Militarized Drones?

Advancing Colorado has advocated against red light cameras for months. We believe with bribery, dangerous surveillance implications, and increasing revenue under the guise of “safety,” red light cameras have become an extra arm of the police state and Gangster Government.

Enter North Dakota. This year the state legalized militarized drones. The law began as a bill to ban the use of all weapons on drones, but lobbyists successfully changed the bill to permit “less than lethal” weapons.

Drones can’t have machine guns, but they can be outfitted with tasers, tear gas, pepper spray, and rubber bullets. However, these “less than lethal” weapons are sometimes very lethal. As of 2013, Amnesty International reports that tasers are responsible for over 540 deaths in just over a decade, including 40 people this year. Tear gas can cause severe physical harm, including death. Rubber bullets also cause severe physical damage (pictures are unsettling), and is responsible for some — but few — deaths.

Over the past few years, the media has reported on many cases of police abuse, harassment, and murder — some without any weapons. This new law permits police to not only outfit a surveillance drone with “sometimes lethal” weapons, but also to escape culpability for any harmful or lethal action by an “unmanned aerial vehicle” (UAV).

Car company Audi recently released a commercial featuring drones (shown below). Reminiscent of Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds, this commercial shows a dystopian world full of drones swarming around an office building. The clearly fearful workers are told, “Just stay calm and move as quietly as possible […] No sudden movements.” The people immediately sprint toward their cars, and the drones follow. They begin to dive toward the humans, breaking glass barricades and scaring the workers. The Audi car escapes the UAVs, of course, and the drones run into each other, walls, and phone lines. The commercial ends, “Advanced technology doesn’t have to be intimidating.”

But militarized and weaponized drones are intimidating. Giving these weapons to law enforcement is not only a terrible idea for civil liberties but also an awful idea for safety. When red light cameras are not enough, the next step is militarized drones. Gangster Government is at it again.

Rep. Rick Becker, sponsor of the original bill that prohibited all weapons told the Daily Beast, “In my opinion there should be a nice, red line: Drones should not be weaponized. Period.”

We agree.