The Eastern New Mexico News - Serving Clovis, Portales and the Surrounding Communities

Why no droning on about drones?


Ned Cantwell

Were you surprised the 2014 New Mexico legislative session dragged to a finish without one word about killing drones?

I know I was.

Legislators talked on and on and on. They continued a three-year debate on education policy, an argument that continues to ignore the reality no system on earth will work unless early childhood problems are addressed.

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There was just a lot of speech making. People are said to speak 16,000 words per day. That means our 112 New Mexico legislators uttered 53,760,000 words during the 30-day session. That’s 53 million words. Not one about the need to kill drones.

Oh, sure, they talked about killing coyotes. Poor Wile E. Coyote. There are contests to kill him. I mean, a guy will go out and kill 234 coyotes and they give him a trophy or something. Hey, ain’t I special.

Granted, coyotes cause problems for ranchers. But have you ever heard of a coyote, even a pack of them, shutting down a national monument? A drone did. For a whole week.

White Sands National Monument shut down in February when a plane-size drone out of Holloman Air Base crashed there. This was a big drone. There are big ones and small ones and who knows what they are up to? Surveillance, one could surmise.

Now, I don’t have any inside information and I don’t need the National Security Agency knocking at my door. Truth is, though, I think all of our New Mexico bases have these surveillance planes monitoring what we are doing. They listen to us.

Roberta and I frequently have occasion to travel through the spooky Holloman and White Sands Missile Range area and we always talk in Pig Latin.

“Iway inkthay erethay aymay ebay away onedray onway ourway oofray.”

“Utshay upsay andway ivedray!”

This drone thing is getting out of hand. Amazon is talking about delivering packages to customers by drone in less than 30 minutes. Whoa. We can wait two days for our new toaster.

Colorado wants to do something about this. The enlightened town of Deer Trail, population 500, is going to have a vote April 1 when voters — no April Fools’ joke here — will decide if the town should issue $25 permits to anyone who wants to shoot down military drones.

Furthermore, the registered hunter would be given $100 if he presents “identifiable parts of an unmanned aerial vehicle whose markings and configuration are consistent with those used on any similar craft known to be owned or operated by the United States federal government.”

Good for you, Deer Trail! Drone shooting supporters have cleverly packaged the movement as a tourism draw linked to our personal freedom. The town will attract fun-loving, gun-toting surveillance haters who will certainly spike business at the local Dairy Hut.

As you might imagine, the fuddy dud spoil sports at the Federal Aviation Administration are actually opposed to drone hunting. They claim shooting at an unmanned aircraft is an actual crime. With actual punishment.

Also, although FAA didn’t say it, one wonders if those drones might shoot back.

The petition authorizing the Deer Trail April 1 vote was challenged but subsequently approved by a District Court judge, a decision about which the town clerk “felt pretty dang good.” I would think “pretty dang good” is an understatement.

There appears to be little enthusiasm in the rest of Colorado for the Deer Trail drone hunting experiment. In fact, ever since they started smoking dope, those folks don’t seem enthused about much at all.

“Like, man, that drone just flew away with your little brother!”

“Cool, dude.”

Avehay away icenay ayday.

Ned Cantwell — [email protected] — sits on his roof with a slingshot.


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