While Tennessee’s Legislature is not known for putting new restrictions on guns, a recently-filed bill would prohibit attaching a firearm to a drone, reports The Tennessean.
“It is an offense for any person, other than a state, federal, or local law enforcement agency, to knowingly attach or affix a weapon to an unmanned aircraft or to use an unmanned aircraft that the person knows has a weapon attached or affixed to it,” the bill states.
Filed by Rep. Daniel Byrd, R-Waynesboro, the measure (HB1456) comes several months after video of a gun-toting drone went viral. The video, created by an 18-year-old Connecticut man, shows a handgun firing off shots while attached to a drone that’s hovering several feet off the ground.
Byrd’s bill would make it a class E felony to attach any kind of weapon to a drone. In this context, weapon includes Tennessee’s legal definition for “firearm” and “explosive weapon.” Tennessee law defines explosive weapons as items like bombs, grenades, mines and Molotov cocktails.
Those prohibitions don’t apply to law enforcement…In August, North Dakota became the first state in the country to legalize weaponized drones for law enforcement. The weapons must be “nonlethal,” but that still allows attaching weapons such as Tasers to drones, reports USA TODAY.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The state Senate has voted to ban drones from recording images above ticketed events with more than 100 people in attendance.
The bill sponsored by Republican Sen. Jack Johnson of Franklin (SB509) passed on a 33-0 vote on Thursday. Johnson said the measure had been requested by the NFL’s Tennessee Titans to prevent drones from flying over the team’s Nashville stadium during games.
The Senate bill also includes a ban on drones flying over correctional facilities or through fireworks displays. Those elements requested by the state sheriffs’ association and fire marshal’s office are not in the House version of the bill that passed on a 93-2 vote on Monday.
That means the two chambers will have to reconcile their difference before the measure can head for the governor’s consideration.
HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (AP) — A consortium of companies and universities in Alabama and Tennessee are hoping to develop a site where drones would be tested.
If approved, the facility could become one of only a half-dozen sites approved by the Federal Aviation Administration for research involving Unmanned Aerial Systems, more commonly known as drones, the news site Al.com reported (http://bit.ly/1fuinSF ).
Alabama and Tennessee have submitted a joint application in an effort to be selected as one of the six FAA UAS testing sites. Testing would be done at a site near Savannah, Tenn., in the southwest part of the state.
Plans call for each of the FAA sites to be used to develop methods and systems to integrate UAS flights into the nation’s airspace. The emphasis will be on commercial uses for drones, ranging from precision agriculture to environmental monitoring.
The joint application involving both states came about after Alabama originally submitted a stand-alone application with plans to locate the testing site at Redstone Arsenal, a U.S. Army Post in the Huntsville area. However, FAA regulations state that the testing facilities can’t be part of any existing federally owned property. Continue reading →
Legislation putting restrictions on law enforcement use of drones was revised by House-Senate conference committee on the final day of the 2013 legislative session, then approved by both chambers and sent to Gov. Bill Haslam.
Differing versions of the “Freedom from Unwarranted Surveillance Act” (HB591) had been approved earlier by the House and Senate. The final version, approved late Friday, declares that drones can be used by law enforcement only when a search warrant has been obtained with four exceptions:
To “counter a high risk of a terrorist attack by a specific individual or organization” identified by the Department of Homeland Security.
When the law enforcement agency “possesses reasonable suspicion that, under particular circumstances, swift action is needed to prevent imminent danger to life.”
To “provide continuous aerial coverage when law enforcement is searching for a fugitive or escapee or is monitoring a hostage situation.”
To “provide more expansive aerial coverage when deployed for the purpose
of searching for a missing person.”
The House version earlier had contained a provision allowing use of drones “to protect life and property during crowd monitoring situations,” which proponents at the time said would cover crowds during University of Tennessee football games. That was deleted in the final version.
The bill’s sponsors were Rep. James “Micah” Van Huss, R-Jonesborough, and Sen. Mae Beavers, R-Mount Juliet. They said the final product strikes a balance between allowing use of drones where needed for a legitimate purpose and avoiding governmental intrusion.
Tennessee currently has no statute dealing with drones, which are expected to become more widely used in the near future. The bill does not address use of drones by individuals or corporations, but the sponsors said they may propose legislation on that topic next year.
The House and Senate both unanimously approved Thursday a bill that sets rules Tennessee law enforcement agencies’ use of unmanned aerial surveillance aircraft, better known as drones.
As approved by the Senate, the bill (SB796) says that drones can only be used to search for a fugitive or a missing person, in monitoring a hostage situation or when a judge issues a search warrant authorizing them. Any information gathered otherwise by a drone cannot be used in court and must be destroyed within 24 hours, the bill says.
The House added an amendment saying they can also be used “to protect life and property during crowd monitoring situations.” In debate, crowds and traffic during University of Tennessee football games was cited as an example of where drone monitoring might be desirable.
The Senate will have to approve the House amendment before the bill goes to the governor for his signature.
Sponsors of the bill – Sen. Mae Beavers, R-Mount Juliet, and Rep. James “Micah” Van Huss, R-Jonesborough – said there is no law on the books in Tennessee dealing with drone surveillance, but one is needed with projections that thousands will be deployed in the years ahead.
Van Huss said he worked with drones while serving with the Marines in Iraq and Afghanistan.
“I know that drones are a very effective tool in fighting against the bad guys and I do not want them to be a very effective tool in infringing on the personal liberties of my constituents and Tennessee citizens,” he said.