18 U.S.C 32 states
... to include destruction of any aircraft in the special aircraft jurisdiction of the United States or any civil aircraft used, operated or employed in interstate, overseas, or foreign air commerce.
According to the FAA, drones fall under the category of UA (unmanned aircraft):
The US Federal Aviation Administration has adopted the name unmanned aircraft (UA) to describe aircraft systems without a flight crew on board. More common names include UAV, drone, remotely piloted vehicle (RPV), remotely piloted aircraft (RPA), and remotely operated aircraft (ROA).
Under these circumstances, it is illegal.
But do non-government/non-commercial drones fall under this category? (drones owned by the average civilian)
According to FAR 119-91C
Over other than congested areas. An altitude of 500 feet above the surface, except over open water or sparsely populated areas. In those cases, the aircraft may not be operated closer than 500 feet to any person, vessel, vehicle, or structure.
It's common to see people flying drones at lower altitudes than this.
So assuming that drones are considered aircrafts and fall under these laws...
If someone flew their drone under 500 feet over your property, would it be legal to shoot it down under a circumstance such as self defense? Could the shooter be charged under 18 USC 32?
To avoid potential gun laws from interfering with information gathering:
- What if an imitation firearm, such as a BB gun , was used?
- What if no firearm was used? (Take the drown down by hitting it with a towel or broom)
Feel free to include info relating to real firearm use (handgun, rifle, etc..), just know it's not what I'm truly asking about.