I for one am hoping he wins.
It doesn’t seem like it should be that complicated. Whatever he’d be charged with if he’d shot his neighbor’s car, or his boat, or his $possession, charge him with that.
Shooting guns into the air, especially in a residential area, is stupid and dangerous no matter what the provocation.
“Normal” projectiles are prety dangerous. Lots of kinetic energy even at the end of a ballistic freefall. Shotgun pellets, not so, unless they are those big pellets, and even that is somewhat mitigated by their smaller weight and the poor aerodynamics (sphere vs ogive-nose cylinder) limits terminal speed.
At least I did not see a report of an injury by a freefalling pellet, but there are plenty for stray bullets.
What we need are non-firearm ways to take down a drone that don’t directly damage it, and have no possibility of damaging other property or injuring the innocent. I’m picturing some variant of a compressed air t-shirt cannon or a large ‘party popper’, loaded with short lengths of plastic filament, each with a small weight at each end. fill the air with a cloud of those, and any drone flying through will tangle its props and drop to the ground. Make the filaments of biodegradable plastic, weight them with lumps of biodegradable plastic. It won’t injure anyone it hits, it won’t leave lasting residue or damage property, and it won’t even do that much damage to the drone, just take it out of the sky.
Just blind it with a laser pointer. Bonus points for a galvo turret with automatic target tracking.
Edit: With a near-IR laser, nobody but the drone operator will even be aware of the countermeasure in action, nor will it endanger pilots of non-unmanned craft in case of target misacquisition (assuming sane power level of the laser). The disadvantage is that the invisible beam may be dangerous to yourself (no pupil/blink reflexes on a hit, and no visible beam to forewarn you) if you don’t have a reliable beam-active indication and enough awareness (e.g. not being drunk or too tired) to respect it.
I wonder if a CO2 laser (much more eye-safe, damages just the front parts that can be replaced if needed, and regular glasses are a good protection), the common 40-watt kind from cheap engravers, would be powerful enough to take a drone down at (say) 100 feet, assuming good target tracking… Would a common ZnSe or GaAs ebay-able optics be sufficient? (Todo: tests, but not before I’ll have to align the mirrors anyway.)
Falling shotgun pellets probably won’t kill you but they’re more than capable of creating huge welts, seriously hurting children, causing permanent eye damage (yes yes, “you’ll shoot your eye out”) or at least mess up the paint job on your car.
I found a couple of shotgun pellets embedded in the top of our home’s roof once when we were replacing the shingles. I suspect anything that falls fast enough to penetrate roofing shingles must be moving fast enough to do some non-trivial damage to people and property.
I was thinking of a pair of capture drones carrying a net between them, but that could work, too.
Edited to say:
I see @KarlS has the solution.
Would such a device come with free legal representation for the inevitable criminal charges and civil lawsuit for destruction of private property, endangering the public by causing things to fall out of the sky, etc? There are already laws that address illegal actions that might be taken by a drone owner. Vigilante actions against private drone operators who aren’t breaking the law are still just as illegal and unethical as vigilante actions against people wearing Google Glass.
I wonder if the guy was yelling ‘Take this Obama!!! Bill O’Reilly said you were coming to get my guns!!’ while he was shooting the drone?
Depends where the drone was. It could have been in his airspace (that is, over his property, below the height controlled by the FAA), in which case it changes things.
The problem with a laser is you have to specifically hit the optics, which would be a pretty delicate feat at drone-flying heights made more complex by the inability to see if you’re even on target.
I’ve been waiting for this issue to eventually rear its head, b/c ultimately it will also involve government drones, whether they be small ones like the one in this story and possibly used by your local PD, or larger ones used by gov’t.
Also, fwiw, I believe that during the OWS protests the police used a shotgun to shoot down a camera drone.
Up the beam power, increase beam divergence (or, if you want to get more fancy, use more lenses to increase beam diameter while keeping it collimated at the output - but an adjustable decollimator that keeps beam diameter at set number of inches at the target distance may be both easier and smaller/lighter) until probability of successful hit is high enough.
Then you have to get your net back.
How about a HERF gun?
If you spread your beam out enough to be sure of hitting it, would it still be powerful enough to be sure of frying the optics?
You need one of these systems.