NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A video showing a gun firing from a drone has prompted legal questions as well as fears around the country.
Authorities are worried there is nothing they can do to stop it, CBS2’s Dick Brennan reported Thursday.
As the video shows, the light-weight drone is sophisticated enough not only to generate enough force to fire four times, but also to withstand the firearm’s recoil, all while staying in flight.
Its creator is 18-year-old college sophomore Austin Haughwout, and he’s no stranger to drone controversy. Last year, after he flew a drone over a public beach, an angry beach-goer attacked him.
The latest video was taken on Haughwout’s family’s property and as of Thursday afternoon had been viewed more than 2.5 million times on YouTube.
Haughwout explained his drone project to CBS by email, saying, “I am going for a degree in mechanical engineering and this was an application of the technology that I have access to and education provided by my university.”
That university is Central Connecticut State.
Haughwout’s father, Brett, said his son built the drone with help from a professor at the school.
But a university spokesman disagreed, saying engineering professor Edward Moore “actively discouraged” Austin Haughwout from building it, saying it was “simply too dangerous,” Brennan reported.
“That drone, the way it was used in the video, did not violate any current statues on the books in Connecticut,” Clinton Police Sgt. Jeremiah Dunn said. “It’s a case of technology surpassing current legislation. Legislation not keeping up with the technology that’s out there.”
Mike Bouchard is a retired assistant director at the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. He said he fears drone gunfire could leave no trace.
“There would be no physical evidence. Perfect crime. This can turn into a video game for sick people,” said Bouchard, who works for Security Dynamics Group. “They can play this out like a video game on their computer and just shoot people without ever looking them in the eye.”
Austin Haughwout agreed to an interview with CBS News about his drone, but then abruptly changed his mind in the wake of national media scrutiny, Brennan reported.