The alleged assassination attempt on Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro carried out by two drones has opened up the conversation on how to control weaponized drones. Jason Snead, a political analyst at conservative think-tank the Heritage Foundation, detailed in a new article the alarming truth about the threats Americans face from weaponized drones. Under current law, it is illegal for law enforcement and private citizens to shoot down a drone that is being used to cause harm.
According to Snead, as drones continue to proliferate, the counter-drone needs of American law enforcement and national security agencies will only grow. Congress has recognized the problem and, in the 2017 and 2018 National Defense Authorization Acts (NDAAs), afforded limited counter-Unmanned Aircraft System (CUAS) authority to the Departments of Defense and Energy, but more must be done. First, Snead argues, Congress should build on its approach in the 2018 NDAA by extending counter-drone authority to federal law enforcement agencies. Second, he said, Congress should broaden this authority to ensure that all effective counter-drone technologies may be used, notwithstanding other provisions of law, to defend appropriate federal assets and facilities within these agencies’ jurisdictions. Addressing federal CUAS needs is a critical first step, he wrote, but these authorities should also be extended to state and local law enforcement agencies, as they will ultimately bear the brunt of defending the public from drone-related threats.
“The Islamic State and other terror groups have weaponized commercially available drones in Iraq and Syria, and officials long have warned that it is only a matter of time before those dangers migrate from the battlefield to domestic skies.” Snead said. “It seems that day may have arrived, which means it is past time to finally empower U.S. law enforcement agencies to protect the public from this new airborne threat.”