HARTFORD — The state is a step closer to becoming one of the first in the nation to ban armed drones.
The General Assembly’s Program Review and Investigations Committee voted unanimously this week in support of a bill that would make arming a drone with a deadly weapon, tear gas or explosive device punishable by up to 10 years in prison.
State Rep. Mary Mushinsky, D-Wallingford, a ranking member on the committee, said the bill is an attempt to “curb civilian and police use of unmanned aerial devices to carry guns, incendiary devices, tear gas or other weapons.”
Similar legislation was proposed last year. In 2014, the committee completed a study on drones that “anticipated the possibility a civilian might attempt to modify drones in a way that endangered their neighborhood, and sought to make such modifications illegal,” Mushinsky said.
Last year, 19-year-old Austin Haughwout posted a short video on YouTube of a drone with a handgun attached. In November, he posted another video of a flamethrower attached to a drone.
What Haughwout did wasn’t against state law or local ordinance, but would be a class C felony punishable by up to a decade in prison under pending legislation.
In February, Haughwout testified against the bill during a public hearing, stating that the weaponization of an aircraft doesn’t cause problems, “it’s the person’s use of it.”
The legislation will now be taken up by the General Assembly’s Judiciary Committee. Separate legislation that would establish procedures for the use of drones by local and state officials is still pending before the legislature’s Public Safety and Security Committee.