Last month, Texas Republican Congressman Michael Burgess introduced the No Armed Drones Act, a bill that would “amend the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012 to establish prohibitions to prevent the use of an unmanned aircraft system as a weapon while operating in the national airspace system.”
Burgess described his intention behind the bill in a comment on his Facebook page, which said, “Arming a surveillance drone for day-to-day domestic law enforcement is blatantly an over-the-top show of force. Rest-assured, I will continue fighting to ensure that, before the FAA approves a single drone for local policing or our federal agencies create a surveillance state full of citizens who constantly look over their shoulders, we as a nation have the opportunity to choose liberty in this dynamic age of innovation.”
Congressman Burgess called for the bill’s passage in an op-ed in The Daily Caller, noting the fact that “local police agencies across the country are increasingly requesting FAA approval to deploy drones.” He continued, “Most could have reasonable intentions, but some departments are seeking to arm drones with tear gas, rubber bullets, and other riot control-like projectiles… The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) is entertaining the idea of deploying drones with drug sensing capabilities. Meanwhile, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) directly contradicts their own mission statement by carrying out drone strikes abroad.”
Burgess referred to the matter as a “constitutional issue, not a partisan one” and said, “Our founders laid the foundation for a society where the use of military tactics by agents of our justice system really has no place. In that context, I believe that free citizens are innocent unless proven guilty, and that they aren’t to be treated as suspects, or terrorists, while going about their everyday lives.”
The No Armed Drones Act would allow the Secretary of Transportation to establish exceptions to the ban on armed drones for recreational hunting, animal control, and national security purposes.