In a statement issued on May 18, the president and chief executive officer of the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI) Michael Toscano responded to recent comments by media pundits and television programs that seem to advocate shooting down domestic unmanned aerial vehicles.
The coming wider use of UAVs in the U.S. has drawn protests from privacy and civil rights advocates because they say it is intrusive and possibly dangerous. On May 16, syndicated newspaper columnist and Fox Television commentator Charles Krauthammer called for a ban on the vehicles and intimated that others with similar beliefs will shoot the aircraft down and become heroes.
“I would predict — I’m not encouraging, but I would predict, the first guy who uses a Second Amendment weapon to bring down a drone that’s hovering over his house is gonna be a folk hero in this country,” said Krauthammer on a May 14 panel on Fox New’s Special Report.
According to AUVSI, a recent episode of NBC’s television show “Harry’s Law” also portrayed its main character shooting down a “drone” in just such a situation.
Toscano called such talk irresponsible and that vigilante approaches to the vehicles could have dire unintended consequences.
“To advocate for people to shoot down any object from U.S. airspace is irresponsible, dangerous and unlawful,” he said, noting the technology is also being used to serve the public good, helping in search and rescue, as well as emergency response. “The myriad of important uses will be imperiled if they become targets,” he said.
“Meanwhile, the suggestion that Americans take up arms against unmanned aircraft also endangers citizens on the ground,” he said.
Toscano said his organization welcomes “civil discussions” on privacy and the use of the aircraft.