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Colorado city proposes drone hunting permits; FAA threatens prosecution

Colorado city proposes drone hunting permits; FAA threatens prosecution

As Professor Jacobson’s recent pictorial essay noted, there is something for both the left and right to hate about the Obama Administration’s use of drones.

As the co-founder of San Diego’s first Tea Party group, I love the grassroots initiative displayed by the citizens of one Colorado town to address the concerns Americans have over the use of these aerial vehicles over their skies. They propose a new type of hunting license that combines free market savvy while targeting statist government tactics.

The small town of Deer Trail, Colo. is considering a bold move. The town board will be voting on an ordinance that would create drone hunting licenses and offer bounties for unmanned aerial vehicles.

Deer Trail resident, Phillip Steel, drafted the ordinance.

“We do not want drones in town,” said Steel. “They fly in town, they get shot down.”

Even though it’s against the law to destroy federal property, Steel’s proposed ordinance outlines weapons, ammunition, rules of engagement, techniques, and bounties for drone hunting.

Of course, Washington’s bureaucratic elites are not nearly as amused as I am:

People who fire guns at drones are endangering the public and property and could be prosecuted or fined, the Federal Aviation Administration warned Friday.

The FAA released a statement in response to questions about an ordinance under consideration in the tiny farming community of Deer Trail, Colo., that would encourage hunters to shoot down drones. The administration reminded the public that it regulates the nation’s airspace, including the airspace over cities and towns.

A drone “hit by gunfire could crash, causing damage to persons or property on the ground, or it could collide with other objects in the air,” the statement said. “Shooting at an unmanned aircraft could result in criminal or civil liability, just as would firing at a manned airplane.”

Under the proposed ordinance, Deer Trail would grant hunting permits to shoot drones. The permits would cost $25 each. The town would also encourage drone hunting by awarding $100 to anyone who presents a valid hunting license and identifiable pieces of a drone that has been shot down.

The FAA is relying on the classic “safety first” arguments that are the standard response to reasonable questions about liberty-impinging rules. However, given the use license plate scanners to amass massive and unregulated databases that can be used to track law-abiding citizens paired with Attorney General Eric Holder’s targeting of private citizen George Zimmerman, I think the citizens of Deer Trail have alighted upon an admirable solution.


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radiofreeca | July 21, 2013 at 9:46 am

I can understand that it would be illegal to fire at a drone which one knows is owned by the Federal government. But many private corporations are using drones now for monitoring oil and gas and power-lines, as well as I’m sure for other uses. So if a drone is flying overhead, how can a person on the ground identify the owner? Will they carry USAF, NSA, CIA or some other markings indicating Federal government ownership, that can be seen from the ground?

    JerryB in reply to radiofreeca. | July 21, 2013 at 10:56 am

    Maybe there should first be a campaign called “Respect My Airspace”, and ask folks using surveillance drones to inform communities of their flight plans and operations. This could help citizens become more aware, too. Besides, did you ever thing that terrorists might want to start using air bombs? A well informed citizenry could provide the first line of defense.

    Hockey Bum in reply to radiofreeca. | July 21, 2013 at 1:23 pm

    Simple. You can’t arbitrarily shoot at private property, either, no matter what local ordinances may purport to allow.

Conservative Beaner | July 21, 2013 at 9:47 am

If the government doesn’t use drones to spy on law abiding citizens then the FAA shouldn’t have anything to worry about.

If the city council doesn’t pass the proposed law, residents of any municipality in Colorado can collect signatures on petitions to put a local ballot initiative on just their city’s ballot.

We the people regulate airspace. Shoot the drones. We are not the enemy.
By now the IRS, NSA & dozens of other gov’t orgs have ‘data’ on the bad guys just as they do on us good guys. Get the bad guys w/o drones.

I would like to see recommendations for caliber, scope options etc. Like any other game, it should be one shot one kill.

A more successful tactic, and a safer one, would be to blind the drones using lasers. Some techies could figure out what’s necessary: laser wavelength, power, and where the camera(s) are located on the drone. With enough power and the right wavelengths, the cameras could be damaged enough to make its imagery useless.

Another thought is a GPS jammer, or a control signal jammer. This could cause a crash, so don’t do it in populated areas.

What, they want people to pay for a license to do this? What’s the excuse? It’s not like they have raise funds to maintain “conservation airspace” for drones to graze in when it’s not hunting season.

Just another chance to regulate or tax something. These guys are as bad as the feds.

And what are they proposing to be fired into the air? Bullets – not so good. Bullets that go up eventually come down. They tend to be lethal either way. Shotgun pellets, not so bad, but they’ll only get the drones that are close enough to peer into windows. Ahh, rockets! That should rile up both the model rocketry types and the R/C airplane types. Or is there some crafty way to distinguish a good ol’ model airplane from a drone?

Allegedly the Iranians brought down a US drone by doing the following:
1. Jamming the secure GPS signal which caused the drone to switch to the civilian GPS signal.
2. Overloading the weak civilian GPS signal with a strong signal generated from the ground so that the drone locked onto the Iranian’s GPS signal.
3. Gradually changing the GPS coordinates in the signal so that the drone “thought” it was flying home when in reality it was flying to wherever the Iranians wanted it to fly.

Does the town give extra rewards if you bring in a drone complete and undamaged?

Drones are a step too far, a big step too far.

In a war zone, no problem; the more the better as far as I’m concerned.

But in your own city or town? Crazy.

I can sorta support cameras in public places, particularly places where criminal activity is common. But the agency with the cameras should clearly publish the location and the cameras should flash or something to let you know they are there.

That’s the problem with drones. You don’t know they are there, and they completely obliterate individual privacy. Where’s the limit anyway. If our gubamint slave masters have the right to film me taking a hike in the wilderness or driving to Walmart, who’s to say they won’t have mosquito-sized drones 10 year from now flying inside my house.

These people have no limits in their never-ending quest for total power. They have to be stopped. It’s way past the point of no return.

A small one, mounted on a mahogany plack, over the fireplace would be really cool.

Last I heard, it was also illgal to shelter illegal aliean, and to interfere with military recruiting.

This hasn’t stopped towns from passing ordianaces to do these things.

P.S. I love nuclear-free zones. Let’s get rid of all those pesky neutrons and protons!

Maybe we can also put a bounty on those license plate readers, too.

This has to be the stupidest idea I’ve heard in awhile, and I’ve heard a lot since following the professor here. Say you wing one, it loses control, and falls on a house… then what? Or a dozen drunk rednecks decide that sparrow is a drone?

    Old0311 in reply to ironghost. | July 21, 2013 at 6:50 pm

    Rednecks! By golly you you better quit profiling us or you might find a bunch of us drinking and barbecuing in your front yard. We’ll bring our own lawn chairs, do you have a big porch? LOL!!

Subotai Bahadur | July 21, 2013 at 2:38 pm

Just for clarification on some issues noted above.

From what I have read about the ordinance and statements by the Town Council and authors of the proposed ordinance:

1) The ordinance limits weaponry to 12 gauge shotguns, has limits on shot size/type, and only 3 shots per two hour period.

2) The drone has to be <1000 feet in altitude and over the town limits of Deer Trail [which extend far outside the built up area].

3) The petition has enough certified signatures to place it on a special election ballot, so the Town Council is placing it on the agenda at the August meeting to handle it short of an expensive special election.

4) The bounty is $25 for wing and tail fragments and $100 for a drone brought down substantially intact if they bear markings showing that they belong to the US government.

5) rantbot | July 21, 2013 at 10:54 am Ordinances here [initiated or otherwise] have to specifically account for “fiscal impact” [despite the best efforts of the Democrats controlling both Houses of our legislature and the governorship; we are not yet Detroit.] The fee would cover any payouts, and the Council admits it would be a net moneymaker for the Town. However, no one is coerced in any way to buy one of these permits. And most of the voluntary purchases will be from out of town. See #7 below.

6) mzk | July 21, 2013 at 11:31 am Yep. Just as the laws he cited are gestures of defiance against the Federal government by the Left; those who are not Leftists can make similar gestures. Just as Boulder’s nuclear-free zone was designed to give the Federales knickers a twist, this will do the same to the Leftist regime in power now. Given that electoral politics are moot now, gestures help shape the framework for whatever comes after.

7) In reference to #5 above, the purchase of a “permit” is a voluntary choosing of sides. It carries, given the last few months revelations, relatively small marginal increase of risk of retaliation from the Federal government. When every posting on a site that is less than adulatory to the regime, when every critical email, every phone call, and every item of postal mail is collected/recorded/tracked by the regime, when the act of reading this thread and the comments here already makes you an enemy of the state, and adds those you know and those they know to the government dragnet:

getting a drone permit is a case of “in for a penny, in for a pound”.

For the record, I have not been anywhere near Deer Trail for several decades, and if I ever stopped there, it was only for gas. But if they pass this ordinance, I almost surely will get one, just for feces and rictus. The only question is; will the purchase have to be in person, or can I do it online or by mail?

Subotai Bahadur

    Bruce Hayden in reply to Subotai Bahadur. | July 23, 2013 at 1:03 am

    Haven’t been through Deer Trail in an even longer time. At one time, would drive through on trips between Denver/Golden and DC. But, in the last decade or so probably haven’t been east of DIA (the Denver airport, built out in western Kansas so that the politically connected could make cumulatively a billior so so). Which means that the town has maybe 500 residents, and is an hour east of Denver on I-70, in a part of the state that is pretty flat and open.

    This isn’t the first time that someone in the state has tried to make a point using guns and the like. A decade or so ago, on the opposite end of the state, they were having prarie dog shoots in Nucla. Except to make a point, it really wasn’t about the prarie dogs, though they made fine targets, and the farmers and ranchers were happy. Rather, it was about the marksmanship – they weren’t shooting from 50 feet away, but instead from some distance to make it challenging – I think that they even had some .50 rifles shooting at a mile or so. Probably wouldn’t leave much in the way of prarie dog remains with bullets that big. Unfortunately, I think that the animal rights people finally protested the prarie dog shoot into oblivion.

ColonialGal | July 21, 2013 at 2:38 pm

Deer Tail sounds like a fun place to visit. Three guys in picture are sure enjoying their day. That said their message does not really apply to the article was it just a picture that you found? Are they protesting drones in war zones or drones on American soil ( air )? Are they even in Deer Tail?

Boy, you can’t hardly shoot up anything anymore.

Henry Hawkins | July 21, 2013 at 2:58 pm

In the rural areas of NC are plenty of people who will shoot down drones if they can, heedless of laws. The first will marijuana growers and still operators, followed by good ol’ boys for whom five things unforeseeably coincide:


We consider rules against murder, rape, and the like to be laws. Rules against growing pot, brewing shine, or shooting down government drones we take as unsolicited suggestions from state and federal government.

I’m seeking a patent* for a ram drone which dangles easily detachable lengths of light cord below its main body, cords that rip off with a slight tug and hopelessly entangle the blades of any drone towards which it happened to lower itself to within, oh, twenty feet or so. In emergencies you could ram it body on body, though you’d destroy both.

*[Greetings to the NSA staffer now assigned to review US Patent Office applications looking for this, using key words ram drone, drone, and Tea Party].

    Old0311 in reply to Henry Hawkins. | July 21, 2013 at 6:55 pm

    What about one of those pumpkin guns? I bet a pumpkin would bring down a drone!

      Henry Hawkins in reply to Old0311. | July 21, 2013 at 8:25 pm

      We looked at that, but the targeting mechanics said no. Too much variance between pumpkin size, shape, and ripeness. We continue to use the pumpkin trebuchets to cover approach trails and lanes, however.

      Crossbows with flaming bolts were awesome to watch, especially at night, but they proved dangerous to, uh, collaterals.

      Still looking into short range signal jammers.

        Old0311 in reply to Henry Hawkins. | July 22, 2013 at 5:00 pm

        The real answer is to build a “killer drone” of our own. Maybe one that would hover over the spy drone in flight and drop a load of cow manure on it. Now only would that bring down the government sky drone, but when the poop hits the fan, it will be widely scattered to fertilize the forest and meadows.

        Better yet, why don’t we pool our money (I have a dollar two ninety eight) and buy a surplus C-130? It could be our BS Bomber.

I do not think it is prudent to shoot at drones of any type, *however* I am deeply concerned about any unlabeled drone that might wander over my airspace without the owner seeking permission, and I plan on seeing just how a drone of my own might capture any obviously errant drones. (Errant defined as : Wandering over my ground without my permission)

Upon using my own R/C aircraft (which is what these are, in reality) to recover the obviously malfunctioning hardware and bring it safely to earth (‘Safe’ being a relative term defined as ‘It didn’t damage me or any of my property, so if a few parts come off it, I’m not concerned’), I will examine the remaining parts to see if the owner can be determined, and if so, I shall inform them of their lost property and the damages it has caused, and give them a bill for its proper return. If not, I shall inform the relevant authorities of the dangerous aircraft, and encourage them to seek out the miscreant involved and see them properly admonished for their anti-social activity.