North Dakota — Nothing says “police state” quite like unmanned aerial vehicles patrolling the sky ready to deploy 80,000 volts to the nearest protester or dose entire crowds with chemical weapons.
The idea of weaponized drones has long been a dystopian, yet fictional idea. However, thanks to House Bill 1328, in North Dakota, this police state hell from above is now a horrid reality.
Thanks to a police union lobbyist, the idea of police using drones for “less than lethal” weapons is now written into North Dakota law.
According to the Daily Beast,
The bill’s stated intent was to require police to obtain a search warrant from a judge in order to use a drone to search for criminal evidence. In fact, the original draft of Rep. Rick Becker’s bill would have banned all weapons on police drones.
Then Bruce Burkett of North Dakota Peace Officer’s Association was allowed by the state house committee to amend HB 1328 and limit the prohibition only to lethal weapons. “Less than lethal” weapons like rubber bullets, pepper spray, tear gas, sound cannons, and Tasers are therefore permitted on police drones.
The term “less than lethal” is thrown around to make tasers, which have been responsible for hundreds of deaths since 2001, seem like they are okay to be deployed on infants.
The reality is that “less than lethal” weapons are only slightly less lethal than the real thing. Now that these weapons will be put on drones, entire new safety concerns arise, such as accuracy and the simple issue of a drone falling into a crowd.
After being duped by the police lobby into passing a bill allowing cops to equip drones with weapons, Rep Becker is worried. He spoke up about police deploying these weapons when they aren’t near the intended target.
“When you’re not on the ground, and you’re making decisions, you’re sort of separate,” Becker said. “Depersonalized.”
One need only look at the Middle East and the thousands of innocent women and children who’ve been slaughtered by US drones to imagine the grim reality of such legislation.
Law enforcement and their union lobbyists are assuring lawmakers that drones would only be used in non-criminal situations, like a missing person case or for photographing crime scenes. This begs the question of why they would need such ominous legislation if they say they’ll never use it?
According to Keith Lund of the Grand Forks Regional Economic Development Corporation, laws like this one are to combat restrictions in drone development to create jobs.
North Dakota has been hit hard by the oil bust, and more drones equal more jobs.
“It’s really all about the commercial development, which is where all of this is heading,” Lund replied. “If [a law] is somehow limiting commercial, law enforcement development… that is a negative in terms of companies looking and investing in opportunities in the state of North Dakota,” Lund said, according to the Daily Beast.
It’s not only weapons attached to drones that are raising issues in the state either. Police and their lobbyists are putting up a big fight to allow the use of drones for spying without a warrant.
“Requiring a search warrant for surveillance is ‘restricting development?’” asked Rep. Gary Paur, a Republican, at a hearing.
It seems that corporate and state collusion, at the expense of the people’s liberties, doesn’t even have to happen behind closed doors anymore.