As originally drafted, HB 1328 prohibited all weapons on drones, but an amendment changed the language so that only lethal weapons were banned, allowing rubber bullets, tasers and pepper spray, according to a report in the Daily Beast. Instead, however, police now have authorization to deploy drones armed with a number of non-lethal weapons, including tear gas, Tasers, rubber bullets, and more. “Then a policy lobby group was allowed to amend the bill, though, at which point it only banned lethal weapons, writes The Daily Beast“. “In my opinion there should be a nice, red line: Drones should not be weaponized”.
Police, in turn, were dissatisfied with the initial bill that had been introduced to limit their surveillance powers by requiring them to obtain a warrant from a court before deploying a surveillance drone.
The authorization of non-lethal weapons on drones in North Dakota, which is the first US state with such legislation, comes amid growing concerns about excessive police powers in the US and fears of increasing threats posed by drones. In fact, it imposes a requirement that cops get warrants before using them. According to Fox News, the farmer, Rodney Brossart, refused to let police on his property and ignored orders to appear in court.
Thanks to the passage of Bill 1328, police will be able to equip these drones with weapons incapable of killing, The Verge reports.
Palmer said the state aims to be the “Drone Capital of America”, and if recent events are any indication, North Dakota may be on its way to that title. This makes North Dakota very attractive to drone manufacturers, and local businesses want to keep it that way.
Law enforcement officials who support drones-and initially opposed the bill restricting their use-said the flying machines aren’t being used for criminal investigations. “We just thought the whole thing was ridiculous”.