What started off as an after-school project for one Connecticut teenager is the now the focus of an investigation by local and federal authorities. Austin Haughwout, 18, built a homemade multi-rotor drone with what appeared to be a Kel-Tec PMR-30 pistol mounted onto it. A video of the drone firing the gun remotely quickly racked up over two million views on YouTube, but it also attracted the attention of Haughwout’s neighbors in the town of Clinton, and law enforcement agencies as well.
“We are attempting to determine if any laws have been violated at this point. It would seem to the average person, there should be something prohibiting a person from attaching a weapon to a drone. At this point, we can’t find anything that’s been violated,” Clinton Police Chief Todd Lawrie told CNN.
You can see the original video below:
It is certainly not the first time that a homemade “gun drone” has surfaced, or even the first time that one has appeared on YouTube. However, device’s simple construction and viral reach may bring trouble for the college student, who reportedly is studying engineering at a Connecticut university. The teen’s father, Brett Haughwout, told NBC News that the drone was built and flown on private property, and that he and his son researched extensively beforehand to make sure they would not break any laws.
The Clinton Police Department seems to agree and so far cannot find any state or local laws prohibiting the practice, but says it will continue to investigate into the matter.
“If it’s being discharged in an area where it could be legally discharged, right now there’s no legislation that prohibits it,” Clinton Sgt. Jeremiah Dunn told NBC.
Despite the opinions of local law enforcement, federal agencies like the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), and Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) are looking into the story behind the video.
“The FAA will investigate the operation of an unmanned aircraft system in a Connecticut park to determine if any Federal Aviation Regulations were violated. The FAA will also work with its law enforcement partners to determine if there were any violations of criminal statutes,” FAA spokesperson Jim Peters said in a statement.
Former FBI assistant director Tom Fuentes, now a law enforcement analyst, said the gun drone may constitute a form of reckless conduct.
“Do we want drones out of control that could land who knows here? We could have a child pick up the drone, pick up the gun, and accidentally kill themselves. I see the whole thing as reckless conduct,” Fuentes said.