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Can I Shoot Down My Neighbor's Drone?

By Christopher Coble, Esq. | Last updated on

Ever since your neighbor got that drone for Christmas last year, he's been buzzing around your backyard and the rest of the neighborhood. Is there anything you can do about it? Now that they make a rifle that can shoot down drones with radio waves, can you take out your neighbor's annoying flying contraption?

While nothing would feel better than shooting that drone out of the sky, there are a few legal considerations you may want to think about first.

Private Property, Take One

The FAA is allowed to regulate the use of drones, and among their recommendations is that drone users stick to public property and steering clear of people. The FAA's suggestions for commercial drone use included a rule against flying over people.

In addition, there is no First Amendment right to drone surveillance. Therefore, any photos or video that your neighbor takes with the drone could be an invasion of privacy. There could also be local or state ordinances regarding nuisances or noise interference if your neighbor is flying his or her drone over your property continually.

Private Property, Take Two

While all of this sounds like you have the right to shoot down your neighbor's drone, don't go loading the shotgun just yet. Under common law, land owners owned the air above and the soil below their land, but there are exceptions to that rule, mostly state and federal laws prohibiting firing at aircraft. A New Jersey man who shot down a drone was arrested last year, and a California man had to reimburse the owner of a drone he shot down.

While it may be illegal to fly a drone near a stadium or the White House, current law doesn't make flying one over a neighbor's property illegal. Your best bet might be a civil conversation with your neighbor requesting that your yard be a no-fly zone. After that, you probably want to use radio frequencies rather than buckshot to bring down a drone. Owners that find their model aircraft destroyed may be more likely to press charges.

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