In a political loop-the-loop, a bill in North Dakota originally intended to limit the power of police drones actually permits unmanned aerial vehicles to use rubber bullets, pepper spray, tear gas, sound cannons, and Tasers.
An investigative report published on the via The Daily Beast by Justin Glawe states that a draft of HB 1328 first banned all weapons on law enforcement drones.
But then Bruce Burkett of the police lobby group North Dakota’s Peace Officer’s Association was allowed to amend the bill — which was signed into law in April — to allow drones to carry “less than lethal” weapons.
One might suggest that there is something insidious about putting weapons in the hands of easily replaceable robots. Police officers know that they if they make a mistake, they might die. Drones, by contrast, do not. Where is the in-built check on their deployment?
The author of the bill is worried:
The bill, originally drafted by Rep. Rick Becker, puts military technology into the hands of civilian law enforcement, a concern that Becker himself voiced back in March, reports Glawe.
“This is one I’m not in full agreement with. I wish it was any weapon,” Becker said at a March hearing. “In my opinion there should be a nice, red line: Drones should not be weaponized. Period.”
Agreed. But let’s put the tactical questions to one side for a moment and ask the obvious question, which is: Why do government officials in North Dakota need anti-rioting drones in the first instance? “Rubber bullets, pepper spray, tear gas, sound cannons” are all tools for fighting back against violent, unruly, implacable crowds. When was the last time that North Dakota hosted anything of the sort?