[Rushtalk] Five Reasons Armed Domestic Drones Are a Terrible Idea

Carl Spitzer lynux at keepandbeararms.com
Sat Sep 19 12:18:37 MDT 2015

For a bunch of liberals the ACLU has good points here.

Five Reasons Armed Domestic Drones Are a Terrible Idea

        By Jay Stanley – ACLU – August 27, 2015

The Daily Beast has reported that North Dakota has enacted a drone bill
that permits law enforcement drones to be equipped with weapons such as
Tasers, rubber bullets, tear gas, and sound cannons. This is a terrible

Having attended numerous drone meetings and conferences in the past
several years attended by a broad array of industry, law enforcement,
and other government representatives, I can confidently say that there
is a broad consensus that armed domestic drones are beyond the pale.
With the exception of one sheriff in Texas who mused about arming drones
several years ago, the concept is never even seriously discussed in the
drone community. Several states have already enacted flat bans on
weaponized drones (examples include Oregon , Virginia, and Wisconsin).

Although there are plenty of states that have not passed drone
legislation at all, and some states have enacted legislation that makes
no mention of the arming of drones (such as Florida, Tennessee, and
Utah), the North Dakota bill is different. While it does explicitly ban
the arming of police drones with “lethal weapons,” it remains silent on
so-called “less-than-lethal weapons.”

Here’s why arming drones, even with less-frequently-lethal weapons, is a
such a bad idea:

     1. Drones make it too easy to use force. When domestic law
        enforcement officers can use force from a distance, it may
        become too easy for them to do so, and the inevitable result
        will be that these weapons are over-used—just as surveillance
        tools, having become so cheap and easy, are widely overused.
        Tasers were originally sold as an alternative to guns—and who
        could dispute that getting an electric shock is better than
        getting a bullet? Yet we know that Tasers are routinely used by
        police officers not as a last-resort use of force, as guns are
        supposed to be, but as a torture device to get truculent
        suspects to comply with police commands through the application
        of pain—and all-too-often, as a way of punishing citizens for
        the crime of “dissing a cop.”
     2. “Nonlethal” weapons aren’t actually nonlethal. So-called
        “nonlethal” or “less-than-lethal” weapons should be called “less
        lethal” weapons because they do kill. Tasers regularly kill
        Americans—39 people so far in 2015, according to the Guardian,
        and comparable numbers each year going back to 2001 according to
        an Amnesty International report on the technology, which also
        found that 90% of those killed with Tasers were unarmed.
     3. Distance=inaccuracy. Even when officers are physically present,
        fully immersed in a situation—with 360-degree vision and all of
        their other senses in play—we know that force is often
        over-used. When officers are not physically present, their
        perception of a situation and their judgment about when to apply
        force is more likely to be flawed, non-targets are more likely
        to be injured, and excessive amounts of force are more likely to
        be applied. And the drones themselves may be inaccurate due to
        wind, communications and control problems, or other factors.
     4. This will open the door to increasing weaponization. If we allow
        less-lethal weapons to be deployed on drones, how long will it
        be before the door is opened to fully lethal weapons. Already
        the Pentagon has developed a small (under 6-pound) lethal
        “kamikaze” drone called the “Switchblade,” which functions as a
        pint-sized guided missile. The Army is reportedly considering
        spending $100 million on such drones under a program called the
        Lethal Miniature Aerial Munition System.
     5. It will only increase the militarization of police. The heavily
        militarized response to the protests in Ferguson and so many
        other places around the country have been bad enough; imagine if
        the police there were permitted to fill the skies with drones
        raining beanbag bullets, Tasers, tear gas, and sound cannons
        down on protesters.

This bill does impose restrictions on police use of drones for
surveillance, which is a good thing, and initially, it banned all
weapons on drones. The ACLU supported the initial version of the bill.
But the weaponization provision was altered through last-minute lobbying
by the state’s police association.

Just because police departments in North Dakota have been given
permission by their legislature to fly armed drones does not mean that
they need to do so, or will. Indeed the strong national consensus
against doing so may hold them back until hopefully this anomalous
legislation can be reversed.

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