One does not require the gift of prophecy to foresee the day when a man stands in his backyard and draws a bead on a drone aircraft.
It is inevitable, given the growing use of drones and the number of firearms in Alabama. If anything bad happens, it serves the drone right for trespassing.
Law enforcement agencies across the nation are trying to acquire drone aircraft equipped with surveillance cameras. Privacy advocates are protesting this trend by claiming the drones are a violation of privacy.
Some states are debating whether to require a search warrant for drone surveillance, and whether any evidence gathered covertly from overhead can be used in court.
Living among the well-armed and straight-shooting populous of Alabama, I have a few additional legal questions. If a drone flies over your property, can you shoot it down and claim you were just standing your ground?
If you kill it, can you have it mounted on the wall?
And if you pose from the tailgate of your pickup for a newspaper photo with your Remington automatic and trophy drone, can it be used as evidence against you in a court of law?
The U.S. Supreme Court will probably have to settle these and many other important issues as the use of drones becomes more frequent in American life.
Most of the news concerning drones has been about President Barack Obama’s power to order hits on enemy combatants. Because of this, Republican leaders in Congress should probably avoid Afghanistan and lawless sections of Pakistan until the next presidential election.
Beyond the military, we will see many recreational, commercial and law enforcement uses for drones as prices continue to drop.
One company is marketing a drone for less than $700. It comes equipped with a mount for a GoPro video camera.
These types of drones are about the size of a radio-controlled model airplane or helicopter.
Journalism programs at two major universities are experimenting with drones, according to Fast Co.
The University of Nebraska used its $25,000 drone, equipped with eight rotors and a camera, to document a record-breaking drought. The Federal Aviation Administration has not approved the use of drones in journalism, but observers expect it to happen.
I would like to have a drone for our newsroom to use for breaking news and inexpensive aerial photography. When I suggested this to our online department, one wiseguy said we already have enough drones in journalism.
Executive Editor Scott Morris can be reached at 256-740-5721 or firstname.lastname@example.org.