Drones are a clear and present danger to the well-being and future of the United States.  The Federal Aviation Administration is rushing to pass regulations of drones within the next thirty days so that drones can be under your Christmas tree.  Frankly, we should immediately have a moratorium on drone sales until we can have a complete plan to regulate them.  Over the top Christmas gifts can wait. 

Drones have already landed near the White House and disrupted power lines in California.  Drones have interfered with forest fire fighters in the West, and disrupted aviation at airports.  Drones could be used by terrorists to spray poisonous gas over stadiums, attack government facilities with bombs, even dirty nuclear bombs, and we would be helpless to stop the perpetrators or even to find out who they are. 

How we can regulate drones

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Thankfully, the Second Amendment does not protect drone ownership.  We should treat drones like we treat cars and drivers, but with more control.  Drones are more dangerous than cars and trucks because they fly, and they can fly great distances quickly. 

First of all, drones must be registered at sale, and given a unique number like a license plate.  Secondly, in order to purchase a drone, you must be a licensed drone pilot.  Licensure would require a written test, fingerprinting, a psychological test and a practical test to show that you know how to fly them.  Mostly importantly, you must have a good reason to own a drone:  aerial photography, security, crop monitoring or some other valid purpose. 

Who will administer this program?

The Federal Aviation Administration has some of the knowledge necessary to handle a drone registration program, but it does not have the personnel to do it.  Congress should act to establish an agency, possibly within the FAA, to handle licensing, registration and enforcement. 

Registration and licensing fees should be set at a reasonable level to pay for the program.

Who should be able to own a drone?

Drones do many things particularly well and efficiently.  President Obama has used them to assassinate Islamist extremists.  We don’t want them used by domestic terrorists for similar purposes. 

Owners of drones must have an acceptable reason for using them.  Aerial photography is one good reason.  Package delivery may be a valid reason, but I have my doubts that Amazon really needs to deliver your carry-out order by drone.  Farmers can monitor their crops with drones and factories can keep an eye on intruders with this new technology. 

Now anybody can buy a drone on the Internet without any registration or licensing.  This is sheer madness.  Do we need a terrorist incident to wake up to the potential deadly harm of drones?  I hope not.  Let’s seize the moment and halt drone sales until we can get a handle on how to regulate them.

Joseph is chairman of the Made in the USA Foundation.