Re: Bullit County
All in all congratulations to the judge. For once USA law is not an ass.
A drone is a piece of equipment, not a person. The only issue at stake in its destruction is property rights. It's far less of a moral issue than shooting at a person, even at a person clearly threatening violence. The maximum penalty should be the replacement cost of the drone paid to its owner, plus administrative costs to the law. (And in my book the drone owner ought to be on the hook for those administrative costs if his complaint is not upheld).
It's right that the law considers whether discharging a shotgun (upwards) in a built-up area presented any significant threat to the population at large. I'm no expert but I think not. Shotgun pellets won't be dangerous when they fall back to earth (unlike much heavier bullets, especially ones discharged only slightly upwards from the horizontal). So, no public safety issue.
So what needs to be decided is the relative rights of a landowner over whose territory a drone is hovering, and rights of the owner of that drone. I think they've got this right. A drone hovering at low altitude over my land is invading my privacy, and there's no practical way to remove it that's nondestructive. So blasting it ought to be allowed. (Incidentally what's the upwards range of a shotgun? )
At a later date maybe there will need to be a statutory definition of hovering versus flying across, and an altitude below which a non-hovering drone is not allowed to cross private property without consent. But even after that's in place and someone blasts a "legal" drone, I'll go back to my original point. It's a piece of equipment. Maximum penalty = reasonable replacement cost. Damage to its owner's ego - tough!