Colorado is becoming a more interesting place by the day. First they legalize pot, and now one town may soon allow its residents to shoot down military drones for cash.
"Shoot Down Drones for Cash" sounds like some sort of Al Qaeda game show, but it turns out that it's actually a proposed law in the town of Deer Trail, Colorado. The ordinance, if approved, would enable citizens to "hunt" unmanned drones and cash in on their lightweight-metal corpses, reports Reuters.
Could a law like this really exist?
Rabbit Season Drone Season
A tiny community east of Denver, Deer Trail boasts a population of about 600 townsfolk -- one of whom came up with the idea of shooting down drones for cash. The proposed law would pay out "$100 to anyone who can produce the fuselage and tail of a downed drone," reports Reuters.
Although bounty hunting for drones is somewhat of a new development, it wouldn't be the first time that a state or local government offered a bounty to its citizens for eliminating dangerous entities.
Some states, like Maryland, have offered up to $200 to hunters to rid their wildlife areas of invasive species, Time reports. Similarly, it appears that Deer Trail wants to declare open season on "invasive" drones.
But First, Your Drone Hunting License...
Before you jump to conclusions about the rule of law in Deer Trail, realize that the proposed drone hunters would need a license first, reports Denver's KMGH-TV. The licenses:
- Would cost $25,
- Would not require a background check, and
- Would be issued anonymously.
Like Colorado hunters who want to track down big game, licensed drone hunters would also be restricted to 12-guage shotguns or smaller, reports Reuters.
That's good news for Deer Trail's citizens, as shooting revolvers into the air tends to be slightly more dangerous -- shotgun pellets coming down tend to be a bit less lethal.
Would the Ordinance Get Struck Down?
Aside from the idea that shooting down government drones might be at worst considered potential treason, it doesn't seem like any town -- even a charming one like Deer Trail -- would actually have the power to direct citizens to destroy U.S. military equipment.
Under the U.S. Constitution's Supremacy Clause, the federal government has supreme authority "in exercising any of the powers enumerated in the Constitution," including the powers to regulate the military. And that authority trumps state and local laws.
Some residents recognize this law as "tongue in cheek," reports Reuters, but maybe the prospect of a handful of stuffed drones and drone-skin rugs might change some minds before the law comes up for a council vote in August.
- Colorado Town May Let Folks Shoot Down Drones, What Could Go Wrong? (Wonkette)
- Police Use of Aerial Drones Raises Concerns (FindLaw's Blotter)
- Who's Afraid of Domestic Drone Strikes? (FindLaw's Law and Daily Life)
- The Drones Are Coming! But Not to Charlottesville? (FindLaw's Technologist)