Is It OK to Shoot Down Your Neighbor’s Drone?

First of all, damaging any flying robot is a federal crime. It doesn’t matter if it’s crashing your pool party or watching you in your skivvies through the skylight in your master bath.


“In my ​legal opinion,” says Peter Sachs, a Connecticut attorney and publisher of Drone Law Journal, “it is never okay to shoot at a drone, shoot down a drone​,​ or otherwise damage, destroy​ or disable ​a drone, ​or attempt to ​do so. ​Doing so is a federal crime.​”


But in the eyes of the law, a drone is a full-fledged aircraft, and deserves the same kind of respect. Here’s what federal law (18 USC § 32) has to say:


What does that mean for you? If you attempt to gun down a flying robot, you could face those two decades in the slammer, and/or a fine of up to a quarter of a million dollars. So, legally speaking, shooting a drone could be the same as trying to damage a chopper or a 747. “Aircraft” is a pretty sweeping definition, it turns out, and it could work in drones’ favor.


(a) Whoever willfully—(1) sets fire to, damages, destroys, disables, or wrecks any aircraft in the special aircraft jurisdiction of the United States or any civil aircraft used, operated, or employed in interstate, overseas, or foreign air commerce;…shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than twenty years or both.



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