“Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.”
Aggressive force is like water. It travels the path of least resistance. The less resistance aggressive force faces, the greater the tendency of aggressive force to rush in. The government, the state, the coercive enterprise, applies aggressive force often to influence the action of others, even influencing the action of others who have done no harm to anyone else.
A friend of mine, one who identifies himself as being in the Libertarian range of political views, recently shared a link to a story about an “Isis Fanatic” that had planned on using a drone to crash into a US Air Force plane.
Turkish police arrested Renad Bakiev, a Russian national, and self-identified (according to Turkish Police) ISIS member, right before he was about to use a drone to
attack a US Jet coming out of Incirlik Air Force Base.
According to the Turkish Independent News Agency, Dogan, Turkish police made the decision to arrest Bakiev after surveillance showed him apparently scouting the area around the base in preparation for his attack. He also planned drone assaults against a nearby community of people called Alevis, whom ISIS has identified as heretics.
The story itself brought up some concerns by my friend about the current state of affairs of US law regarding drones. My friend stated, in regard to this story, “This is a bigger problem that we realize. Incredible drone technology products are now sold virtually everywhere to anyone, are inexpensive and only going lower in price with better features. HD camera’s to record, spy, track and able to deliver weapons and bombs. They should be BANNED and not available past a certain technology threshold to the public and limited to use on personal property only.”
I’m not picking on my friend. But his response to drones and the potential threats they represent is not unique. It’s a sentiment I have seen from a number of people, a sentiment that seems to cross the boundaries from the progressive side of the American political spectrum to the Libertarian side of the American political spectrum.
I have no doubt, knowing my friend as I do, that he believes he is taking a pragmatic approach to a problem within the framework of the reality of power around him. He is weighing out the need for security with the need for individual liberty. And here, he is deciding that security needs are more pressing than liberty needs.
One of the sources of his frustration lies in the fact that the FAA will not “allow” you to shoot down a drone if you feel that drone is threatening you, even if you know for a fact that drone is being used to film you on your property.
From Forbes :
‘According to Loretta Alkalay, an aviation attorney who teaches Drone Law at Vaughn College of Aeronautics and Technology, the statute also prohibits interfering with anyone “engaged in the authorized operation of such aircraft” and carries a penalty of up to 20 years in prison. Since drones are considered aircraft, threatening a drone or a drone operator, according to Ms. Alkalay, would also be a federal crime subject to five years in prison under this same statute.’
So, on one hand the FAA won’t restrict drone use, but on the other hand, the FAA might very well criminally prosecute you if you shoot down a drone that is spying on you or otherwise menacing you. Let’s be clear, when we say “criminally prosecute,” we mean that they will send out armed people to threaten to shoot you (first implicitly, then, if needed, explicitly) if you do not ‘voluntarily’ come with them to face ‘prosecution’ for daring to defend your home.
Now, let’s go back to the story that triggered my friend’s response. This story had nothing whatsoever to do with a person using their drone to spy on another person’s property. This story was about using drones to do violent things.
On a show I do with another friend of mine (who goes by Professor Rambo on the show), Full Auto, we’ve discussed some of these security issues. Drones can be used to assassinate people. They can bomb places. And yes, they can be used to attack planes, including commercial airliners. No one can deny that drones present security issues.
First, I would like to address the potential dangers of drones becoming weapons in the hands of bad actors, be they ‘criminals,’ ‘terrorists,’ angry actors exacting revenge, or homicidal maniacs that just want to kill as many people as they can.
I will address this issue by using the gun debate as my starting point. The argument against assault-style weapons being legal is that madmen can get a hold of these weapons and kill a lot of people in a short period of time. Why would you not want to at least have some common-sense gun laws that prevent madmen from getting guns?
This is reasonable, right? All we have to do is have some laws that don’t allow crazy people to get dangerous guns. I’ll come back to this point in a little bit.
Of course, if you’d rather not try and deal with the mess of figuring out just what defines a crazy person, or a madman (or woman, or other-gendered madperson, for that matter), then you can just support banning those types of guns altogether.
This position seems to be the one that my friend is taking. Rather than even attempting to look at categories of people who can have the type of advanced drone technology that would make such dangerous weaponization possible, my friend is essentially supporting the idea that only ONE class of people be allowed to have that advanced level of drone technology, and those people would be agents of the government, the state, the coercive enterprise.
Let’s address the threat issue that my friend seems to worry about. How likely are you, really, to be the victim of a mass shooting or even a terrorist attack? Here is an interesting perspective on the risk of being involved in a terrorist attack in America today, from Business Insider:
‘According to a September 2016 study by Alex Nowrasteh at the Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank, some 3,024 Americans died from 1975 through 2015 due to foreign-born terrorism. That number includes the 9/11 terrorist attacks (2,983 people) and averages nearly 74 Americans per year.
Since 9/11, however, foreign-born terrorists have killed roughly one American per year. Six Americans have died per year at the hands, guns, and bombs of Islamic terrorists (foreign and domestic).
“I once asked a guy at [the National Institutes of Health] how much we should spend on preventing a disease that kills 6 per year, and he looked at me like I was crazy,” John Mueller, a foreign policy expert at the Ohio State University and co-author of the book “Chasing Ghosts: The Policing of Terrorism”, told Business Insider in an email.’
How about being a victim of a mass shooting? Well, again, the hype about the security risk may be a tad overblown.
‘So at a conservative estimate there have been 5 mass shootings in the U.S. this year: San Bernadino (14 dead), Oregon (10 dead), Charleston (9 dead), Chattanooga (5 dead), and Colorado (3 dead). Of the 5 shootings, 2 are related to Islamist terrorism, 2 to what I would consider right-wing extremist terrorism (Colorado and Charleston), and 1 (Oregon) to who knows what craziness. By this reckoning, this year, there was a 40% chance of a mass shooting being related to Islamist terrorism, and 46% of the people killed in mass shootings were killed by Islamist terrorists, but still more people were killed by non-Muslim white American men than were killed by Muslims.
That’s a large percentage, but of a tiny number of events, and by these standards my odds increase significantly and I have a 0.00000013% chance of being killed in a mass shooting, and a 5.89389322e-8% chance of being killed by a Muslim terrorist…’
To be sure, drones prevent security challenges, but do they represent a fundamental risk to Americans? Based on the statistics above regarding mass shootings and terrorist attacks, I’d say the answer is definitively no.
So, for the sake of a minute risk to his security, my friend is essentially advocating for depriving everyone else the ability to access the same technology he sees no problem allowing agents of government, the state, the coercive enterprise to access. He is, in essence, in favor of increasing the state’s monopoly of power over all of the people who are not agents of government, the state, the coercive enterprise.
I am going to go back to the scenario I painted above (about the need to at least have common-sense gun laws keeping dangerous guns out of the hands of madmen). If my friend were to retreat to a position not to outright ban technology, but to limit who can get it, then my friend is advocating for empowering the state to define what a madman is, what a dangerous person is.
I would rather risk being confronted with a madman with a gun than empowering the government, the state, the coercive enterprise, and its state agents that give it the power it has, to define what a madman is. For today, the madman is someone I clearly recognize as mad, but tomorrow, I am the madman because I don’t express views that the state defines as ‘normal.’
The second part of my friend’s concerns lies with people flying drones over your property to invade your personal space. As the laws exist today (see the link above to the FAA story), the government, the state, the coercive enterprise, will protect the drone owner over the property owner.
Shooting down a drone could trigger an armed response by the state to ‘encourage’ you to peacefully go along with proceedings that could end with you being kidnapped and caged while the drone operator goes free. In other words, the state will utilize aggressive force to significantly influence your actions.
Of course, I am NOT in support of people using drones to spy on me. I am also NOT in support of ‘laws’ that create a significant threat deterrence against my potential choice to meet the drone threat with force. But, being against laws that prevent one action of individual liberty shouldn’t then trigger you to suddenly support the creation of other laws that prevent actions of individual liberty.
Life, my friends, is competition. Sometimes, that competition is dangerous. Any potential power to limit individual action that you grant to the domain of the government, the state, the coercive enterprise, exits the free and open exchange of competition and becomes an artificial monopoly on action, as enforced through a monopoly of power that the state holds over you.
When most Americans think of the 2nd Amendment, they think of guns and nothing else. While I don’t derive my natural human ‘tendency’ to prefer to protect myself from threats of force (no matter who or what is threatening me) from anything written on a piece of paper, MANY of the people (my friend included) now advocating for some form of government regulation of drones are defying the very standards they ostensibly support when they fall back on the 2nd amendment as their source for the “right” to “bear arms.”
The 2nd Amendment is ostensibly not so much about being able to own and carry guns, it’s more essentially about the “right” to defend yourself from ALL threats, foreign, domestic, non-government actors, state agents, etc.
To defend yourself in the year that this article is being written, 2017, there are MULTIPLE tools that will enable you to do so, tools that will equip you to meet the threat posed by the tools that aggressors would now use against you, including drones.
I have little doubt that a market that is not checked by laws and regulations intended to protect ideologies, fear of competition, or fear of safety, will provide answers to the threats posed by these very tools, tools that, most assuredly, a monopoly of power will have no qualms using to do far more than simply secure you from minuscule risks to your safety.
These same tools that you now support be placed only in the hands of the government, the state, the coercive enterprise, will also be used to control you, to spy on you, to target you should you fall outside of the realm of the normal, the acceptable, and enter into the realm of what THEY will define as a dangerous person, a madman.
Essentially, by supporting the further monopoly of power by the government, the state, the coercive enterprise, you are supporting easing resistance to aggressive force that the government, the state, the coercive enterprise might potentially use against you for far more than merely protecting you from wanna-be spies and terrorists.
No, I do not prefer the false security of state control. No, I do not prefer tilting the balance of power even more in favor of the coercive enterprise at the expense of individuals and free associations.
I began this article by describing one aspect of the reality of power, that aggressive force is like water, it follows the path to least resistance. Supporting limiting access to drone technology is supporting the creation of less resistive paths for aggressive force to sweep through.
It is far better for me to have the power to choose to equip myself to deal with potential threats to my security and fail in that effort than to give the government, the state, the coercive enterprise, even greater advantage to apply aggressive force against me even when I have not harmed another person.
To put it another way, let me quote Thomas Jefferson, who said, “I prefer dangerous freedom over peaceful slavery.”