FAA warns against shooting at drones

WASHINGTON — 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 FAA 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.

Deer Trail resident Phillip Steel, 48, author of the proposal, said he has 28 signatures on a petition — roughly 10 percent of the town’s registered voters. Under Colorado law, that requires local officials to formally consider the proposal at a meeting next month. Town officials would then have the option of adopting the ordinance or putting it on the ballot in an election this fall, he said.

The proposed ordinance is mostly a symbolic protest against small, civilian drones that are coming into use in the United States, Steel said. He acknowledged that it’s unlikely there are any drones in use near Deer Trail.

“I don’t want to live in a surveillance society. I don’t feel like being in a virtual prison,” Steel said. “This is a pre-emptive strike.”

He dismissed the FAA’s warning. “The FAA doesn’t have the power to make a law,” he said.

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