad, but the Big Guy hasn’t been taking too many of my calls lately . . . Reply freeport56 says: May 18, 2012 at 12:10 Use slugs! Reply Derek says: May 18, 2012 at 08:42 One of the low flying/r-c helicopter type “drones” or like, a fvcking Reaper? Cus I’m not shooting at a Reaper… I wouldn’t mind seeing one of the r-c chopper ones get hit with some steel #6 or so from a 3.5″ 10 gauge Browning BPS. Reply TTACer says: May 18, 2012 at 08:46 I think one of the biggest surprises of living in the future has been that “The Terminator” was the most accurate prediction. The dream of flying cars has been around forever and still hasn’t been realized, so I just figured the future would be more banal. Reply Totenglocke says: May 18, 2012 at 08:58 The government won’t stop this – this is exactly what they want. And yes, the man who shoots one down will be a hero to the people, but he’ll also be brutally beaten and then locked up for the rest of his life (or executed). Reply Pascal says: May 18, 2012 at 09:12 I would like to point out there is some narrow value to these drones for search and rescue operations because the can fly for long periods day and night without risking evac crews and several together can be placed in coordinated search patterns to cover a lot more ground. With the edition of thermal imaging in would work well to find lost campers, hikers or skiers after an avalanche. As with all govt reared items and their associated puke, abuse is always possible. I believe these are already deployed for border patrol. Reply Jim Barrett says: May 18, 2012 at 09:29 As the guy on the video said, no problem using these for S&R activities, but get a warrant first. That is the Constitutional way. As for shooting these down, good luck. They use them pretty extensively in the mideast where people have access to a lot more hardware than we do. Not too many get shot down over there. Reply Flexo says: May 18, 2012 at 09:28 Um, these are just remote cameras and they are as legal as traffic cameras, in-car police cameras, or other surveillance cameras. You do NOT need a search warrant for non-specific general surveillance. The Judge is spouting nonsense and hyperbole. Now the Air Force operating the drones, yes that is against the law. But a police department could certainly put a drone up to monitor traffic, public gatherings, or just fly around like they do in police helicopters (which do not require a warrant). There is no legal difference between a drone with a camera being operated from the ground and a police helicopter. Fox News is just (as usual) spouting idiocy to stir the pot and get people riled up. Reply Jim Barrett says: May 18, 2012 at 09:38 Not sure if I agree. Traffic cameras are intended to film very specific areas which is a good thing as many are operated by third parties on behalf of police. Surveillance cameras are ususally located on private property and film the goings on around that property. In some jurisdictions, you are required to post notice that filming is occurring. These devices would allow police and others to directly surveil you on your private property. I think that there mat be a legal distinction. The police helicopter analogy you use may or may not be accurate as I’m not sure if the cops have permission to cruise the skies whereever they want. Generally, helicopters stay within a specified area. Also not sure if the police would legally be able to fly with high resolution cameras filming people. I suspect that such a case has simoly not yet come up in court. If/when it soes, don’t assume that it will go the police’s way. You may ultimately be right, but I don’t think that the case is quite as cut and dried as you suggest. Reply Mark N. says: May 18, 2012 at 16:30 Flyovers with planes and helicpters have been through the courts already and have been approved as constitutional withut the need for a warrant. This is how marijane interdiction has been done for years, and those planes use thermal imaging cameras (pot is hotter than the surrounding forest). Police helicopters have flown over gardens in towns and cities, no problem. There is no right of privacy outside the home, even if it is private property. For example, even if you have a fense around your yard, there is nothin illegal or unconstitutional in a cop looking over the fence and seeing aything that is to be seen. I see no difference between such surveillance and the use of drones. The only thing that has been held unconstitutional, that I recall, is the thermal imaging systems that see through the walls of houses; the use of such equipment constitutes a search for which a warrant is required. And the only way to down a reaper or its unarmed counterparts, which fly along at 20,000 feet, is with a rocket, and I rather suppose the FAA would have a fit if you launched one, to say nothing about the Justice Department. Reply Totenglocke says: May 18, 2012 at 09:40 There’s always at least one pro-police state commenter on each post. Congrats on being the first for this post! Reply Henry Bowman says: May 18, 2012 at 09:46 Totenglocke, don’t you realize that if you write words on paper and call it a law then it makes anything you want to do perfectly okay? Sheesh. Reply WildWest says: May 18, 2012 at 09:53 There is a difference (legally) between traffic cameras which watch intersections and public roads (to act as a revenue source rather than a safety tool) and cameras which place eyes in the sky and can peer into private property rather than only public domain. The state is required to adhere to search and seizure laws as we do have some right to privacy. The Judge is correct. They need a search warrant. Also, did you not listen to the language? The police an individual states have not had any FAA licensing issued for their drones. Only the Air Force (our military) is operating these drones, and within the borders of the US. That makes this a fundamental violation of the Constitution and a violation of the Posse Comitatus act. Reply Mike S says: May 18, 2012 at 10:23 This video must be a little old. This week, the FAA approved the use of drones weighing up to 25lbs by public safety agencies. Reply JTRNW says: May 18, 2012 at 10:12 Then you would be fine with your local PD putting a camera up in your back yard? The reason that traffic cameras are legal is that they are surveying government property not private property. Reply Phydeaux says: May 18, 2012 at 13:03 Remember when Democrats were the ones supporting civil rights and the Bill of Rights? They were the ones against government surveillance powers and such. My how times have changed. Reply nonnamous says: May 18, 2012 at 14:53 It’s a one party system, they just take turns protesting it before they support it. Reply Totenglocke says: May 18, 2012 at 17:01 I’ve been saying this for years. Henry Bowman says: May 18, 2012 at 09:41 Dear future drone-shooting hero, Please do not use .50 BMG. There are already too many hysterics spouting the supposed terrorist applications of that round. Please use something that is already heavily regulated, like a 20mm Solothurn. Thank you. Reply karlb says: May 18, 2012 at 09:43 I hate the idea of this, but I have no idea what Napolitano is basing his opinion on when it comes to police force using these drones. While repugnant, I fear this is legal. Ralph? Reply WildWest says: May 18, 2012 at 09:56 Posse Comitatus is fairly clear. The military cannot operate within our borders against American citizens. Only the Air Force is operating drones. The FAA has not issued licensing to any state police drones. And these would require a search warrant to do more than watch a public roadway. There are still private property and privacy rights here. For now. Reply HAVE GUN says: May 18, 2012 at 10:19 “And these would require a search warrant to do more than watch a public roadway.” Since when? Reply Henry Bowman says: May 18, 2012 at 10:53 1791 karlb says: May 18, 2012 at 12:41 I should have been clearer; I just meant the police. It seems very clear to me that the military cannot use them except with the very clear exceptions cited by Napalitano. Reply ChainsawWieldingManiac says: May 18, 2012 at 13:33 “The FAA has not issued licensing to any state police drones.” Wrong. The FAA has most certainly done this. Google if you don’t believe me. Reply Ralph says: May 18, 2012 at 12:02 Fourth Amendment law is evolving rapidly. Once upon a time, warrantless searchesFreedome from police spying once depended on a person’s “reasonable expectation of privacy.” In other words, if you were on the street, nothing you did could be considered private. In your own backyard, maybe. A more recent surveillance case that banned warrantless GPS tracking in some cases is cited here: http://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/11pdf/10-1259.pdf In this case, the majority threw out the GPS evidence because the government committed a trespass. The majority did not use the expectation of privacy test. So now, the 64 Thousand Dollar Question: Is Fourth Amendment law now based on common law trespass, or privacy rights? Is an overflight of one’s home an invasion of privacy? Probably. Is the same overflight a trespass? Probably not. Reply bontai Joe says: May 18, 2012 at 09:50 Traffic cameras focused on public streets is one thing, flying a camera over my backyard, taking thermal images of the inside of my house, or of my daughter sunbathing is a totally another thing. I sure don’t like this idea at all. Reply AZRon says: May 18, 2012 at 09:54 “If you’re not doing anything illegal, you have nothing to fear.” Isn’t that what we’re always told? Yeah, I’m not buying it either. Reply Rokurota says: May 18, 2012 at 10:02 … a Fourth Amendment search occurs when the government violates a subjective expectation of privacy that society recognizes as reasonable. We have subsequently applied this principle to hold that a Fourth Amendment search does not occur — even when the explicitly protected location of a house is concerned — unless “the individual manifested a subjective expectation of privacy in the object of the challenged search,” and “society [is] willing to recognize that expectation as reasonable.” — Kyllo v United States The moment we (society) change what “reasonable expectations” are, we lose our privacy. Hold the line. Reply Ralph says: May 18, 2012 at 12:07 The question is whether Jones adds to Katz (which is the seminal case) or subtracts from it. Frankly, I have no idea. Reply 9mm&4wd says: May 18, 2012 at 10:26 I may not like the drones, but you won’t catch my ass trying to shoot one down. For one, as someone said, they’d love an excuse to do some more grabbing. Two, safety. What comes up must go down. Three, and this gets a little elementary school, but there’s better ways to handle a problem. But that’s just common sense. Reply nonnamous says: May 18, 2012 at 10:55 Hackers will be far more useful than guns. Make friends with your local nerds Reply racer88 says: May 18, 2012 at 10:57 If faced with a drone over my house, I will gather the family and give the drone a “four-moon” salute! (as tempted as I would be to shoot it down) I agree that over private property it’s a 4th Amendment violation – BIG TIME. It’s not the same as traffic cameras. Reply Dubya Bee says: May 19, 2012 at 00:23 Your agreement has no weight on the facts of the law. Police have been overflying using plain eyeballs, binoculars, video cameras, thermal cameras and other specialty cameras (that can distinguish the particular shade of green of marijuana) for more than a few years now. It’s a settled fact of American case law. You have no reasonable expectation of privacy from anyone looking down from above. This is not to say I don’t hate this. But I have watched these cases be decided one by one in the newspapers over the decades. Reply Aharon says: May 18, 2012 at 11:16 Nets. We need big huge nets made out of recycled plastic or hemp to catch the drones as they fly by. Surely, the good folks south of the border will give up growing and making drugs to go straight given the opportunity to do good. They only do it because they have no other choice, right? OK, let’s have them make big nets for sale in the USA. Making nets means they will no longer be economic victims of oppression by either the USA (which ‘stole’ their land — eyes rolling here) or need to work for the cartels. Nets will liberate us all. Reply Guywithagun says: May 18, 2012 at 12:39 Great idea! Let’s string together all those plastic 6 pack holders into a big net. That way, we get to kill drones AND save the fishies and dolphins and turtles. Reply Rooster says: May 18, 2012 at 12:44 “Where, as here, the Government uses a device that is not in general public use, to explore details of the home that would previously have been unknowable without physical intrusion, the surveillance is a ‘search’ and is presumptively unreasonable without a warrant.” Kyllo v. United States, 533 U.S. 27, 40 (2001). This quote is from a case where the Supreme Court considered the government’s use of thermal imaging to discover a marijuana grow operation in the appellant’s home. Scalia characterized this as an intrusive search because, inter alia, the use of thermal imaging might reveal personal details like when the lady of the house takes her bath, or some such thing. I think the test set out above would dictate against the warrantless use of drones, as they are not in general public use and reveal details that would previously have required a physical intrusion– for instance, if you had a privacy fence, it would traditionally have required the police to enter the perimeter of the fence to find out what was behind it. There has been some erosion of the standard above, notably in the 8th Circuit, and as another poster points out, 4th Amendment law is very dynamic, so I’m of the opinion that every new search technique really needs to be tested in court to determine whether it will require a warrant. As to shooting these things down, I doubt you could do that responsibly and safely, given that you’ll be firing in the air and thusly unsure of your backstop. In the crowded cities in which many of us live, this could present a serious safety issue. Reply Mark N. says: May 18, 2012 at 16:35 You missed the key phrase–“in the home.” Backyard is not part of the home. Reply Mark N. says: May 18, 2012 at 16:39 This is the controlling case for federal law (from the syllabus, not the opinion): On the record here, respondent’s expectation of privacy from all observations of his backyard was unreasonable. That the backyard and its crop were within the “curtilage” of respondent’s home did not itself bar all police observation. The mere fact that an individual has taken measures to restrict some views of his activities does not preclude an officer’s observation from a public vantage point where he has a right to be and which renders the activities clearly visible. The police observations here took place within public navigable airspace, in a physically nonintrusive manner. The police were able to observe the plants *208 readily discernible to the naked eye as marijuana, and it was irrelevant that the observation from the airplane was directed at identifying the plants and that the officers were trained to recognize marijuana. Any member of the public flying in this airspace who cared to glance down could have seen everything that the officers observed. The Fourth Amendment simply does not require police traveling in the public airways at 1,000 feet to obtain a warrant in order to observe what is visible to the naked eye. Pp. 1812-1813. California v. Ciraolo (1986) 476 U.S. 207, 207-08 [106 S.Ct. 1809, 1810, 90 L.Ed.2d 210] Reply Gordon Couger says: May 18, 2012 at 13:15 The first drone has already been shot down see: http://thetandd.com/animal-rights-group-says-drone-shot-down/article_017a720a-56ce-11e1-afc4-001871e3ce6c.html?mode=video It was at pigeon shoot where animal rights activists were photographing the event with a small quad copter in spite of being legal restrained from doing so. One of the participants did the obvious and shot the noisy thing down. Red http://www.popsci.com/technology/article/2012-02/after-pigeon-hunt-thwarted-shooters-take-down-activist-groups-spy-drone Reply Dex says: May 18, 2012 at 18:10 dude, that is a civilian toy, which is like comparing a Cessna to a F15 fighter jet. Reply GS650G says: May 18, 2012 at 16:16 Send up a RC helicopter with a laser pointer. Or just run the thing into it. That would create a complicated legal situation for sure. Reply Gun Mercchant Service says: May 18, 2012 at 17:21 I have a 12 gauge with 00 buck and an ar-15. Both will be used. Reply Dex says: May 18, 2012 at 18:07 sorry guys, but i have had extensive experience within the drone world and small arms fire is not the ideal way to shoot one down. The best solution, arguably, is what Iran did to the stealth drone (if you believe the media): jam it and cause it to crash. Indeed, during a report written in CBS i believe about the fall of the american empire, a scenario was presented where China, aided by their extraordinary super computers, effectively disabled americas UAV fleet with a devilishly complicated coding language that inferior american computers couldnt crack. Believe the possible scenario as outlandish or not, my point is that jamming the signal between the homebase and drone is the best way to destroy it. Trying to shoot it down with small arms is, for all practical purposes, impossible. The only alternative is to use a Stinger MANPADS, which, like its Russian counterpart, the Strela, is nearly impossible to obtain 😀 Mounting a machine gun on your bushplane is suicide too. The MQ-1 Predator has two “hardpoints”, which are used to mount a Hellfire laser guided air to ground missiles, though it is possible to arm it with air-to-air Stingers and the new Griffin missile system developed exclusively for UAVs. Stinger missile beats jerry rigged machine gun. Reply Buster says: May 18, 2012 at 18:12 If it has a Hellfire missile on it, let it go…. Reply Sean says: May 18, 2012 at 18:52 Easier to just find where they fly them from, and destroy them on the ground. Seriously, I doubt they will fly the drones low enough to hit . Reply HSR47 says: May 18, 2012 at 22:39 This is what .50 BMG excels at: long-distance anti-materiel. Reply Tom says: May 18, 2012 at 18:55 Shooting the drones might be best with my rotable Nazi issued Luftwaffe 88mm radar controlled high velocity FLAK gun mounted in my backyard. I bought it down at the local Walmart opposite the machine gun aisle. Reach out and touch something. Reply Ed Fisher says: May 20, 2012 at 19:51 I hope that it’s an old gun ,maybe a 45/100 sharps! Reply donttread onme says: January 22, 2013 at 23:20 Why? what is the motivation of the Government to know everything we are doing? Is this the Minority Report mentality? To prevent crime before it happens? The new law department will be, The Department of Anticipation of Crime. Here comes Skynet. There will be resistance. Reply Write a Comment Cancel reply Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *Comment Name * Email * Website Notify me of follow-up comments by email. Notify me of new posts by email.