Shooting Down Drones

A man in Kentucky man shot down drone that was hovering over his property. He has been arrested and charged with first degree criminal mischief and first-degree wanton endangerment. News story here. The Kentucky man was quoted as saying:

“Our rights are being trampled daily,” he said, the station reported. “Not on a local level only — but on a state and federal level. We need to have some laws in place to handle these kind of things.”

So what is the position on drones? And in particular what is the position on preventing other people’s drones from entering private property?

The right to property does not include an unlimited right to the airspace above the property. Therefore flying objects are not violating your property when they fly above it. This makes a lot of sense in relation to airplanes and helicopters. It would be strange if they needed permission to fly above individuals property – also it would be very dangerous if individuals could take pot-shots at them for violating airspace.

Actually there are most probably several laws and ordinances that deal with shooting a firearm in an urban area. And also shooting at aircraft. But this isn’t the first time someone shot down a drone a New Jersey man was arrested and charged with “possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose and criminal mischief” for  shooting down his neighbor’s drone.

The FAA has guidelines in place for unmanned aircraft systems and has partnered with industry associations to promote Know Before You Fly. The latter has provisions about respecting privacy.

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