State Assembly committee advances bill to ban operation of drones equipped with weapons

If the bill became law, it would mean 18 months in prison and/or a $10,000 fine for someone who violates it.

Matt Trapani

Jun 16, 2023, 12:38 AM

Updated 365 days ago

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A state Assembly committee advanced a bipartisan bill that would make it a crime to operate a drone equipped with weapons.
If the bill became law, it would mean 18 months in prison and/or a $10,000 fine for someone who violates it.
The bill would prohibit drones from being equipped with an anti-personnel device. This is defined as “a firearm…or any other projectile designed to harm, incapacitate, or otherwise negatively impact a human being.”
The bill specifically restricts civilian drones operated by individuals or businesses. That presumably leaves a loophole for law enforcement officials or drones operated by the United States military.
The American Civil Liberties Union declined to comment on the issue. But in a 2013 paper, the ACLU expressed concerns over law enforcement using drones.
The organization stated at the time that police drones could be used to carry tear gas, rubber bullets or tasers. Law enforcement drones have been used to find missing people or examine flooding.
The bill approved in committee in Trenton on Thursday has been on the docket for nearly nine years. It has never received a full vote to become a law.
It is already illegal in New Jersey to use a drone to endanger someone. Former Gov. Chris Christie signed a bill in 2018 that made it a crime to operate a drone under the influence or to use one to hunt wildlife.
The bill would make operating a drone that utilizes an “anti-personnel device” a fourth-degree crime - the lowest-grade state version of a felony.


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