When Anwar al-Awalki and subsequently his son, both American citizens, were killed by drones while living in Yemen, the question raised was: will it happen in America? While it has not yet happened in the U.S., American drones continue to occasionally kill Americans overseas.
While he was attorney general, Eric Holder claimed that the U.S. government would not kill Americans with drones inside the United States but recent legislation in North Dakota smells like the first step. The North Dakota legislature has passed a statute allowing drones to argument police work with TASARs and tear gas. According to the The Daily Beast:
The bill’s stated intent was to require police to obtain a search warrant from a judge in order to use a drone to search for criminal evidence. In fact, the original draft of Representative Rick Becker’s bill would have banned all weapons on police drones.
Then Bruce Burkett of the North Dakota Peace Officer’s Association was allowed by the state house committee to amend HB 1328 and limit the prohibition only to lethal weapons. “Less than lethal” weapons like rubber bullets, pepper spray, tear gas, sound cannons, and Tasers are therefore permitted on police drones.
As a purported safety feature, the legislature added that the drone must satisfy “the requirements of the Constitution of North Dakota,” among other requirements. Read the January 6, 2015 North Dakota House Bill 1328 here.