The Oregon House yesterday passed House Bill 3047, which explicitly expands the permitted use of drones in Oregon airspace and, according to the bill summary, allows the "use of unmanned aircraft system capable of firing bullet or projectile."
In previous sessions, acting on concerns that drones were invading people's privacy and potentially being used as weapons, Rep. John Huffman (R-The Dalles) sponsored legislation prohibiting the use of a drone "as a dangerous weapon."
But this session's bill, sponsored by Huffman, would loosen some of those restrictions, allowing drones that fire bullets or other projectiles, provided the user gives prior notice to the Oregon State Police and Department of Aviation. The bill sailed through the House by a 50 to six margin yesterday.
In earlier testimony before the House Judiciary Committee, proponents advanced a number of possible uses for drones firing projectiles—setting fires preemptively to help battle the state's increasingly common forest fires (a job now done with helicopters); propelling safety equipment or emergency supplies to people lost in the wilderness or trapped in burning buildings; inoculating cows; aiding arborists climbing trees; and controlling wildlife predators, such as wolves and coyotes.
"The presentation on the floor wasn't clear and when it looked like there was some potential to use these devices for hunting or predator control, I wasn't comfortable and voted 'no,'" Gomberg tells WW. "I spoke later to the sponsor [Huffman] and understand there's going to be an effort to address such concerns on the Senate side."