axon taser drone
Axon Enterprise via AP
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A recent post by Axon CEO Rick Smith  argues that drones armed with less lethal weapons — like, for instance TASERs — could be a good way to protect schools as an alternative to going after gun rights. While I can appreciate where the post is coming from and think emerging technologies could be part of the answer, it’s important to not pretend that we don’t already have good solutions to this problem.

Before I point out some of Smith’s glaring errors, I want to point out that I can appreciate the desire to use technology to navigate around a political impasse. There is certainly political deadlock that prevents any kind of solution to these schools shootings from happening.

We bitter clingers (even if not all of us “ammosexuals” cling to religion) aren’t about to give up our gun rights. Anti-gun Democrats (BIRM) aren’t about to allow most teachers to carry guns to defend students. So, yes, nothing happens after an atrocity like Uvalde because the political system doesn’t consider the many alternative approaches that both sides can live with. Assuming there are any.

We Don’t Need New Technologies To Secure Schools

But, that doesn’t mean alternative approaches don’t already exist. Or that we’re waiting for a new technology that can break the deadlock. Schools can be secured today, using existing technologies. Take this school in Indiana for example . . .

This particular security system has been available for years, but it’s expensive. The truth is, schools can be secured against intruders for a lot less money using simpler strategies like hardened doors, security films on existing glass, and simply locking outside doors.

Combine those with better lockdown methods (like the red stripe on the floor to guide students to safer hiding places) and a police force that actually responds, and you’d have fewer casualties even without arming anyone in the school.

But most school districts can’t be bothered to do something as simple as lock doors, and many police departments can’t seem to follow well-established protocols and do their jobs during these sorts of emergencies. Without even the basics, no amount of money spent on fancy technologies will help.

In other words, we need to cover the basics (people doing their damned jobs) before we can seriously consider shelling out taxpayer money to buy gadgets like expensive drone gear. A drone sitting on a shelf with a dead battery and/or no one who’s prepared to actually use it would be as useless as the cops in Uvalde were.

Deploying Drones Is Harder Than Deploying Pistols

Early in his article, Axon’s CEO said this about arming teachers . . .

Police officers struggle to use their weapons in tense situations, and that’s after years of training. To demand that an untrained, armed teacher defend their classroom is simply begging for more more tragic outcomes.

That oft-used talking point both overestimates police training (which is usually very basic) and is patently silly in an article about drones, which require a fair amount of training and experience to safely and legally use. As an FAA certified Part 107 remote pilot (AKA, a drone pilot), I know about what’s involved in deploying drones.

How hare-brained is the drone idea? Well . . .

Just to get the license, you need to learn about general drone regulations, how to navigate airspace, how different types of aircraft perform, and some basic concepts for safe operation. To illustrate how complex just one of these topic areas are, lets take a look at an FAA chart:

To pass the FAA drone pilot test, you have to be able to look at this chart and answer specific questions about it. Where can you legally fly a drone? What are the different airspace classes on this map? What are the hazards?

It’s actually simpler than it looks once you know what you’re doing with a sectional chart, but you have to learn things to know what you’re doing with a chart. You have to consider things like notices to airmen (NOTAMs), temporary flight restrictions (TFRs), and many other things not on the chart.

Then there are the challenges of navigating a drone inside a school to go after a shooter.

That’s just one subject area you have to study to pass the FAA test. Does it seem like that’s easier than shooting a pistol?

Schools would have to purchase a drone and a backup (because two is one and one is none when things go wrong), practice flying safely and get good enough with it to navigate areas like school hallways, keep up with drone maintenance and pilot continuing education requirements, make sure there are always batteries charged and ready to go. Screw up one or two of these, and there won’t be a drone available if the worst happens.

Plus, schools will need multiple pilots in every police department or school district, and make sure one is always on shift and ready to fly. You’ll need at least three pilots and hope none of them want to schedule vacation time. And, you’ll need to train them on how to use not just a drone, but one with a taser on it.

Assuming all of this works perfectly (it won’t…it never does), you’ll still run into the problem of a TASER dart not sticking, the bad guy grabbing the drone by the propeller guard or shooting it, and watching in horror as it’s smashed to the ground. Then you’ll still need an armed response ready to go when (not “if”) the expensive drone the school bout with a flaky TASER fails to incapacitate a guy who’s shooting at kids while wearing body armor.

Having been through a law enforcement academy, and having worked as both a firearms instructor and a drone pilot, it’s ludicrous make it sound like deploying a drone with a TASER is going to be easier than training teachers to use a pistol.

And I’m apparently not the only one. Smith apparently made his idea public without consulting the company’s ethics board . . .

Smith told The Associated Press last week he made the idea public in part because he was “catastrophically disappointed” in the response by police who didn’t move in to kill the suspect for more than an hour.

The board issued a rare public rebuke of the project, saying it was a dangerous idea that went far beyond the initial proposal the board had reviewed for a Taser-equipped police drone. It said it had “pleaded with the company to pull back” before the announcement and that many of them believed it was “trading on the tragedy of the Uvalde and Buffalo shootings.”

Smith had rejected that idea in an interview with the AP last week and said he was pressing ahead because he believed the Taser drone could be a viable solution to save lives. He contended the idea needed to be shared as part of the public conversation about school safety and effective ways for police to safely confront attackers.

On Monday, nine members of the ethics board, a group of well-respected experts in technology, policing and privacy, announced resignations, saying they had “lost faith in Axon’s ability to be a responsible partner.”

As a result, nine members of the board resigned and Axon has announced that it’s scrapping its armed drone plans.

There are plenty of far less complex and affordable ways to make schools harder targets to attack without throwing money at expensive, unproven technologies. Just don’t expect anyone in Congress or in most states to give most of them serious consideration.

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60 COMMENTS

  1. The ONLY viable solution to these school shootings is to allow adult staff, already working daily at those schools, and who also already carry their own personal defensive weapon everywhere BUT the schools where they work, totake sdirected training and then be “allowed” (its already their RIGHT to do so) to carry those same weapons at school just like they do everywhere else. Imagine, Miss Clarke’s third grade classroom being invaded by a “man with a gun”. SHE simply draws her own pistol takes quick and careful aim, and drops the perp in his tracks. Once he is down, she then begins to calm and comfort her students, assuring them its all over now they are safe. Nearly all of the kids, once they think about it, will be VERY surprised that she even knew what a gun IS, let alone how to handle one well and quickly. They’ll get over that a whole lot easier than they now get over having ten or twenty of their classmates shot before their eyes, and being pretty certain tey are high up on the list for the next round.

    And this can all be done at NO COST to the school distarcis or taxpayers. It IS done in some parts of some states. Texas allows this in some school distaricts, each one deciding. ?The one in Uvalde chose to NOt allow adult staff to be armed. Hmmm.. wonder if the perp was aware ot this “difference”. He would be far from the first to carefully select a no guns zone” where no one could shoot back t him.

    • Volunteer vets with their own weapons. Already trained, no cost to taxpayers, willing to fight till death to defend their kids’ schools. Ill go tomorrow.

      • But all vets are PTSD psychos, right? The gov’t said so. Be trained to kill on our orders, and later be denounced as potential killers.

        I would volunteer tomorrow as well. Today even.

    • Well I have seen drone races and one of those hard to shoot bad boys in the hands of a competent operator could be a lethal weapon, distraction, etc. Really what needs to happen first is the removal of marxist democRats from public schools. Their hate for firearms is an invitation for deranged criminals to come and feast on an endless supply of soft targets. And they continue to get away with it by blaming anything and everyone but themselves and the perpetrator.

      Gun Control is much more racist that a noose, colored signs, slave shacks, etc. Knee jerk America should cease looking for answers in an agenda that history clearly confirms is rooted in racism and genocide. Children deserve better than that.

    • Several states have programs to train armed staff or other volunteers to fight off mass murderers. Florida’s Guardian program specifies 144 hours of training. Previous military or police experience would give a defender a head start but doesn’t eliminate the need for training specific to the threat.

  2. Never miss an opportunity to hawk your expensive, useless shit. Especially when virtue signalling politicians will use taxpayer dollars to buy it.

    • GWOT is winding down spending wise and related companies have to find new markets as we go back to cold war prep. With that said I would probably say the taser drone would be less than useless as it would build a false confidence in the ability to handle a threat. Security film and good (actually shut and locked) doors do wonders though.

  3. Tasers incapacitate by stimulating the pain nerves in the skin with an electrical charge. Against persons with numbed pain sensation, such as those doped up to the ears with narcotics, they are of limited effectiveness at best.

    • I don’t believe that is correct drednicolson I may lack the proper nomenclature, but I believe the taser works by overloading the nerves. Nerves work on electricity, very very low current and amperage. Neurons fire, sending messages to the next neuron in line, etc etc. Shooting 50,000 volts along those neurons simply overloads them, so they can’t transmit signals any longer.

      It does hurt to be zapped, but the pain is not the intended consequence. The intent is to make you lose control of your body.

      • You are correct, dred has confused it with a regular stun gun which *is* a simple pain-compliance tool

      • I used to date a professional Dominatrix and can tell you from personal experience that there is not a spot on my body other than my eyeball that you can zap with a taser that would take me down.

  4. The real reason AXON had to drop the drone is because all the new Tasers (based on their new design) are now classified as Firearms and the FAA wont allow armed aircraft out side of the US DOD.

  5. We are talking about people with guns needlessly firing rounds all over the place right?

    What exactly makes anyone thing that a drone won’t just get shot down?

    • It’s “technology”, you luddite! *incredulous eyeroll* Gawwwwd, what next, you gonna ask where the “on” switch is and then question MMT and Critical Theory, grandpa?

      Yes, /s, obvs.

      • lol
        not sure what your trying to say here but I can tell you this much, I’ve forgot more about technology then you will ever know.

        • *sigh*

          Even with a sarcasm tag in the post you can’t detect the sarcasm…. wow. I honestly don’t even know what to say to that.

          Note to self, don’t agree with people on TTAG using sarcasm. They may not get it even when the sarcasm is clearly marked.

    • Hmm….my granddaughters are home schooled. Ditto my brother’s kids. My sons are grown. If possible don’t send your children to a propaganda mill. Hey we had race riots when I was in high school some 50 years ago. Nobody got shot but some one got stabbed. Public school sux…

  6. As much as I carry a taser when I am working, I know that unless you have immediate access to the perpetrator, the effects will wear off rather quickly. Not everyone is affected the same way by a Taser. Then there is the problem that the Taser could cause the gunman to discharge his weapon involuntarily.
    No, this is NOT a “good idea” .

  7. “…like the red stripe on the floor to guide students to safer hiding places…”

    I assume you mean to “safer, hardened spaces”. It’s not a very good “hiding” place if there’s a map that leads right to it drawn on the fuckin’ floor.

    Oh, and yeah, the drone thing is both stupid and dystopian. Like so much else going on right now, it’s a cash grab aimed at taxpayer’s pockets and the Federal Reserve “printing press”.

    • Jenny rolls two of the most moronic faux “security” scheme into one article. Drones and anything that NBC faux “news” twit does.

      Nothing brings out the get rich quick scammers like “for the children”

  8. If you really want to sell drones to schools and/or police departments, forget about the frickin’ taser. The drone has to get into the space where the bad guy is, just like the cops have to get into that space. So – sell a drone with the equivalent of those shotguns, that can blow away the door locks.

    The one semi-valid excuse I’ve heard for not going into the classroom is, the shooter would have heard cops battering or blowing the door down, and shot them. SO USE A DRONE!!!

    Doesn’t even have to be a FLYING drone. Just a stupid little tracked robot to place the charge and blow the door open. FFS – robot rolls up, places the charge, detonates it, rolls through the door, and gets shot 30 times. So, you’ve lost a $30,000 piece of electronics – but the cops can follow up and actually SAVE THE KIDS!!!

    A drone that can’t get through a locked door is doing nobody any good.

    Is everybody in the tech industry stupid? Or only almost everybody? Stop trying to sell sh1t that you don’t understand. Instead, talk to the cops, and see what they can actually use. Didn’t Dallas do this the right way a couple years back? They sent a fricking ROBOT after a shooter, and took him down. No drone, just a little tracked robot. BANG! You’re dead!

    • Unless the shooter placed human shields right up against the door and your bot’s bomb turned them into gumbo before the cops entered the room.

  9. I believe the inventor of the legendary children and minority protection tool that can be used by anybody is called Samuel Colt. Because god made men, and Colt made them equal.

  10. Those robot dogs could be armed with bone crushing jaws, tasers, a bolo, fishnets with barbs soaked in sedatives, knockout spray, a brown note speaker, a huge jug of crazy glue and really bad artificial intelligence.
    What could go wrong?

    Should instead we worry more about the vastly greater risks to children and cut back school shooting by reducing the coverage which stimulates copy cats?

    • You’re onto an important element with the copy cats there. How many shooters have been shown to have researched earlier school shooters? It’s almost like a competition. “Shooter X killed 20 kids and 2 adults, I have to top that!” “Shooter X did this right, did that wrong, did something else right – how can I improve on that?” Or, maybe, “Shooter X used the wrong weapon, he could have killed more with (shotgun, AR, a bomb, whatever)” Copycats dwell on that crap for months, maybe even years. Stop the news coverage, they lose some of their ideas, some of their motivation, and they are threatened with not even being noticed.

  11. Technology? If the goal is to prevent school shootings, then how about just teaching your kids to settle their differences without violence, and that cruelty can be repaid?

    • You’ll never get rid of violence because it’s part of human nature.

      But a couple decades ago when I started high school most kids had a knife and those old enough to drive had a rifle in the truck.

      Fistfights happened semi-frequently but no one ever drew a blade or went out and got rifle.

      Oddly, when you don’t go out of your way to repress young men’s aggression, they tend to work it out in less destructive ways than when you try to feminize them repress their instinct to punch each other when someone deserves to learn a lesson.

      • But muh toxic masculinity and white privilege and patriarchy. Did I miss any of the school board talking points?

      • I’m guessing that “learn a lesson” is your region’s slang for “reasonable force used in self-defense”?

      • The assailants in a multiple-attacker beating and the assailant in a shooting may very well believe that violence and lethal or grossly-injurious disparity of force to be necessary for teaching their victims a lesson they believe their victims need to be taught. What is the basis for claiming one to be more righteous than the other?

  12. What a load of bollocks most entries here are when the REAL solution is staring everybody in the face. LESS FIREARM AB VAILABILITY and very much harder conditions of licence. All you idiots that are at the beck-and-call of the firearms industry had better wake up to reality. It’s that industry that as you know full well is behind the current encouragement for even MORE firearms, and in particular HAND GUNS on the streets. It’s that industry that is pushing money into the REPUBLICAN PARTY and into thiose organisations against further gun controls.
    Sooner or later the firearms industry will be fi orced into accepting responsibility for their actions just as the AUTOMOBILE, TOBACCO and CIVIL AERONAUTICAL INDUSTRIES have had to do.
    IN fact is such a dysfuntional and lawless society that is the USA I can actually see some justification o and need for household self defence the fact is that simply ‘carrying’ handguns is of little use in the real world as a mens of self dewfence and is far more likly to get YOU killed than it is to provide personal self defence . WHT? Because to be effective in self defence, like the PROFESSIONALS, you have to have HANDS ON WEAPONRY. In other words you have to be ‘locked-and-loaded’ and ready to react at all times. The Bad guy of gal, pointing a bloody handgun at you has the drop and the only result if you were stupid enough to go for it is that you are bloody dead FOR SURE. If the original intent was to kill you’d already be dead anyway. Give him or her you bloody wallet.

    • Drug prohibition worked so well. So did alcohol. Firearms prohibition will work even less well. Mexico is awash with real military weapons and our border is wide open.

      You’re not very smart, troll boi.

    • Prince among kings Albert has spoken. A former member of the Chair Force (false appeal to authority).

  13. No money will be sent on protecting the children as long as the UFT can get its bloody hands on it. The union would rather groom children that keep them safe, or actually teach them anything other than CRT and prepubescent sex.

    • Yup, cutting off school lunch to poor kids because the school doesn’t let them use the “affirming” bathroom or play on the other sex’s team is totally an appropriate use of .gov power.

      Obviously there’s a discussion there to be had about federal school lunch programs to begin with, but that’s kinda an aside at this point.

      • No. Custody disputes that resulted in aggrieved parents trying to kidnap their children from the school.

        And my father, who is a retired school principal, also said incidents with intruders that resulted in near kidnappings, assaults, rape, and intoxication during school hours.

  14. School security is only as good as the weakest link so start by locking the F##king doors.

    Downunder our schools are fortresses in comparison with high fences on the outer perimeter and spikes or barbed wire to stop climbing. Gates are closed and even locked during school hours. All access is through one controlled point.

  15. A Taser drone isn’t going to get through a locked door. Does a janitor have to open the door to let the drone in? Solution: 2 drones predeployed in every room

  16. Regarding the red arrows leading to hiding spaces, wouldn’t that also just lead the shooter to where kids are hiding?

      • If it is simple to execute and actually has a hardened (read ballistic resistant) room with a secured door it wouldn’t matter if the shooter got there after it closed and locked. Sucks for the stragglers that didn’t make it though. Better solution may be some level of automatic doors closing and locking but that would really suck for anyone in the same sealed area with the shooter. In the end detecting preventing and delaying entry probably should be the focus followed by any interior security measures.

  17. Need a squad or two to ED-209 at every gov’t kid warehouse endoctrination center. Painted in the rainbow colors.

    Or would one of the Terminators w/Skynet controlling a network at ALL kiddie schools.

    So much money and clueless dems. Lets just get the FBI/Dept of “Justice” to spend the money/figure it all out. Can trust them to get it right.

  18. We have the technology but not the funds to do it.

    Our method of funding education by using property taxes is totally unfair. Poorer districts not only are less safe but have poorer quality education. Other countries like Canada which do not use property taxes have higher quality education for all their districts, not just the rich districts.

    It all boils down to the fact that its just cheaper to ban guns than fund huge private armies and billions in technology to stop lone maniacs with assault rifles.

    And remember the cheap ass criminal Republicans would never fund such security programs. To date they have even refused to fund the fall covid vaccine requirements setting up the country for another mass die off of people from the rapidly emerging new variants of the deadly disease. In Capitalvania life is considered cheap and expendable.

    • Apparently, nobody has ever bothered to look this up before… until now:
      From the American Heritage College Dictionary:
      Da-ci-a. An ancient region and Roman province corresponding roughly to present day Romania; abandoned to the Goths after A.D. 270 – Da-ci-an adj. & n.

      • This was pointed out over two years ago on TTAG.
        The residents of Dacia liked defiling little boys too.

  19. Or…. and I am just spitballing here… fix the door lock.

    In Sandy Hook, the deranged lunatic shoot the reinforced window repeatedly until he was able to kick it out and force his way in. Had a school resource officer been present, the entire tragedy could have been avoided by simply shooting him as he tried to force his way through the broken glass,

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