Something Special In The Air

February 9, 2013

A pilot sitting safely in a bunker in Virginia, or North Dakota or any one of 64 other drone bases on American soil   -spends his shift remotely flying a robot plane around a sky some place far, far away. Like Iraq, or Turkey, or Los Angeles (ok, not yet, but maybe soon). The tedium of watching his monitor and flying his robot is broken when he identifies a target of interest. The game scenario is digital for him. But in real life, thousands of miles away it is playing out. He locks on his target. Kaboom. Something is really blown up. Someone is really dead.

Drones are big in the news these days.

Predator Drone

As high tech – low cost flying observatories spying on friends and foes alike – or as flying robot soldiers/killing machines, drones are becoming the airborne platform of choice. And the technology is still in its infancy.

Drones are evolving constantly – getting better, smaller, and cheaper.

Right now, the action is all over-seas. Flying surveillance or kill missions where it is too costly in lives or treasure to send in the Marines or spies.

And drones seem to work if you listen to our government, “neutralizing” whole branches of alleged terrorists (and an occasional innocent bystander or two) or gathering “intelligence” that affects US foreign policy. Opponents think drones have become a major source of anti-American sentiment and a rallying cry for US opposition.

Never mind the small issue that they occasionally get hacked (they couldn’t be turned against us,could they?).

Or the legal and political issues around killing foreign nationals in their own sovereign country with which we are not in a declared state of war – and what the US would do if some lower tech country  decided to fly a drone into our airspace and eliminate a couple American citizens who might be outspoken enemies of their particular state doctrine on our soil.

But we don’t really need to understand or worry about that stuff, right?

Well, as I mentioned, Drones are getting better and smaller. And Cheaper. They will probably come to a Walmart near you soon. Here’s a small one for sale today on Amazon. You could find other sources of more professional drones easily.

Lots of local, state and federal agencies are buying them, for domestic surveillance, just  waiting for a chance to jump on the drone bandwagon. The only thing that seems to be holding back the floodgates is that the Feds don’t quite know how to regulate these things in our airspace.

You can see the attraction. It would be cheaper for law enforcement in Southern California to use drones rather than helicopters to patrol From the Mountains to the Desert. And I am sure the Border Patrol, Drug Enforcement Agency, FBI and… well, any agency with any imagination, could save a few bucks flying these instead of choppers or airplanes.

And I haven’t even thought about all the private sector uses. Like monitoring highways, or livestock, or pipeline networks, or a real estate agent photographing your property.

And after that – the paparazzi might get them for watching Justin Bieber or stalking the mayor, or your neighbor might get one to check out  your daughter sun bathing in the privacy of your back yard. Or your local neighborhood watch might get one to keep your gated community even safer. And… well you get the point. They go anywhere. Virtually undetected. They can carry cameras, or weapons, or lord knows what to lord knows where. Like this prototype of a sophisticated killing machine not yet on the market.

All of which got me to thinking.  Does the Second Amendment give me the right to buy a stinger missile or anti-aircraft battery? Purely for self defense, of course.

 

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