(THE TENNESSEAN) Tennessee lawmakers are not known for creating gun restrictions: Earlier this year they discussed a slew of measures that ranged from making a sniper rifle the official gun of Tennessee to legalizing targets that explode when shot.
But a new bill would make it illegal for a private citizen to attach a gun, rocket launcher or any other similar weapon to a drone. It opens the door for law enforcement to use drones with weapons, though.
“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 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. Although drones are more commonly used across the U.S. for surveillance, Tennessee wouldn’t be alone if it allowed law enforcement to put weapons on drones.