Ride the Lightning

Cybersecurity and Future of Law Practice Blog
by Sharon D. Nelson Esq., President of Sensei Enterprises, Inc.

Flying Taser Drones at Schools is a Terrible Idea

June 9, 2022

The Washington Post reported (gift article) on June 6 that police-contracting giant Axon recently proposed that flying Taser drones would be pre-installed in school ceilings, allowing an officer to launch one within seconds of receiving a shooting report. The drones would be piloted through special vents into locked classrooms, stunning the gunman with shock darts and issues commands such as “Stay down or you will be hit again.”

The proposal has now died a quick death after a mass resignation of Axon’s own ethics advisers, who called the proposal a crackpot dystopian fantasy that could militarize schools and hurt children. Understandably, they worried about stunning students or the abuse of the drones by hackers, vandals or the police.

Even if deployed as proposed, they wouldn’t be enough to put a gunman out of commission.

The ethics board members who resigned said the drone had “no realistic chance of solving the mass shooting problem Axon now is prescribing it for, only distracting society from real solutions.”

“Before Axon’s announcement, we pleaded with the company to pull back,” the members said. “But the company charged ahead in a way that struck many of us as trading on the tragedy of the Uvalde and Buffalo shootings. … [It] is more than any of us can abide.”

Read the article for more information about this and other proposals by Axon, which seemed to me to be working hard on very profitable technology that avoided the issue of gun laws entirely.

Commentators on Reddit offered scalding comments, worried that the drones would be misused to punish students, break up fights or police protests – and the unintended shooting of more people after a gunman was stunned. Concerns were also raised that such technology might result increased use of force in over-policed communities and communities of color.

The Federal Aviation Administration banned anyone from flying a drone with a dangerous weapon attached in 2018. But Axon suggested that “legal limitations” could be resolved over time.

Flying Taser drones are simply a terrible idea for all the reasons given above. And this is the first time I’ve seen an ethics board at a company take the extreme measure of resigning from the board. I applaud their action.

Sharon D. Nelson, Esq., PresidentSensei Enterprises, Inc.
3975 University Drive, Suite 225Fairfax, VA 22030
Email:   Phone: 703-359-0700
Digital Forensics/Cybersecurity/Information Technology