We need to talk anti-aircraft weaponry.
More and more so-called enthusiasts are sending drones into the sky. This means that more and more normal humans are becoming enthusiastic about shooting them out of the sky.
Especially, as in the case of William H. Merideth, the drone is hovering over your house.
Merideth, 47, lives in Hillview, Kentucky. As WDRB-TV reports, a neighbor heard gunshots and called the police. Merideth allegedly told the police that a drone was hovering over his house, where his teen daughter (he has two) was sunbathing. So he pulled out his gun and gave it a merry death.
The drone’s owner, police say, said he was flying it to take pictures of a neighboring house.
However, Merideth told WRDB: “Well, I came out and it was down by the neighbor’s house, about 10 feet off the ground, looking under their canopy that they’ve got under their back yard. I went and got my shotgun and I said, ‘I’m not going to do anything unless it’s directly over my property.'”
And then it allegedly was.
Merideth explained: “I didn’t shoot across the road, I didn’t shoot across my neighbor’s fences, I shot directly into the air.”
He says that shortly after the shooting, he received a visit from four men who claimed to be responsible for the drone, who explained that Merideth owed $1,800.
Merideth says he stood his ground: “I had my 40mm Glock on me and they started toward me and I told them, ‘If you cross my sidewalk, there’s gonna be another shooting.'”
There appears not to have been another shooting. However, Merideth was arrested for wanton endangerment and criminal mischief. There is, apparently, a local ordinance that says you can’t shoot a gun off in the city, but the police charged him under a Kentucky Revised Statute.
I contacted both the Hillview Police Department to ask for its view on proceedings. I will update, should I hear. However, an FAA spokesman told me: “Shooting at aircraft poses a significant safety hazard. An unmanned aircraft hit by gunfire could crash, causing damage to persons or property on the ground, or it could collide with other objects in the air. Shooting at an unmanned aircraft could result in criminal or civil charges.”
The FAA’s recommendations include not flying above 400 feet and “Don’t fly near people or stadiums.” The FAA adds: “You could be fined for endangering people or other aircraft.”
For his part, Merideth says he will sue the drone’s owners. He told WRDB: “You know, when you’re in your own property, within a six-foot privacy fence, you have the expectation of privacy. We don’t know if he was looking at the girls. We don’t know if he was looking for something to steal. To me, it was the same as trespassing.”