Leave it to New Jersey to once again be on the wrong side of the gun debate.
In Lower Township, NJ, 32 year old Russell Percenti was arrested after shooting down his neighbors drone that was flying over his property taking photos.
It is bad enough that we have to suffer the Constitution shredding loss of privacy at the hands of the government, but now actively protecting high tech voyeurism when it trespasses on our very own property (500 feet above one’s property is acknowledged as that persons private air space) is a bitter pill indeed. Not surprising such a miscarriage of justice is taking place in New Jersey.
Allegedly, the flyer of the helicopter drone was taking photos of a friend’s house that was under construction, but that shouldn’t negate the fact that he was flying over other people’s property with a camera attached to a spy drone. If the, “I was only taking innocent pictures” excuse begins to hold weight, I can only imagine all the pedophiles and sexual deviants who were “accidentally” taking photos the leaves changing colors that just happened to capture the inside of peoples windows.
And it wasn’t as if Percenti lived in downtown Manhattan and shot his shotgun in the middle of the city, Lower Township is a relatively rural area with farmlands and open spaces. Considering the charges he faced were merely Possession of a Weapon for an Unlawful Purpose and Criminal Mischief I would suspect that he shot his shotgun in a safe direction. This is New Jersey after all and if the police had any cause to trump it up, no doubt they would have charged him with reckless endangerment, attempted murder and terrorism.
But no, this was simply a guy whose home was being trespassed by an unmanned drone taking photographs of who knows what. Are we supposed to just allow robots free range over our property? Trampling over the notion of private land and when they are attached with cameras, the notion of privacy itself?
Are we supposed to just welcome in a peeping Tom into our homes and have them take all the photos that they want?
I say the hell to that. Just because some tech geek doled out some big bucks to get a pricey spy drone helicopter with attached hi-def camera does not mean they get to fly it around like they are some 4 year old on Christmas morning unaware and uncaring about their surroundings. I’m glad that Percenti took that spy drone down with a shotgun blast. The fact that he was able to also indicates how low that drone had to be over his property.
But, instead of chastising the drone owner (who ironically has been able to remain anonymous), Percenti’s shotgun was seized and he was arrested. He is currently out on bail.
Unfortunately for Percenti, I don’t like his chances in New Jersey.
This is an issue bigger than the 2nd Amendment, this comes down to whether we have any claim to private property and by extension privacy to begin with.
Sure, the government has eminent domain and no qualms about spying on us…but does that now extend to every Tom Dick and Harry with too much time on their hands and a spy drone in their garage?
Until that is settled, I think it’s going to remain open season on spy drones…and I find myself ok with that. I chalk this one up to a real tale of self defense.
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