A new law makes North Dakota the first state to legalize the use of nonlethal armed drones by law enforcement officers.
The law permits the use of tear gas, beanbags, rubber bullets, pepper spray and stun guns — weaponry considered “less than lethal” -- as long as a search warrant is obtained.
State Rep. Rick Becker, the Republican lawmaker who sponsored the bill, said his intent was to ban the use of all weaponized drones but the law got changed before it was passed, making an allowance for nonlethal weapons.
Critics point out that more than three dozen people have already been killed this year by police Taser guns, and they say other weapons that are broadly classified as nonlethal can also lead to serious injury and death.
The Grand Forks, N.D., Sheriff’s Department has used drones in crimefighting — without weapons — since 2012.