Drones are being used across the U.S. more and more every year for a growing number of constructive purposes. These include shooting videos for TV news and entertainment programs, filming for movie companies, photographing wedding ceremonies, monitoring crop growth, and supporting search and rescue efforts.
However, drones or other unmanned aerial systems can pose a threat if they are controlled by terrorists, criminals or others who wish to do harm. For example, terrorist groups like ISIS are using them to carry out attacks and conduct reconnaissance overseas.
Here at home, criminals are using drones to smuggle drugs across our borders and surveil law enforcement. The FBI upset a plot to turn drones into weapons to attack the Pentagon and Capitol. The security threat from drones is constantly evolving as the technology becomes even more accessible and affordable across the globe.
Public gatherings are also vulnerable to bad actors who can deploy dangerous unmanned aerial systems. Just last month, two drones rigged with explosives targeted Venezuelan dictator Nicolas Maduro. It simply takes the will and little skill to turn a drone into a deadly device.
We must keep pace with our enemies’ evolving tactics to protect the American people and keep our homeland safe.
How prepared are we to deal with weaponized drones? Simply put, we are not, because our laws are not keeping up with today’s threats. More specifically, our government lacks the necessary legal authorities to close glaring security gaps to counter certain unmanned aerial systems.
Constantly evaluating and adapting our technology and defenses to that of our adversaries is the best way to address new challenges to our national and homeland security. That is why Congress should immediately provide the Trump administration with changes in law it needs to better protect Americans from this very real danger.