Texas Anti-Drone Legislation

February 9, 2013
Target Drone

72 Horsepower Military Target Drone

All around the nation it seems as if we are seeing a general awakening of the masses. A major portion of this can be seen in the calls for restrictions on drones being used here in these independent but United States of America. While it is certainly admirable, albeit a bit late to see so many people waking up to the increasingly militarized and potentially dangerous expansion of law enforcement power, care must be taken so as not to over react and take things too far in the other direction either. Recently, Fourth District State Rep. Lance Gooden introduced a bill that would be the toughest ban in the nation on the use of drones for all but very rare instances. Is it possible for a law like this to go too far in the opposite direction and actually become detrimental to the rights of the people as well as to those who would abuse their powers?

None of us want to believe that Law Enforcement agencies and their agents would willingly violate the constitution. Unfortunately, it does seem to happen on an increasingly level these days. That is a part of the reason that laws such as the one proposed by Gooden are needed. We certainly do not want the cops flying drones around to spy on people in their homes or in other locations where innocent civilians do and should continue to have a reasonable expectation of privacy. Still, if you think back to when traffic cameras came out, we were promised beyond any shadow of a doubt that they would only be used to monitor traffic. Those of us who warned others about the potential for the infringements on the right to privacy were openly scoffed at, mocked and accused of wearing our tinfoil hats too tight.

The same thing was said when we mentioned that they could easily be outfitted with the necessary equipment to automatically generate tickets and become scarcely more than revenue generators. Today, all of this has come true along with other consequences that today is seen as “just the way things are” and is perfectly normal and acceptable. People now laud them for being able to reduce crime rates and keep people safe. In fact, given the constant increase in revenue generated by traffic crimes and the failure of CCTV cameras to actually prevent any crime … and to even be highly contestable when used by prosecutors, we know that this is a blatant lie. These days they call us crazy because we point out that these continued infringements on our rights are not as effective as they should be, completely ignoring the fact that they are in fact admitting that these are an infringement on our rights but thinking it is okay.

This same type of argument could be used in regards to smoking laws, the so-called war on drugs, GE with zero taxes using American tax-dollars to close American plants and  build plants in China while our government makes incandescent bulbs illegal and on down the line. It is easy to see how people become mistrustful of an over-reaching and oppressive federal system. There is a very real cause for concern and somebody has to reinforce the fact that the tenth amendment, the second amendment, the fourth amendment and all of the other god-given rights that the Constitution prevents the government from infringing upon are still in place! Sadly there is every reason to believe that the legislation such as that proposed by Gooden needs to be put into place. But to what degree?

The legislation as it has been proposed, does look to be at least partially open to interpretation. Now granted, my opinion probably means about as much as yours when it comes to our representatives in office but my feeling is that if a law cannot be put forth clearly and concisely or if it is subject to arbitrary enforcement, it is not covered under the fair and equal clause and cannot pass constitutional muster. Unfortunately, we can all still be held to pay the price even for unconstitutional laws on the books and this is why bills like this tend to bother me some. Now I do agree to a degree that we need this legislation or some similar legislation to pass but it should be worded a bit better. As it stands, it looks like this legislation could be used to regulate and even restrict lawful citizens. Are there definitions of Drones or does it pertain to any remotely controlled airborne vehicle? I mean, how difficult would it be to prosecute the guy down the street who has spent thousands of dollars on remote controlled planes and enjoys taking films from the planes while he is flying. A quick review of YouTube will show that this is actually something that happens quite frequently. The legislature is not merely limited to federal law enforcement or even to law enforcement at all but extends to cover we the people. Unfortunately, as long as the line is not drawn specifically within the content and context of the legislation, it will continue to be subject to arbitrary enforcement and ultimately abuse. We are a nation of law and we depend on laws to keep our society relatively safe and civil. It is therefore all the more important that when laws are made, they are made so that they are fair and equal under clearly defined circumstances and not subject to interpretation as this current legislation is.


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Tags: Drone Laws, Drones, Police State

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