Police in North Dakota may now legally deploy drones equipped with Tasers and tear gas.
In ironic betrayal of a bill’s original intent, HB 1328 authorizes law enforcement to weaponize drones and use them against citizens, provided that the weapons are “less than lethal.”
The measure, originally drafted by state representative Rick Becker, called for tight regulation on the use of the unmanned aerial vehicles by police and for protection from their misuse against citizens and the Constitution.
In 2012, Becker, a plastic surgeon then serving his first term as a legislator, proposed a bill to the North Dakota state legislature looking to limit the use of drones by law enforcement, including a provision that completely banned the weaponizing of the devices.
Despite the legislative restrictions he sought to impose on the use of the drones, Becker explained that he wasn’t trying to offend police, but to defend the Constitution.
“It’s a new technology that has really amazing capabilities and can be used in excellent ways for our communities. I don’t want to say that drones can’t be used,” Becker said. “But with the new technology there are also issues, primarily privacy issues, which can come into play.”
That was how the bill was written, but that wasn’t the bill that was ultimately presented to and passed by state lawmakers.