Due to a push from a powerful lobbyist, it is now officially legal for police in North Dakota to fly drones armed with less-than-lethal weapons, such as tear gass, rubber bullets, tasers, and pepper spray.
House Bill 1328 started off more innocently: Its original intent was to require police to have a warrant before using drones to search for criminal evidence. In fact, the it prevented law enforcement from weaponizing police drones. But when a pro-police lobbyist got his hands on the bill, the power of the police was taken up a notch.
It’s surprising that this topic is hardly being discussed, especially not in most news outlets.
It was Bruce Burkett of the North Dakota Peace Officer’s Association who amended the original bill to include arming drones with anything that was not lethal. Inside Washington and even in North Dakota this topic is causing quite a bit of controversy. Citizens, especially, are worried about what this new technology will mean for the everyman on the street.
The fact is that non-lethal weapons can kill. According to The Guardian, at least 39 people have been killed by police Tasers in 2015 so far. Bean bags, rubber bullets, and flying tear gas canisters have maimed, if not killed, people in the U.S. and abroad.
The main argument against the law, at least within North Dakota’s circle of lawmakers, is that when you have people manning these drones from afar, it depersonalizes the experience of attacking a person. This is what worries people the most, and with good reason.
With so many people against this bill, it’s shocking that it’s now officially law in one state. Only time will tell if other states will follow suit.
Tell us what you think about this new law that’s passed. Do you think the same will hold in other states soon. If so, do you support it or oppose it? Let us know your thoughts below.