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Drones are just about everywhere these days, and people are getting nervous. Americans value their privacy, and the idea that anyone with a little disposable cash can buy a camera-equipped flying machine and soar onto other people’s property, recording them in their most intimate and private setting, is understandably upsetting. Some of those who’ve taken exception to these violations have taken matters into their own hands, but so far things have not gone well for them . . .

In California, a court decided against a man who shot down a hexacopter that was flying on or near his property. According to the ruling, the man “acted unreasonably in having his son shoot the drone down regardless of whether it was over his property or not.” In other words, even if the drone was over his property and actively spying on him, blowing it out of the sky was over the line. Another similar case is working its way through New Jersey’s judicial system.

But there’s at least some hope that William Meredith’s attempt to defend the honor of his teenage daughter might turn the judicial tide in favor of those willing to assertively defend their privacy (and their property) rights. The Meredith’s daughter was laying out by their backyard pool when a video-equipped drone appeared over his property and hovered. That prompted the Kentucky man to grab his shotgun (he had one at hand, as every father of a teenage girl should), took aim and peppered the whirligig with a couple of loads of lead.

According to Ars Technica when the perturbed drone owners arrived the man handled the situation.

Minutes later, a car full of four men that he didn’t recognize rolled up, “looking for a fight.”

“Are you the son of a bitch that shot my drone?” one said, according to Merideth.

His terse reply to the men, while wearing a 10mm Glock holstered on his hip: “If you cross that sidewalk onto my property, there’s going to be another shooting.”

According to reports, the man has been charged with criminal mischief and wanton endangerment. However, since this is Kentucky and not California or New Jersey, his odds would seem to be better that the court hearing the case won’t immediately jump to an anti-gun conclusion.

In the emanations and penumbras that gave us the Roe v. Wade decision, the Supreme Court discovered a right to privacy in the 14th Amendment’s due process clause. That being the case, what good is that right if you’re not able to defend it on your own property?

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  1. Nope. It’s dangerous shooting them in urban areas and the drones are privately owned worth upwards of $2,000. You wouldn’t shoot a car parked across from your house because somebody was sitting there looking at you, why would you shoot a drone? Just call the police if they’re harassing you.

    • If it’s low enough that birdshot will take it out, and over my property, it should be fair game. There is a right to both property and privacy. Airplanes get a pass because of public good – i don’t see a compelling public good from allowing dangerous drones over private property without permission, insurance, training, etc.

      • Agreed that its fair game.
        In this day and age a drone can easily take compromising photos and plaster them on the internet before you even realized someone was watching. Drones can also cause damage if the owner loses control.

        A drone owner should know better than to be on someones property without their permission, by remote control or otherwise.

      • Once one of these things crashes into a person in their backyard, or even better, someone flies one into the backyard of a POLITICIAN, then we’ll see meaningful change.

      • To what altitude do you unilaterally claim as your own personal airspace, subject to your declaration of a no-fly zone?

        Commercial jetliners fly at just a few thousand or even a few hundred feet ovet neighborhoods upon their final approach. A passenger with binoculars could easily see into your backyard. Would you fire on a commercial jetliner? Would you at least have the right to? What moral or ethical principle would permit firing on a drone, but not a plane?

        Is it that there are people, innocent people, aboard the plane? I doubt one could shoot down a commercial jetliner with a single rifle, or that there’s a realistic probability of doing so. What if you used some nonlethal, like a laser pointer? Would you have the right to harass, not crash, a plane flying over your property?

        Upon reflection, I expect you’ll find that the bounds of flying drones, whatever they may be, and a person’s rightful array of responses to drones, whether witjin their rightful bounds, are two separate issues.

        Whatever rules develop governing drone use remains to be seen. However, none of them will ever permit you to to blast away at the sky.

        • Depends, was this commercial airliner created purposely on surveillance? Because a drone flying around my home is clearly monitoring the area unlike a commercial airliner transporting people the same way you wouldn’t fire at a passing vehicle but a drone on the other hand is practically a mobile camera.

        • If a commercial jetliner is flying low enough to the ground to be hit with a shotgun, it has worse problems than being shot at.

      • “the drone’s operator, David Boggs, has provided a video record of the drone’s movements on the date of the incident, appearing to show that the vehicle was over 200 feet in the air at the time it was shot down. ”

        200ft with birdshot?

        Another source claims that selfsame data shows the drone to only be over the shooter’s property for about 30 seconds before being shot down.
        Most of these drones are pretty small (around shoebox sized). So we are to believe that Mr. Meredith noticed and identified the drone at distance; then, retrieving his shotgun, downed a moving aircraft purported to be outside of the effective range of his weapon in the space of 30 seconds? …I want to shoot 3-gun with this man.

        • Agreed. That’s one heck of a shot. I don’t know anyone who shoots a shotgun that well.

      • Airplanes and helicopters don’t generallly circle and hover over someone’s property transmitting voyeuristic images of young teenages. At the altitude they operate, there’s still some semblance of privacy. It’s a whole different situation when machines hover 50′ over one’s property in an area generally considered private (e.g. appropriate fencing) from casual observation.

        Maybe folks should fly their drones and take video of celebrities and politicians in their private residences, after all it’s apparently legal to do so.

      • Absolutely will shoot one out of the sky unless someone has gotten prior permission from me in writ as to when , why , and where it will be and I have given the user / owner the go ahead . This is why I purchased 65 acres and built in the center at quite a substantial price that I earned by the sweat of my own brow . After reading the comments here I would first dawn a ski mask and I would drop that sucker out of the sky .
        I do not live in a city or residential area , my nearest neighbor being nearly 2 miles away from me and I would not discharge a firearm or shoot in the air if I did . There is no reason to be flying over my farmhouse and there is nothing nefarious ever to see . IT IS PRINCIPLE .
        I routinely have police flying at tree top levels in August thru September looking for pot and it really pisses me off . I don’t grow pot on my property , I don’t break the law at all . I do not like being spied on when I am not doing anything wrong . If the police start using unmanned craft to look for pot , I’ll shoot those down too . The only reason the helicopters get a pass is because they have people in them and up until today and hopefully until the day I die I will not have to kill another person .
        I will and do take my tractor and fill in wet spots in my fields and along my creek and just because a cattail grows up in these spots they are not wet lands unless I deem them so .
        Drones represent unconstitutional invasion of privacy and will be met with constitutional resistance .

      • No that is not how we handle things in a civilized society. If a drone is actually on your property you document it and call the authority to deal with it. There is a difference between privacy and paranoia.

        The minute you start playing with guns there is always the chance of real confrontation and you know what people with toy planes tend to have some wicked guns too. I get that they should keep there drones out of other peoples property but lets be for real unless you own a massive ranch in the middle of nowhere. Anyone who climbs a tree can watch you all day long. A drone is about the same. If they are high enough your asking for trouble by firing into the air and wondering why people in uniform are knocking on you door.

        The world for today children is CIVILITY.

        • …………….and then I would swiftly bury it six feet under my feed ring .
          How old are you anyway , Jessie ?
          “Let’s just say , I fought with the South “.
          I hate it when they ain’t been shaved .

        • Didn’t you ever sit on the back porch and shoot black birds , crows , and even chicken hawks out of the sky with your 22 when you were a kid ?
          Wow man that was fun , and then take a dip in the fishin pond after to cool off .
          Where yuall from anyhow . Corse , I don’t think I ever did get me one , but I seen my uncle do it more than once .

    • So, if you decide to shoot down an aerial survey mapping plane or helicopter is that justified?

      In most places there are zoning laws that dictate the maximum height, above ground, you can build. You don’t own the airspace above that number. There sure are some nuts out there shooting willy nilly into the air at toys they think are spying on them. It won’t be long until some half lit bubba start jamming off 30 rounds, into the air, from his WASR and justifies that behavior as protecting his privacy.

      • I am not sure where you got your information, but it is incorrect. You own the area above, and below the ground you walk on.

        • My understanding is that private property ends a few feet above the highest structure, and a few feet beneath the surface of the ground. (Mineral rights dictate subsurface ownership and are not usually included in residential situations.) And if aerial rights extended into infinity then we’d have constant trespassing in the form of aerial traffic, ie: jets and helicopters at cruising or landing altitudes.

          It seems obvious that these drone issues will be addressed by the passage of future laws, though I would bet it is the civilians that will be restricted, not the government. And shooting them down will never be a legal response (no matter how warranted).

        • Not generally true. Do you own the water or mineral rights under your house and yard? Probably not. Same with the air overhead. Public utilities like power or cable can cross over your property, and you have no say in it, just as the power company owns the power lines up to the demarcation point where the service enters your house.

        • Once again, the real answer is that it varies from state to state–except for the sky part, where the Feds get a say in the matter I expect. I’m told that in Colorado, the property “owner” only actually owns the surface estate; in Texas, you own the surface, the water (with the exception that the state gets to control “navigable” waterways), and the subsurface, theoretically down to the earth’s core. At any rate, the landowner does indeed own the mineral rights if no specific provision was made otherwise when he acquired the land.

        • As mute said above, “Cuius est solum, eius est usque ad coelum et ad inferos.” Just because they pass a law saying above your property is airspace and below it belongs to Halliburton, doesn’t make it so. Just like how they can pass a NY Safe Act, but we all know it’s still unconstitutional, immoral, and just plain wrong.

      • Conversation is about RAV’s/Drones over one’s property in a intrusive/harassing manner. No one is advocating shooting at aircraft performing lawful activities. Your hyperbole reminds me of the standard knee-jerk nonsense heard coming from the anti-gun types.

      • Presumably a survey helicopter or aircraft is not over your house obviously filming your teenage daughter while she is lying out in her bathing suit. Those four pieces of shit are lucky the homeowner hasn’t pressed charges for stalking his under age daughter.

        • Tex300blk, I hardly believe someone would have to buy a $2-3,000 quad copter to get a picture of his little princess in a bathing suit. I’ll bet she has them on her FB already… BUT I will agree we have the right to privacy in out own back yard. I’ve been flying RC aircraft since I was 16 and have had digital cameras on them for 12+ years, never had the first complaint in fact I had a little business going for awhile, people liked pictures of their houses and property from the air during fall, spring and right after a snow. I don’t have a drone yet, but I’d love to have one….. and I have 2 daughters and a son, almost grown now so I can “relate”

      • FAA regs prohibit aircraft from flying under 500′ (except upon take-off and landing), drones above 500′. If it were a commercial drone, they provide notice.

        • Aircraft I think it’s 1000 feet. Model aircraft are limited to 400 feet within a mile of an airport.

          I’ve been flying fixed-wing RC aircraft for many years. One thing I have noticed, time after time, on flying fields and on the many web sites dedicated to the hobby, is that helicopter fliers, and by extension these “drone” fliers, are the most arrogant, immature jerks imaginable. (Seems to hold for full-size, too, but that’s another story.) In the past the helicopter guys at least had to master some skills, but all these new computerized stability systems, vertical takeoff RPVs can be and are operated by any idiot with the scratch to buy one, no skills needed. They seem to have become a vehicle for young men to vent aggression against society in general and their neighbors in particular. Witness the goons who approached that property owner after he did his civic duty.

    • Every situation is different, you could walk over and talk to the guy in the car. If you don’t know who is flying the drone who do you speak with? It is important to know your neighbors, at least a little bit. My guess is most cops would show up in 20 minutes and shrug their shoulders, it is a grey area for sure.

      • The bigger difference is that the car is certainly not on your property; the drone at least arguably is.

    • If someone had a camera on the end of a cherry picker positioned over my sun bathing 16 ueqr old, yeah I would shoot the camera.

    • That’s a bad analogy. It would be more accurate they climbed into a tree on your property with a camera or binoculars. Where I grew up that would at best would earn you some rock salt buckshot.

      As a retired helicopter pilot, let me tell you hell would rain down on me if I started hovering low over someones property with a recording device, even if I didn’t manage to damage their property with rotorwash or make a ton of ruckus. The problem we’re facing now is that the established aviation laws are being ignored/bypassed because the pilot doesn’t ride in the platform. Anonymity of the device is an issue, which will probably cause electronic warfare to be the next battlefront.

      • +1

        rock salt buckshot on the drone. Perfect. Not deadly force.

        Beanbag rounds work too. Less than lethal answer to the privacy problem.

        You win the internet today.

        • Incorrect. Anytime and I do mean anytime you discharge a firearm it is lethal force. The projectile does not matter.

        • Net throwing devices (Old school anti air defenses) should be effective, and minimize risk of collateral. Anti drone, “interceptors” would be really cool (Flying close to base by definition, they could be built sturdier, since they need less battery weight..). And could give kids something more meaningful to do than play videogames.

    • A car parked across (or on) the street is not located on your property, it is located on public property. A drone hovering in your back yard is on private property. Only airspace above 500 feet is considered public domain. So far the FAA has weighed in advising that drones only operate from ground level to 400 feet, but they have no guidance (or authority) for dictating flying over private property that is not your own and without permission. Other comments are likening drone flying to helicopters or survey flights, but these are false comparisons as they all operate above 500 feet.

      The issue here is intent. “Good faith” transiting of private property should be fine, otherwise a simple honest mistake would justify destroying property, which is not supported by current law. For example, a car parking on your property for a party next door (while annoying) would not justify you shooting the car. If, however, they refuse to leave after informing the owner that they are trespassing, you would be within your rights to have the car towed. Similarly, loitering at very low altitude (i.e. within range of birdshot) above what is clearly someone’s yard demonstrates intent to commit a trespass. The property is clearly not theirs, they have invaded upon the privacy of another causing an injury to the privacy rights of that individual, and a reasonable person would conclude that they had no lawful reason for being there. This meets the criteria for a trespass. In the case of a drone, you cannot feasibly inform the operator of a trespass and insist that they leave. Even if you did, it is clear that the operator has already demonstrated intent by the extended presence of the drone in a clearly private area. At that point you should be well within your rights to remove the drone by any feasible means, as long as the method does not endanger other’s safeter.

      • Which discharging a weapon within many urban areas is not justifiable. Protection of personal safety is the only appropriate time to discharge. Want to fire a these a harassing drone, get yourself a paintball gun with a 250rd hopper.

    • @Roy H
      Great sentiment except you forget not everyone lives in a urban area. Second, as far as I’m concerned a person has a right to defend his/her property, self and family if said RAV/drone is directly over their property and acting as a nuisance. In todays age you DO NOT know who is operating that drone or WHY. Sexual predators, burglars, etc…

      Police are a great resource but remember they are reactive in nature, not proactive.

    • Many years ago when I was taking a paralegal course we discussed the issue of privacy on your own property. I am not a lawyer, nor even a practicing paralegal, but as I recall the lesson, in summary:

      You have a right to privacy on your own property so long as what you are doing is not within easy view of persons not on your property. If you are in your home but have neglected to draw the curtains or blinds a policeman or anyone with a camera can legally view any activity since you have not attempted to block that view. Same for fences or awnings outside. It is a violation of your privacy to look over the fence, but a view from another structure, or helicopter/airplane is not a violation if you have not made the effort to conceal yourself (yourselves).

      This same rules apparently applies to whatever you do in a public place where anyone can see you and/or take photographs.

      That said – the case we discussed was about a nosy neighbor that had mounted a video camera on their eaves to look into the backyard of their neighbor where their daughter apparently enjoyed the weather and their pool in an enticing manner. To have shot at the offending camera would have been seriously problematic, legally. The homeowner, however, bought a laser pointer, targeted the camera, and easily burned out its receptors. Problem solved. BTW – DO NOT point any laser device at a manned aircraft! You WILL be in contact with law enforcement if that happens.

    • The difference is that a car parked across the street is NOT on/over your property and is limited by walls/visual range. A drone (armed with a camera) IS ABOVE your property and is NOT limited by walls.

      Why does ANYONE other than cops have a reason to be looking in your backyard, your houses, etc.

      Based on your logic, just call the cops if someone is wandering around your back yard and don’t do anything until the cops get there.

      And when the cops get there and say “We’ll take a report, but we don’t know who they were…”
      Mission Accomplished!

      ANd even if the cops catch a drone – do you think the owners are going to claim it if they were up to no good?

      The cops should have kept the memory to see what the perps were up to.

    • Problem is that the courts have rule up to the SCOTUS that we do not own the airspace over our property and you do not have 4th amendment protections. What if it is not a drone but a new or police helicopter next time, would you be o quick to shoot at it. People who are shooting at the drones are as big of idiots as the one flying them. In all likelihood the FAA will be force to restrict the use of drones by private citizens as to where they can fly.

    • Roy, the car across the street with a person in it “watching you” is not on your property. They are on “public” property, so they are not breaking any laws.

      A person filming your property with a drone while within your property lines with that drone is invading your privacy. That’s trespassing.
      What if they were filming your 15yr old daughter while she was being a privacy fence, laying out and tanning? Wouldn’t care for that a whole lot would you?

    • It wasn’t just flying over it was hovering 10-12 feet over his sunbathing daughters . The value of the drone should not be a determing factor.the fact that some creepy guys were looking at young girls should be

    • You own the rights to the airspace above your land. Utilities, airlines, etc can use the space for public good. The drone was therefore “on” your land and can be dealt with accordingly. If the daughter was under 18 and the men were filming her you have a much bigger issue here. Peeping laws, etc.

    • Absolutely not. The only time that lethal force should be used is when you or your family is in direct and imminent danger of bodily harm. Mr. Meredith committed 2 felonies with his actions. Unless the drone was threatening with physical harm the appropriate action is to call the police. Being a vigilante is heavily frowned upon in the U.S. legal system.

      • What in the h__l? You talk like this thing is human! A drone has no “rights”. You don’t have to wait until your family is in “imminent danger”. Good grief!

        This whole conversation is crazy. All I have to say is if some cuckoo bird decides to fly a $2,000 drone over my yard to snap pictures of my wife, he had better have it insured because he will find the bits and pieces of it in the dumpster.

    • Not a good analogy. If there were an unoccupied car sitting across the street filming me and mine, I wouldn’t need a shotgun to disable it. I’d just take my 5lb sledge and smash it.

      When the drone is in the air, though, it takes a shotgun to reach it.


    • I think the more accurate example would be: “would you shoot at a car that was parked IN YOUR DRIVEWAY”? I think this would apply – simply put, if a camera-equipped drone were hovering over my house, I would think that it would give me a little more leeway in finding ballistic solutions to the annoyance. However, to shoot at a drone that was hovering NEAR my house would be a dicier proposition since one would not be certain that the drone was violating my privacy and not someone else’s.
      To answer the question raised by the article however, I would shoot if the offending peeping tom were over my property and were low enough that the majority of my birdshot would be absorbed by the drone. But other than that, it would be a no-shoot case for me.

    • Of course not. But that is not what happened. He was flying in the guy’s back yard! If the knucklehead was driving his car and doing doughnuts in the guys back yard he could have shot the car. What kind of crazy argument is this?

      We have had to stop fighting fires over here in California because of these stupid, stupid people with drones. I have had about enough of them.

      • Wtf is wrong with you? Someone doing donuts in your yard justifies deadly force? Be sure to give us a heads up if you ever use your firearm like this, some of us would like to attend your sentencing….

      • +1. Or endangering aircraft as happened a few days ago at JFK.

        Although I dislike regulation, it can become necessary when common sense and courtesy is missing. While something like tail numbers is an attractive idea, their small size effectively precludes recognition at a distance.

        Seems like a broadcast beacon requirement like those on aircraft might be worth considering.

        Ready identification coupled with tort law that would allow one to litigate in small claims court (up to $10,000 in California) might be a start.

  2. Depends. If a guy is just flying a drone in his yard, but it’s pointing torwards your house, it’s a grey area, but if someone flies a drone around your house for a while like their trying to scope outthe place, all bets are off.

  3. If its hovering 10 feet off the ground on my property and pointing at my window, I’m taking it down. Its trespassing.

    • That would actually be a good test: Would it be OK to shoot it down if it was flying 10 feet above Obama’s daughters?

    • That’s probably a different scenario than a residential neighborhood. I would think LEO would drag their feet at laying blame.

  4. Here in San Jose, CA., discharging *any* firearm in the backyard (that includes BB and air-guns) not used during a self defense situation is a big NO-NO. So, what could be done should a camera-equipped multi-rotor starts buzzin’ about my property?
    Take the laser doohicky used to sight-in a scope/rifle and place that little dot of intense light energy on the camera lens. Chances are very good that it will, let’s say, put the camera “out-of-commission”.

    • I like the laser idea.
      Time to go 1.21 jigawatts on the flying trespassers.

      Rule#4 applies: Know whats behind the target!!

        • Astronomers have been shooting ultra-powerful lasers into space for years, presumably to start an intergalactic war or to entertain alien cats.

    • @dlj95118
      “So, what could be done should a camera-equipped multi-rotor starts buzzin’ about my property?”

      A paintball gun if that is allowed for you from the state.

  5. The 14th Amendment only protects citizens from government action.

    A citizen’s right to shoot down a drone over their property would be controlled by state trespassing, privacy, and gun laws.

  6. If you search the Web you can find a little device that interrupts the signal to the drone, as it controls the action of an RC car; so no projectile contact with the drone is necessary. Or so the ad for the device seems to indicate.

    • +1. A much more elegant solution, IMO.

      A couple of years ago, one of the drone makers (Parrot, I think) sponsored a drone v. drone competition, in which you armed (nonlethal stuff only) and fought your drone against another. People came up with all sorts of clever anti-drone stuff, but the clear winner was a guy who simply figured out how to hack the control frequency of the opposing drones. Usually, he’d just shut them off or scramble the controls, but sometimes was able to take control of an opposing drone and fly it into a tree, the ground, etc.

    • You beat me to it. Electronic warfare is the safe solution to this problem. Drone control frequencies are well known. A simple noise jammer will interrupt the signal and the loss of control can result in the drone’s destruction.

      • “8.
        What are the penalties for using a jammer? Can I go to prison?
        Yes. The unlawful use of a jammer is a criminal offense and can result in various sanctions, including a jail sentence. More specifically, the unlawful marketing, sale, or operation of cell phone, GPS, or other signal jammers in the U.S. can result in:

        significant fines (we call them “monetary forfeitures”) – up to $16,000 for each violation or each day of a continuing violation, and as high as $112,500 for any single act;

        government seizure of the illegal equipment; and

        criminal penalties including imprisonment.
        See 47 U.S.C. §§ 401, 501, 503, 510; 47 C.F.R. § 1.80(b)(3).
        The FCC has taken action against various individuals and business entities for unlawfully operating and marketing jammers. You can find more information on jammer enforcement at”

        In most locations, you’re better off with keeping it in the local system and just shooting the damned thing. Now, if you could just lock onto the frequency with your own, stronger, remote control, you’d be able to argue that you weren’t knowingly interfering with the signal, but you’d be extra screwed if they could demonstrate otherwise.

        • Most of the “Drones” RC X-copters or planes use 2Ghz or 5Ghz remotes. Meaning if you spend some time Googling you will find how ridiculously easy it is to interfere with the control signal making most “drones” automatically fly back to owners GPS home point. Also most use WiFi for the video link…..Which means all you have to do is Google WiFi network jammer and disassociate program. It’s basically download a program…find wifi network…and click send disconnect packets. All while in the comfort of your home. Once that thing drops from the sky grab it and disconnect all power and look for any type of small GPS tracker with a cellular SIM card. Knock, Knock….have you seen a flying quadcopter around sir. I lost control and video around your house……. I saw a flying saucer thing but it went flying off in X direction. If it’s below 400 feet on my properties airspace that bitch is mine!

        • +1. Good advice. Technically I believe a Supreme Court decision put the height at 500′ – not 400. Newer ones hover if they incur signal loss through conventional jammers. They gradually loose altitude as the battery drains. Seizing control can be more effective. Such as crashing it onto PD HQ’s roof.

      • That’s only temporary. Until more autonomy is being built in to drones. Also tough to do with expensive, paid for with tax money, ones.

    • That’ll work on low-end drones, but many of the better-equipped ones will have a fail-safe mechanism that can be programmed to return home or do some other pre-programmed maneuver when the control signal is lost.

      • Yup, most over $500 have GPS and the ability to climb to altitude and return home if the signal is lost.

        Also, jamming is not as easy now, in the old days of RC, simply turning on a transmitter on the same “channel” was enough to ruin someone’s day, today they operate on the 2.4ghz range and use frequency hopping, spread spectrum technology. If the tx/rx detects interference, it just changes to another frequency.

    • That sounds nice and all but who has a jammer sitting by their back door at the ready? Not me, but I do have a Rem 870 supermag and some #6 shot.

      Screw the cocksuckers flying the drone over someone else’s property. Could it have been an honest mistake? Sure, turns out it was an expensive one. They shoulda learned how to use it better before it wandered into the path of of my birdshot.

  7. borkborkbork says “…Airplanes get a pass because of public good”

    Followed by JohnnyIShootStuff saying… “So, if you decide to shoot down an aerial survey mapping plane or helicopter is that justified?”

    Airplanes ‘get a pass’ because there are rules in most inhabited areas about how low you can fly. And that goes for aerial survey equipment and helicopters.

    The issue, to me at least, is less the privacy and more the shooting into the air. What goes up must come down…. and while birdshot isn’t going to do much harm on the way down, larger shot and bullets can and will.

    The privacy issue is important and one that needs to go through the legislative process and soon.

    The stray bullets issue is even more important and even more immediate. Isn’t there some sort of rule about knowing your target and what’s beyond it?

    • It just seems to me that any argument *allowing* drones to fly at extremely low levels over private property (without permission) is a “neener neener” second-grade defense to trespassing. “I didn’t touch the ground, so therefore, I can trespass with impunity” . While there might be a danger to allowing firearms takedown of automated tresspassers, it’s pretty simple to change the necessary laws to allow it – #7 birdshot, rubber-ball shot, etc. Some drones are big enough to injure you when they fall, and no one has a “right” to my airspace, except the government, with strict limitations.

      FWIW, I’m in favor of the same laws for choppers, because they often abuse the law in some areas. If I can damage your “bird” with birdshot, you’re too freaking low.

  8. The .gov doesn’t like it when they get drones on their property, I don’t like it when drones are on my property. If someone would like to see my land then they are to be denied face to face like the good ol’ days. If they get smart and use a little drone then I will have no objections to dispatching the little guy. However I would feel a little bad for the drone only because his owner was an asshole and got him shot.

    • Good point about how the government likely would react to a drone over restricted airspace or government facilities. As for the public, what can you do if the drone enters your building? What if you think the drone is armed? Can you shoot it down then? Can you use a really big flyswatter, a fish net, or perhaps practice ammo? Maybe there is a market for boutique anti-drone ammo. Signal jammers might be a good idea, although your neighbors may begin complaining about their TV reception. I wonder what a Taser would do, or a paintball gun, even a water cannon. But what happens when the current crop of visibly large and fairly noisy drones are replaced by the next wave of much smaller and quieter ones, perhaps smaller than a dragonfly? Privacy concerns are only the tip of the iceberg. Between Big Bother, criminals, creeps, and nosy neighbors, it is becoming a crowed brave new world of frightful possibilities.

  9. Any word on a legal defense fund for this guy? Drone on my property with a camera = Man on my property with a camera, if I had a kid out sunbathing.

  10. Hey, I don’t know about you, but I’ve seen videos of a drone firing a handgun. If a drone wandered onto my property and was hovering over my loved ones, it might look an awful lot like it was carrying a handgun as a payload… I know of no better way to deal with that threat than some birdshot

  11. this is only my personal opinion of the matter. but if it’s legal for you to shoot Firearms on your property and you have a reoccurring drone problem over your private property and it’s not some teenage kid trying to get a look at your old lady in her bathing suit then by all means shoot that sumbitch out of the sky.

  12. Heads up, the owner of the drone now claims to have shown the flight path. He claims to have been shot down, from 272 feet in the air, with birdshot….

    • So, assuming it was *directly* overhead, we’re talking 90 yards, minimum? Seems like skeet are at 40-50 yards, we’re beginning to trip the bs detectors..

      • “So, assuming it was *directly* overhead, we’re talking 90 yards, minimum? Seems like skeet are at 40-50 yards, we’re beginning to trip the bs detectors..”

        Add to that the fact that the shot is going up against gravity so what would have been “bullet drop” is now about 100% deceleration (in addition to the rapid deceleration of bird shot due to aero drag)

  13. The original news story states the daughter waved the drone off and it came back a short time later. So the owner of the drone and his friends crossed over the line into voyeur and stalker territory. Scummy behavior on their part. Sympathy for the daughter and father.

  14. … If you neen an excusr, then sure.

    If Abortion (butcher a live baby) rights are predicated on a woman’s right to privacy. You can kill a drone, kill a droid, kill a clone, kill a few evil Jedi, an Emporer, and go after the rest of the Empire, for PEACE AND QUIET. For privacy you can hunt whoever’s flying it.

    • The real question is, what would you do if the drone was in-orbit? Or if China was using it to drop rocks on your house?

      • The proper thing to do, would be to stop supporting gun laws too restrictive to prevent you from procuring effective defenses against objects in orbit dropping rocks on you.

  15. We already have laws for this, we should enforce those. Both FAA laws and privacy laws. Shooting at a low flying drone is irresponsible gun owner of the day material.

    You wouldn’t shoot at a dude in a tree with a camera for most of the same reasons.

    Or is it because guns the only time we mention enforcing existing laws?

  16. ” The Meredith’s daughter was laying out by their backyard pool when a video-equipped drone appeared over his property and hovered.”

    Objection your Honor. Assumes facts not in evidence.

    If you’re going to write about the news, you’ll have to learn to add in words like ‘alleged’. But in your case, what I quoted above isn’t even a decent paraphrase of what Meredith is supposed to have claimed, which is that he saw it hovering very low over the neighbor’s property, grabbed his 12ga, and was waiting to blast it when it crossed his property line.

  17. Does Defending the Right to Privacy Justify Shooting Down a Drone?

    It is yet to be determined what actually happened in this situation.

    And how much Air Space over my house is mine.

    But the answer to this question, I say a person emphatically has the right to shoot down a drone to protect their Right to Privacy.

    HOWEVER, it has to be the APPROPRIATE WEAPON.
    You can’t use a weapon that would endanger other people or their property.
    You should not be able to use a CANNON.
    A B-B gun would not work.
    I don’t think the best Anti-Drone weapon has been created yet.
    A Net-gun?

    Ah, yes. An Opportunity for Creative Entrepreneurs to make a lot of money.
    I would buy an Anti-Drone gun.


    Also, if you fly a Peeping-Tom Drone over my daughter while she is un bathing in my private backyard, and I may come looking for you.

    • Using your own drone, get a continuous video of the drone stalking and peeping your daughter then following the peeper drone back with your drone getting identifying video of the peepers. If they are on foot, follow them home and record the address and street sign. If they get into a car, record the license plate, color, make, and model. Post a copy of video to the web and to any popular local facebook pages and similar. Email a copy to local cops. Make their lives miserable by ripping away their anonymity so that all the people who know them can see what they were up to. Good for the goose, good for the gander.

      • Very good ideas guys.
        What about a a DRONE THAT DROPS A PARACHUTE that envelopes the other drone or gets caught in
        the propellers?

        A Drone that shoots the other drone WITH SPRAY PAINT.

        Hey didn’t Popell or Ronco make some kind gun that shot out fishing line?

        Remember the Ronco Pocket Fisherman?
        Can you combine a Pellet Gun with some High Tension Fishing line?
        Such a Fishing Rig with a bunch of Trebble Hooks could make great Grappling Hooks.

        A Drone with a laser that fries their camera.
        Problem with the aiming.

        RF weapons to jam the drones could be problematic with the FCC.

        Think outside the Box of Guns, guys.

        There could be millions of ways.
        And this could be serious money for you.

        I am impressed and in awe of the creativity of men and women.

        • A PELLET GUN or a CROSS BOW that shoots a WOODEN BOLT with a PARACHUTE with a bunch of TREBLE HOOKS.
          Come guys.
          Put on the thinking caps.
          Am I the only one doing ALL the thinking?

  18. There’s going to be some very tough legal questions asked in the near future about drones, privacy, interfering with public safety, etc.

    One situation we’re seeing increasingly in wildland fire fighting is the appearance of drones over wildland fires. When drones are spotted, the air attack crews are told to stand down, which means that the fire is going to get larger or remain uncontained as a result. Fire fighting air attack works low to the ground, in very hazardous conditions that are being made worse by the appearance of drones in the flight space.

    • There was a piece about this on the local news last night. I said then, and will write here, that firefighters should be REQUIRED to shoot down drones. The situation is no different than a fire crew arriving at a house fire finding the fire hydrant blocked by a car: unless things have changed, the fire crew is authorized to do whatever they judge necessary to get to that hydrant, whether towing a car, rolling it out of the way, etc. But since there’s no way to remove a drone except to, well, remove it, firefighting crews should have someone along capable of shooting drones out of the way and be required to do so.

      • Good bet that within 100ft an 1-1/2″ will knock down anything up to 25-50lb. If not sufficient, can use the monitor on top of the truck.

  19. It probably should, but so long as the FAA defines it as an aircraft, it’s troublesome to say the least.

    We need new rules for unmanned aircraft under a certain weight.

  20. For now, I’d say, as long as your not putting someone in danger, yes. I like the idea of rocksalt rounds mention above. What about getting some sort of jammer that will cut off communication with the remote?

  21. I believe property owners have the right to shoot down drones if the shooting does not cause unreasonable risk to bystanders. Since I live in CA, the .gov doesn’t put a whole lot of stock in my privacy rights.

    I do have a 300 mW 532 nm green laser that would probably smoke a video cam in short order. There’s also a good old-fashioned garden hose, fishing pole, water balloons, and possibly paintball guns. It could certainly help the cause to video yourself warning the drone to leave before taking it down. Or defending your property with your own drone.

  22. For a website championing gun rights, I’m shocked how few of the commentators seem to understand how rights work. “Does Defending the Right to Privacy Justify Shooting Down a Drone?” Yes. Period. Defending any and all rights REQUIRES violence. As a civilized society, we try to outsource that violence to our duly appointed representatives called Law Enforcement Officers, but we all know that only applies when the police response is sufficient.

    Mr. Leghorn points out that the right to privacy was discovered in the 14th Amendment. Even when the Supreme Court gets it right, they get it wrong. The right to privacy isn’t in the 14th Amendment. The right to privacy is in the 9th Amendment. Always has been, always will be.

    Most of the discussion in these comments doesn’t seem to address the question in the headline, but rather a different one: was the RC toy on his property? Where does one’s property end in three-dimensional space? That’s a tricky question to answer, but I can tell you all the answers that are wrong:

    1) The FAA defines what constitutes your property, and what is considered airspace. False. The FAA is unconstitutional. The words “regulate airspace” do not appear in the United States Constitution. So anything the Federal government says about property lines is null and void.

    2) Zoning laws define what constitutes your property. False. What constitutes my property is decided between myself and the seller. Especially if the property pre-existed the laws, or even the town that passed those laws. Some have commented above that the state and local governments (as the federal government has no authority) can regulate the air above your property and the ground below, so as to run utility lines and such. Unfortunately, I own my property. Not the town. Rights and property are not collectively owned to be doled out as the government(s) see fit. Being a group of gun owners, I would think y’all would know that already. The local town council doesn’t get to decide whether Comcast can dig under my front yard or not. Even if they pass a referendum where 99.999% of the town approves digging under my yard, it does not justify doing so. My property is my property, and it is not subject to majority approval.

  23. Flying over ones house is one thing, hovering is another, to this day I cannot stand the sound of Helicopters flying over head.
    This is a clear violation of privacy! filming some one with out their permission is illegal unless in the public domain! how better to case an area than too film it! The clowns that owned this should be prosecuted under the FAA laws of flying a model Aircraft in a congested area without line of sight control and a kill switch so it lands when out of range! nor having Insurance! hope the shotgun wielder sues owners of machine for breach of peace, Invasion of Privacy, harassment, trespassing, and any miscellaneous nuisance law that will apply, also recoup the court costs and cost of shotgun shell!

  24. Oh and let me add: IT IS NOT A EXPLETIVE DELETED DRONE!!!!!!!

    This is a drone:
    This is a quadcopter:
    This is a remote-controlled aircraft:


    I would gladly read a million news articles about .9MM handguns if reporters would just stop referring to toys as “drones.”


    • The word of the day is pedantic.

      What is a vertical take-off unmanned remote control aerial spying platform if it has one, two, three, five, six or more propellers/roters (other than a model/toy airplane/helicopter).

      A DRONE.

      • A drone is a military aircraft. That’s how it entered the lexicon, and that’s how it should stay. Remote-controlled toy aircraft have existed long before unmanned aerial vehicles have been used on the battlefield. Once the military started using drones, every reporter started calling every RC toy a drone. But conflating two entirely different things to make them sound scary is the media’s bread-and-butter (assault weapons, anyone?)

        Also, you said “(other than a model/toy airplane/helicopter).” That’s the point. These *are* toys.

  25. Real Estate is typically explained as owned down to the center of the earth and up into the heavens. Rarely would you own mineral rights, etc. We all know the air gets controlled by FAA. Depending on where you live, discharging a firearm into air may not win you much acceptance in the legal community. So what do you do? Your privacy is being breached, you may be being observed for theft, or worse. It depends, and you need to know the rules where you live. Birdshot, yes, long travel no. If I thought I could get away with it I’d take it down, but only if flying low, e.g. is buzzing me. The expense of a drone is of no concern of mine. Anyone who owns a drone and flies in the manner we are discussing herein knows what they are doing. There are rules with FAA about flying a plane low over many areas. If you are having a problem I might buy a cheap intercept drone and crash into the other one. Peeping Tom’s, voyeurism isn’t legal and trespass can be legally enforced.

      • Show you a state where the land owner does not own their minerals . ??? Where are your marbles ?
        Most states in coal country ; WV. , Penn. , Kentucky , Tenn. , N.C. , Virginia , and Ohio had all their property owners sell their minerals 100 years ago for $100 dollar bills .
        Google the song ‘ Harlan Alive ‘ , by Patty Loveless .
        I am one of the lucky 10% of land owners in WV that own the mineral rights on my property , most were purchased by John Rockefeller when no one believed you could drill below 10,000 feet . People laughed at old John when he bought em . Coal barons bought the mountains up long before that .
        Who do you suppose is going to get most of the revenue from the shale fracking ? WV farmers .
        Do you think you are buying mineral rights when you buy a house in the burbs ?

  26. As an add on to my comment above, I think this event should ev filed under “always call the cops first”, make it very clear that the drone is bothering your underage daughter wearing a bathing suit in the back yard. Then call the police again when the shitstains show up at your house looking to rumble. This guy’s macho attitude is the only thing that might keep this from being a complete slam dunk.

    • Generally speaking, RF signal jammers aren’t legal. So your market would probably have to be a grey or black one…

  27. Buy your own drone, attach a fishing net and go aerial fishing. Collect the offending drone, take it to your house and check the SD card, if any. When the owner comes, claim you though it was a rogue drone and you just collected it for them and give it back. (Yeah, it’s a joke.)

  28. One small quibble: As I understand it, the location of that Roe-based “right to privacy” was not, in fact, fixed in the 14th Amendment or any other specific location in the text of the Constitution. In writing the opinion, Justice Blackmun essentially said, “Some folks think it is here, we think it is there, but it doesn’t matter, because wherever it is it covers the right to get an abortion.” That noted legal scholar Joe Biden did manage to locate it in Article II of the Constitution, which less educated people read as dealing with Presidential succession. But alas, the Supremes evidently didn’t have Joe to guide them at the time.

    • It’s “implied” in the Fourth Amendment, but clearly found in the Ninth. Of course none of this matters, as the 9th Amendment is just a backup redundancy for the redundancy that is the rest of the Bill of Rights.

      • It’s not in there. And it certainly is not in there and marked out as superior to other, actually enumerated rights, such as the right to freedom of assembly and freedom of expression as set forth in the First Amendment. Except the Supremes say that it is, so it is.

        • Just to be clear, I was talking about the “right to privacy,” not abortion. Basically, Article I says what Congress can do. But just to be extra clear, Amendments 1-8 spell out things that they definitely *can’t* do. Amendments 9 & 10 say that 1-8 is not an exhaustive list. Of course, James Madison didn’t think any of this was necessary, since Article I *is* an exhaustive list. So here’s how it’s supposed to work: the right to privacy is clearly spelled out in the 9th Amendment. But it doesn’t matter, because “ban abortion” is not listed under Article I. The 10th Amendment makes it crystal clear that means that abortion is a matter left to the states. As I replied elsewhere, “Even when the Supreme Court gets it right, they get it wrong. The right to privacy isn’t in the 14th Amendment. The right to privacy is in the 9th Amendment. Always has been, always will be.”

  29. Property rights would seem to resolve this issue just fine.

    Is the done on your property? It is trespassing, and fair game to state statutes regarding justifiable force to resolve a trespass.

    Is the drone not on your property? Then it’s not trespassing.

    Meaningless “privacy” rights are irrelevant.

    • Chip,

      Problem is we do not own the air space above our property, much like most people do not own the mineral rights. Look at your deed paperwork sometime!

  30. It’s simple. Build a jammer….. problem solved. If had the know-how I’d build em’ and sell a shit load of em I bet. The “sky is falling” crowd would beat down my door to get one. – if one of you fellas build one and make a mint off it be a stand-up guy and send me a barrett semi-auto .50 – Dang black helicopters!

  31. Legally, you can take photographs and video from anywhere you can legally be. This is protected as freedom of the press under the first amendment (before you ask, everyone is considered the press).

    The question is whether these drones are legally allowed in the airspace over someone’s property, whether the drone pilot has to be asked to remove the drone before it’s considered trespassing (or something similar), and why people care so much.

    I get seeing over a fence. But if someone was using a telephoto lens and a mirror, it would be 100% legal, as long as they were standing somewhere they were allowed to be.

  32. There’s are a couple of odd areas of law that could given an angle on this, however strangely. One is impedance of view, for example if a homeowner’s property has a valuation that includes an aesthetic view as significant to the value and someone builds an obstruction into that view, the homeowner in many cases can sue to block the construction or for damages to the value of his property. This isn’t to say that a drone is blocking someone’s view, but that there are considerations where it is legitimate to stop someone from doing something off your property that impacts your property in a non-physical way.

    Personally, I’d use the test from the time of the Founding for control of the seas: however far you could shoot, you owned the waters off your coast. Thus, however far a weapon can shoot projectiles (that don’t pose a risk of harm to neighbors) would determine how low a ‘drone’ can come over private property.

    But for this case, all he should have said is that he thought his daughter was in danger and acted to stop the threat — period.

  33. All of this tough guy talk about what they would do….

    Most upper end RC drones are not only capable of following GPS/gloss way points but have 3 axis gyro stabilized camera gimbals with actual optical zoom. They/I could observe you well out of reach if desired, and could do so with fantastic picture quality at 30+mph. Only cost keeps most people away from those.

    • There’s the rub: the technology is out of the bag and isn’t going back in. The trick is to somehow train people to actually respect other people’s privacy, not just give it lip service. It should be a natural reaction to NOT be a peeping Tom (Dick, Harry, Margaret, Hazel, or Lisa), at least in a free country.

      I envision this scenario, in a place where (as they do) law enforcement insists that if a teenager breaks in through my bathroom window while I’m in the shower scrubbing myself and said teen observes me, I just became a sex offender: a happily married couple on their own property with a privacy fence and vegetation screen decide to have sex in the sun on in the back yard. Some pervert with a flying spy toy films them and posts it on the internet. The next thing, the cops are breaking down the door to arrest the couple for making internet porn without having done all the required paperwork.

  34. One correction, utilities can not cross your property without there being a right of way. If you know that said utility has cross your property without a right of way please contact you favorite lawyer. He needs the money.

    What is the FAA or any government agency waiting on for some pedophile to video tape some young girl or boy and post it on their perverted website or video library. we have to register our boats, cars, trucks, ATV, snowmobiles, why not the drones. that way if a drone is hovering over someones property for an extended period of time then the registrations number can be recorded and filed with the police. Of course a video of the video recording drone will help to establish the time and registration number hovering over your property.

    hey politician you’re missing some registration money here.

    • What other occasionally-mis-used, mostly-responsibly-used, somewhat controversial piece of technology shall we be forced to register next?

      • Ummm… your IP and MAC addresses for every gadget you own? And those in your car too? Geo tracking? Oh wait – already done. It’s just that most don’t realize it.

  35. It’s time for commonsense drone suppression. Shotgun only no shot large the OOO. Can not fire at an elevation of less than 30degrees.

  36. Wouldn’t a high-lumen flashlight or bright laser pointer be enough to disable it without the risks and legal stickiness of using a firearm?

  37. I’m on the side of pops protecting his partially clothed baby girl-but I sure couldn’t get away with this in my Chicago suburb. I think when these idiot drone owners crash a jet or cause dead folks on a burning highway we may get some action against droners(a word?)…But I see the laser pointer thing isn’t getting much play either…

  38. Yes, the right to privacy is just as important as all other rights. Also involved here is the right to property. The drone was trespassing and destroying it was the proper course of action.

  39. The best idea I have seen for this was a fellow who was tired of the local drone equipped peeping Tom and put nets of fishing line out hung loosely and then put out a topless mannequin in his back yard on a Saturday afternoon.
    I have no problem with RC aircraft, but if you use the thing to harass, or violate someone’s privacy you will get no sympathy from me, no matter how much you spent on the damn thing.

  40. That prompted the Kentucky man to grab his shotgun (he had one at hand, as every father of a teenage girl should), took aim and peppered the whirligig with a couple of loads of lead.
    Sounds like a responsible father to me. If the drone is flying low over your property it is trespassing. No different than an RC dune buggy with a camera.

  41. I know this is from Wikipedia but…
    cuius est solum, eius est usque ad coelum et ad infernos (Latin for “whoever’s is the soil, it is theirs all the way to Heaven and all the way to the depths below”)[2] is a principle of property law, stating that property holders have rights not only to the plot of land itself, but also to the air above and (in the broader formulation) the ground below. The principle is often referred to in its abbreviated form as the ad coelum doctrine.[3]
    In modern law, this principle is still accepted in limited form, and the rights are divided into air rights above and subsurface rights below.

    • Well Tom I agree it kinda should be that way, but American law does not see it entirely that way.
      I took a seminar on the US constitution and the author spoke of “Allodial Title”.

      Basically if you have to pay property taxes to the government then you really don’t own the property.
      You don’t really own your land.
      You don’t really own your vehicle.

      Texas and Nevada are the only states that recognize Allodial Title.

      Your Car.
      Funny thing about vehicles.

      Just about the ONLY way you can really own your vehicle is if you buy it directly from the factory floor.

      What happens with cars is that when a brand new car comes in to the state the
      actual, real title goes to the state government.

      They in turn issue a “Certificate of Title”.
      A certificate of title is NOT the real title.
      The state [I don’t know which office] is holding the actual title.

      You in turn pay an annual tax for your car tag.
      The car tag is just a symbol that you are actually paying RENT.

      And that’s what it means.
      If you pay tax on property, you are actually paying RENT.

      However, to be honest, I don’t know what is the relationship between
      ownership of property (either between Allodialship or not) and
      Water , mineral, and Oil rights.

      Perhaps a Landman might know.

      Also about drones.
      The FAA (our federal government) is already making rules that we
      cannot fly drones on our own “property” above a certain altitude.
      So if they can put a limit on how high we can fly drones on our own
      property, they as far as the federal government is concerned we
      do not own all the airspace to infinity, if any at all.

    • Causby struck down the common law idea of ad coelum, landowners generally do not have an absolute possessory right to the airspace above the surface into perpetuity. Instead, airspace trespass claims are often assessed using the same requirements laid out in the Causby takings claim. Arguably, these standards are used in property tort claims because there can be no trespass in airspace unless the property owner has some
      possessory right to the airspace, which was the same question at issue in Causby. To allege an actionable trespass to airspace, the property owner must not only prove that the interference occurred within the immediate reaches of the land, or the airspace that the owner can possess under Causby, but also that its presence interferes with the actual use of his land. As one court explained, “a property owner owns only as much air space above his property as he can practicable use. And to constitute an actionable trespass, an intrusion has to be such as to subtract from the owner’s use of the property.” This standard for airspace trespass was also adopted by the Restatement (Second) of Torts.

      Geller v. Brownstone Condominium, 82 Ill. App. 3d 334, 336-37
      RESTATEMENT (SECOND) OF TORTS §159(2) (1965) (stating that “Flights by aircraft in the airspace above the land of another is a trespass if, but only if, (a) it enters into the immediate reaches of the airspace next to the land, and (b) it interferes substantially with the other’s use and enjoyment of the land.”).

  42. If your only tool is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail.

    There are more effective means than shooting them out of the sky, but require some preparation. Amateur radio controlled aircraft (aka drones) operate on unsecured frequencies. One can build a jamming device relatively inexpensively – much less now than Utah researchers incurred several years ago. The video feed can be intercepted too.

    And if not fussed over FCC regulations (the chances of getting caught are negligible), you can down them or seize control up to 15 miles away for little extra cost. See or Google ‘drone jamming’.

    Tragic should one ‘accidently’ land on your property and you decline to return it or disavow knowledge of it.

  43. With a shotgun, maybe; below 500′, it’s ones personal airspace and if the thing crosses the property line…

    Might want yo post a no trespassing sign first, though.

    With a slug thrower, never; the atmosphere makes a rotten backstop.

  44. While I am certain that our masters will deem “shooting down” a quad-copter unlawful, I believe there are already laws in place that criminalize spying on your neighbor. Those that spring to mind immediately are criminal trespass, invasion of privacy, and in the case of a spycamera on a quadcopter filming your teenage daughter as she sunbathes you might even be able to get them on stalking/sexual predator/child pornography charges.

    Regardless, I see nothing wrong with what he did, provided he knew his target and what was beyond it. The police are not going to stake out your house to defend your teenage daughter’s virtue, even if they did how would they catch the quad copter operator? Nor can you be certain of the intent of the trespasser- he could be casing the premise, or perhaps he’s a sexual predator who will decide that just looking at your teen daughter isn’t enough.

    You don’t want me to shoot down your quadcopter? Don’t hover in front of my windows. Keep it on your property. Personally I would be more likely to use a slingshot or a set of bolas if collateral damage is a concern. However I think #8 steel shot would be just the ticket if I lived in a very rural area.

  45. Fire, Rescue, and Police are using these more and more. I personally fly one of these for our local Emergency Services and my UAS has been credited with saving 4 lives back in May. We are often dispatched for lost children and elderly. The UAS allows us to locate them in minutes rather than hours. Mr. Meredith had no way of knowing if that UAS was looking for a lost child, the police looking for a suspect, or if it was a neighbor. He violated the 3 rule of gun safety — “knowing your target and what is beyond it” — by making assumptions and then taking action. If that were a Search And Rescue UAS, Mr. Meredith could have just shot down the best chance that a child has of being found. He makes responsible gun advocates, like myself, look bad and gives the gun-grabbers ammunition by his reckless behavior. He was charged with 2 felonies and righteously so.
    Privacy is very important and UAS operators need to respect that privacy. However, we are a nation of laws and the onus is on all of us to obey them or change them through the legal system. Even if the UAS operator did indeed invade the privacy of Mr. Meredith and his family, that is NOT justification for using destructive force.

      • And overflying to hunt for zoning and building code code violations? The technology is too easily abused without sensible regulation including public records disclosure of flight path and activity.

    • A sober an reasoned analysis!

      But I think a net would be legitimate, treating the drone as an intruder and holding it for police just like it was a suspect.

      • I just had a stray thought: the public-benefit craft Garret mentions should have a radio link with voice so they can talk to people. Then if I saw one hovering over a kid I was responsible for I could go play shield and ask what it was doing, who was flying it, badge number, etc. If the government is flying them, they should be considered an extension of the operator, who would be subject to all the things citizens can demand of them in person.

        • I doubt anyone is going to see any drones flying over anyone head. They are not that quite either, they make a pretty loud buzzing noise. I can see some laws needing to be set but if anyone is worry about someone with a drone looking over their shoulder at what their doing it is best to stay indoors. This technology is like smart phones they are not going away and in a couple of years will be smart enough to need little help from their owners. Considering their benefit in rescue I welcome them even if it means I have to put reflective tints in my windows just in case.

        • The “rescue” thing, yeah, that changes everyrhing….LOL!
          In a few years, when it is mandated that all homes and businesses have locks that can be opened with a master key held by police/fire/ems, for rescue purposes of course, I hope you will be in favor of that as well Safety over liberty, what a concept!

  46. Some thoughts as a pilot of “drones”

    No you don’t own your airspace.

    Yes the pilot was a dick and shouldn’t have done what he did.

    No you can’t legally shoot it down, it’s a felony.

    If you can be seen from a public place, like a sidewalk, you can be legally photographed for non commercial purposes.

    If I photographed a sunbathing teenage girl from a sidewalk, I would expect to have my ass kicked, so I wouldn’t.

    If you have an expectation of privacy, such as inside you home with curtains drawn, it would be illegal to try to photograph you.

    The space above your home is not yours, but it has not been legally determined (conclusively) if photographing from this area is invading your “expectation of privacy”. This, IMO, is the crux of the issue.

    Propellers hitting a flag on top of a construction crane will cause a quad copter to tumble and crash and make Bob cry.

    Bob is a responsible pilot and uses his quads for good, not evil.

    Just like guns, 99.99% of pilots are not doing illegal or pervy things.

    There are many, many legitimate and useful things people are doing with these craft.

    These birds only fly 15-20 minutes on a battery, I would try to follow it and have a talk with the bozos if they were doing something questionable. Flying at 100ft or more with these is not going to get you an image of a person that is of much use. They typically have very wide angle lenses, like a go pro. Most are incapable of tight shots unless really low.

    Keep this in mind if you see a quad crossing your area.

    • Your sidewalk comment isn’t relevant. You cannot see the back of someone’s house from the sidewalk or street usually (esp if they have a fence). So that analogy doesn’t work. This is akin to climbing on the fence and then taking your pictures (which is 100% illegal).

      As a non drone user that enjoys my privacy, rather than come find you, I’ll teach you an expensive lesson if you fly your drone over my property, just like this guy did. It’s also not necessarily a felony as this case was just dismissed. The laws on firing a gun inside city limits vary from city to city of course.

      You might be a responsible drone pilot but there are plenty out there that aren’t. There are plenty of cases where they’ve nearly hit planes, acted as peeping toms from afar, etc etc. Since you guys aren’t all responsible enough to respect the rights of others, I think you’re going to see some laws come down the pipe to heavily regulate your hobby. Personally, I’d rather not see more laws (we have far too many) but rather more people shooting these things down or disabling them and teach the hobbyists a very expensive lesson on being responsible.

  47. If a drone is being used by a government agency, it should be labelled as such. As far as that goes, all drones should have ID numbers visibly displayed on them so I know who to complain to the cops about and who to sue in civil court. If you droners don’t like that idea, don’t piss people off, and if you do piss people off, don’t be surprised if you lose your expensive toys.

    • I do have my name and phone number on mine. If I lose it, I want it back. Unless you are doing something questionable you should label it. I have friends who also fly and they have lost several aircraft. It is a no brainer to put a name tag on it.

  48. I’m amazed at how many commenters here seem to be okay with randomly discharging firearms into the sky in urban areas. Makes us all come across like dumb rednecks looking for an excuse to shoot things.

    Fact is, these are overpriced toys. It’s no different than shooting at a baseball or Frisbee that flies over your fence- there’s probably a dumb kid behind it. Most of these things do not have a very far effective range.

    Like it or not, “muh property!” is not a valid reason, legal or otherwise, to shoot at other people or their things. Gotta have an actual threat before you can employ lethal force.

    Not to mention, if the drone is low enough that you can realistically say it’s watching you, there are dozens of other ways to safely take it down.

  49. As a drone operator, I realize that flying my drone over another person’s property is a violation of the property owner’s perceived rights. Legally, I don’t think so. If one of my neighbors took out my drone while I’m out trying to catch pics of the sunset, I would be truly pissed. But there is no need to hover over their property for a sunset capture. On the other hand, I can hover comfortably within the boundaries of my own small lot and do a skinny dipping survey of several neighbors’ pools. I can legally fly up to 300 feet. I can see pretty far from 300 feet up. As already posted, aircraft are restricted to 500 feet or greater. I really don’t think anyone has a leg to stand on regarding privacy from drones when a small plane or ultralight can cruise by a little higher than my drone. Safety is another issue. Aircraft have rigid safety and maintenance requirements. There are none for drones. Drone operators need to be aware that if they are flying beyond visual range or hovering needlessly over someone by a pool, they not only risk damage to their drone, but possible legal restrictions on all drone owners.

    • True that there are some issue with drones been lost and that does seem to happen a bit but that is just a technical hurdle that in a few years will be dealt with if not sooner. The rest is well said, if someone is putting shots into the air out to 300 feet then there is some major paranoia going on there and its only a matter of time before something bad happens to someone.

      My favorite one that I am looking to maybe get when it comes out is the Lily Camera. Looks like a lot of fun for when I am outdoors and camping.

    • It’s not a perceived right, property rights exist. You have no right to go onto or over another person’s property without permission. If you want to fly your drone over your own property, that’s fine. If you want to fly it over someone else’s you better ask first or don’t complain when your drone no longer flies. Your analogy of a plane doesn’t fit. Planes can’t stop in mid air and hover. Planes typically aren’t basically silent like a drone either. Drones have been made stealthy (by intent or accident) and people are using them to spy on others (including acting as peeping toms from afar).

      If you can’t respect the rights of others, then you won’t get any respect back when your drone is shot out of the sky.

  50. ““Are you the son of a bitch that shot my drone?” one said, according to Merideth.”
    Answer: ” Are you man enough to go through me to look for it?”

  51. It is very old fashioned heterosexual male thinking to defend the virtue of a daughter or wife with lethal force. This old world concept does not exist in the homosexual land of California. A place we’re private business transactions were required to be video taped and turned over to the police with out a warrent.

    The idea of defending your privacy without the use of the government thru expensive lawyers is alien to progressives. I’m glad I left the backward slave state of California for the free state of kentucky. A place we’re I don’t need government permission to defend my life or my property or my privacy.

  52. Pretty sure SCOTUS has set 500′ as the airspace over which a property owner controls.

    Perhaps more interesting is the rogue blimp over PA drifting along at 300′ while causing power outages to 18,000. Would be very tempted to see what a few rounds would do if I lived in rural PA.

  53. And please understand that an airborne camera sees a looong way without having to cross your fence. Just go a little higher and see all you want. I would like to slap the $&@# out of the person who came up with these things! Your home is your refuge and that is now completely destroyed. I built a pool so I could swim without being in public view. Now we can be on the internet anytime some punk wants to be obnoxious? How right is that? And you know, you would think any person with $2000 would have more sense and a better use for the cash. Oh and the lawmakers are useless. If the craft owners are sleazy enough to fly them intrusively, you have to know they surely won’t pay attention to any laws. And last point for now…calling the cops and waiting…have you forgotten how fast the internet works? Andnitmisnt like a camera in a tree…you have no idea where the craft is coming from. It’s all just wrong but you can’t fight or fix stupid

  54. In this March 12, 2014 file photo, a drone prepares to land after flying over the scene of an explosion that leveled two apartment buildings in East Harlem in New York. When government officials designed a new air traffic control system, they neglected to take something into account — drones. The FAA has already spent over a decade and more than $5 billion on the complex and ambitious new system dubbed NextGen, and is nearly finished installing hardware and software for several key systems.


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