The aerial drones in Virginia may be gone for now, but the two-year moratorium approved by the Virginia General Assembly on Thursday may just be the political cover necessary for Virginia’s politicians to brush off criticisms and enact this horrendous idea in the future.
The House of Delegates, usually a bastion of conservatism in Virginia, incredibly passed the moratorium bill on Wednesday. The Senate passed the House amended moratorium bill by an even more incredible 40-0 vote. No dissension!?
According to the sponsor of the moratorium bill, Del. Benjamin L. Cline (Augusta), “We hope that the governor will also share our support for a breathing period to get some rules in place.” Notice that Del. Cline talks about putting “rules in place,” not about whether the idea of aerial drones is even a good idea in the first place. Apparently, most members of the Virginia General Assembly have already made up their minds that aerial drones patrolling Virginia’s skies are a good idea.
But aerial drones have drawn opposition from politically diverse groups like the American Civil Liberties Union and the Tea Party Patriots Federation, just to name two. Each side of the political spectrum represented by these groups are rightfully concerned about the overuse or misuse of aerial drones.
Rutherford Institute President John W. Whitehead had this to say about the use of aerial drones, “No matter where one stands on the issue of drone use domestically, it is clear that we need to take a well-reasoned approach to how drone technology will be implemented and what safeguards are necessary to ensure that Americans’ safety, privacy, and civil liberties are not jeopardized.”
All Virginians and all Americans should be concerned about the domestic use of aerial drones. It is practically a law of government behavior that if a technology can be used to spy on its people, it almost certainly will at one point or another. And I don’t mean just individuals who are breaking the law; I mean peaceful and non-lawbreaking Americans whose only misdeed is attempting to uphold the letter of America’s Constitution.
At the last peaceful environmental rally I attended, D.C. Police were taking pictures of the throngs of rally-goers. Why? Why does law enforcement spend so many of our taxpayer dollars on surveying Americans who simply wish to express their freedom of speech? Is this a crime now too? If police can so blatantly photograph (and implicitly intimidate) peaceful rally-goers, what will they do with aerial drones!?
Aerial drones may decrease crime rates and/or increase the amount of criminals who are caught and the time it takes to catch them. But aerial drones could also be one more piece in the arsenal of our country’s growing police state, an arsenal that can be unleashed on the American people to infringe on our natural and civic rights. That is a potential cost that outshines any potential benefit I can imagine from the use of aerial drones.