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Guy who shot down drone actually makes a good point

A Kentucky man who shot down a drone that was hovering over his property points out both the need to fix the problem and what will happen if no one does.

Drone shot down shotgun over property
Credit: Don McCullough/Wikimedia Commons (CC BY 2.0)

The news here isn't that a guy in Kentucky shot a drone mid-air as it hovered over his backyard. At this point, that's not much of a surprise. 

What is notable, however, is the comments the shooter made after being arrested for the incident. 

William Meredith was charged with first degree criminal mischief and first degree wanton endangerment this past weekend after firing a shotgun at and successfully destroying an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV, or drone) as it hovered over his yard in Hillview, Kentucky, according to local news station WDRB.

Now, I can't endorse firing a gun off in the air, even though Meredith, in his comments to WDRB, seemed incredulous at the idea that it was illegal to do so over his own property (he clarified that he didn't shoot over any borders of his yard; city police did point out, however, that a local ordinance prohibits people from discharging firearms). I also can't abide by how he handled the ensuing encounter, in which he admits to threatening to shoot the four men (which seems a bit excessive) who showed up to inquire about the drone in question if they stepped foot on his property.

But the one valuable takeaway from this entirely predictable story is Meredith's blunt recognition of a need to do something about this issue:

"We're not going to let it go," he told WDRB. "I believe there are rules that need to be put into place and the situation needs to be addressed because everyone I've spoke to, including police, have said they would have done the same thing."

He further explained his suspicion that the drone was attempting to take video of his daughters in the backyard or even identify weaknesses on the property to exploit for burglary. For what it's worth, Meredith claims other neighbors had been dealing with the drone, including one who apparently said it "flew down low enough to see under the patio."

This is what every drone skeptic thinks, and what has led to other cases like this in the past. In one such case, which was settled in court earlier this summer and saw the shooter forced to pay damages to the owner of the drone, the neighbor shot down the drone before it even left the owner's property, citing a fear that it would take video of his family. That drone, as it turned out, wasn't even equipped with a camera.

In Meredith's comments above, the fact that "there are rules that need to be put into place" is just as important as his claim that everyone he's spoken to, police included, "would have done the same thing."

It's basically impossible to convince the public that drones are not designed to invade their privacy. And as long as people have guns, they will continue to fire at these drones when given the opportunity. Two years ago, a small town in Colorado considered issuing the equivalent of hunting permits that would legally allow people to shoot drones out of the air. This kind of situation is what a lot of people who buy guns are waiting for.

It may not be legal to shoot a gun at a drone, but as long as it's still legal to fly them into private property, that's not going to stop people from doing it.

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