Axe murderers know that axe murder is illegal


Right now, drones are in the news because they're fucking everyone's holiday plans at Christmas. The people responsible have made their point, and they should quit whilst they're ahead but that doesn't seem to be part of the plan.

Self-serving though it may seem, I want to talk about this from the perspective of your friendly neighbourhood amateur drone pilot. Whenever I put my drone in the sky, I observe the Drone Code. These are guidelines set out to make sure that you're not endangering any bystanders whilst flying your drone, and they're basically common sense. Don't fly over crowds or buildings, don't fly near airports, keep your drone in line-of-sight, don't fly too high. Easy.

The problem that pilots are going to encounter in the coming months and years is a villification in the press and the law. I get it. And whilst I am all for legislation and registration, it doesn't solve the problem.

A conscientious pilot flies within the rules, but we're not dealing with conscientious pilots here. Laws aren't going to stop what's happening at Gatwick. You can build an agile, untraceable, operable-at-a-long-distance drone capable of halting a flight for under £500. My understanding is that the people holding up Gatwick this week are flying sophisticated drones and they know what they're doing. They know the rules and they're ignoring them, in the same way that people who exceed speed limits know what they're doing, and axe murderers know what they're doing. Legislation only affects people who adhere to the law in the first place.

The solution to this problem isn't better legislation, it's better counter-measures. There will always be people who ignore the law, and we can't simply say "damn, this action isn't illegal enough".

The people operating at Gatwick are toying with law enforcement because law enforcement is powerless. The people at Gatwick have a plan. They're smart and they're organised.

At best, I have enough battery to last an hour on my drone, and that will land me an unlimited fine and a 5 year sentence if I decide to fuck around. The people at Gatwick know this and they've found a loophole. They're saying "what are you going to do?!" to the police and the army and the police and the army have got nothing.

The police and the army need to get something easily-deployable and with minimal collateral damage fast because this problem isn't going away until they figure it out. The people on the controls aren't going to go "oh shit 10 years let's all stop forever!". They're making a point and that point is we're weak here. Even if the immediate problem goes away, the threat remains until we're ready to handle it wherever it occurs.

Law enforcement needs to see this as an opportunity because we're all lucky that these drones aren't weaponised. Every day people posture about threats at our airports and borders, but this week we have a threat and no-one's able to do anything about it. Yes, the travel inconvenience should piss you off, but the vulnerability should scare you. Legislation is not the solution here. Protecting people, forgetting political egos and doing something is the correct course of action and someone had better realise and get on it soon before people who mean to do real harm start showing up.