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Colorado Town Declares Open Season On Federal Drones

July 19, 2013 by  

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is going after people who shoot domestic surveillance and reconnaissance drones out of the sky, reacting to word that people are organizing bounties that reward anyone who turns up with the dismantled scraps of any unmanned aircraft they’ve successfully taken down.

The move is likely a pre-emptive show of power to curb a precedent set by the small Colorado town of Deer Trail, where privacy advocates are preparing an ordinance that, if approved by town leaders, would establish a municipally paid bounty of up to $100 to residents and nonresidents alike for every Federal drone they take out of commission. All that would be required is a $25 annual “drone-hunting license,” issued by the town, permitting bounty hunters to declare open season on drones anywhere within Deer Trail airspace.

It’s highly illegal, and the ordinance’s main proponent, Phillip Steel, knows it.

“Is it illegal? Of course it is,” Steel told CNN. “But it’s also illegal to spy on American citizens. If they fly in town, we will shoot them down.”

Steel wrote the ordinance himself, which sets rules on what kinds of firearms can and can’t be used, as well as a number of other parameters that seem to combine humor (such as forcing people who shoot down’ a child’s RC helicopter by mistake to reimburse the cost — unless it was flying above their own property) with a serious-minded statement about what it means to be a free American.

The town clerk told The Daily Caller that a petition to bring the ordinance to a vote had collected “way more” signatures than required under the law. The Deer Trail town board of trustees will take up the ordinance at its Aug. 6 regular meeting. The clerk said the board is actually considering passing the ordinance outright.

Ben Bullard

Reconciling the concept of individual sovereignty with conscientious participation in the modern American political process is a continuing preoccupation for staff writer Ben Bullard. A former community newspaper writer, Bullard has closely observed the manner in which well-meaning small-town politicians and policy makers often accept, unthinkingly, their increasingly marginal role in shaping the quality of their own lives, as well as those of the people whom they serve. He argues that American public policy is plagued by inscrutable and corrupt motives on a national scale, a fundamental problem which individuals, families and communities must strive to solve. This, he argues, can be achieved only as Americans rediscover the principal role each citizen plays in enriching the welfare of our Republic.

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