A Connecticut teen has added a handgun to a drone, creating a weapon that can be fired remotely -- and police say it appears to be perfectly legal.
Austin Haughwout, 18, posted a clip online showing the drone firing four shots, which triggered a police investigation.
But police in Haughwout's hometown of Clinton say they can't find anything to charge him with.
"It would seem to the average person, there should be something prohibiting a person from attaching a weapon to a drone," Clinton Police Chief Todd Lawrie said in a statement cited by WTNH, the ABC affiliate in New Haven. "At this point, we can't find anything that's been violated."
At least one law enforcement expert believes reckless conduct charges could apply in this case.
“What if the drone gets beyond the distance of the radio control?” Tom Fuentes, a former assistant director of the FBI, told CNN Wire. “Do we want drones out of control that could land who knows here? We could have a child pick up the drone, pick up the gun, and accidentally kill themselves."
Brett Haughwout, who is the teen's father, told WFSB, the CBS station in Hartford, that his son made the drone-weapon with help from his professor at Central Connecticut State University.
However, a professor at the university disputed that, telling the Hartford Courant that it was a "terrible idea."
"I discouraged him," Edward Moore, an assistant professor who teaches a class called Manufacturing Engineering Processes, told the paper. "I tried to give him the same advice I would give my kids."
Haughwout's father told NBC Connecticut that the gun belongs to him and said his son did "extensive research" to ensure it didn't break any laws.
"Homemade multirotor with a semi-automatic handgun mounted on it," the description on YouTube reads. "Note: The length from the muzzle to the rear of the frame is over 26"."
The reference to the length may be an attempt to comply with federal law governing overall length of rifles, should the gun as modified be considered as such.
While local police say there may not be a law against the drone-gun, Haughwout may not be in the clear just yet. CNET reports that the FAA is also investigating.
"The FAA will investigate the operation of an unmanned aircraft system in a Connecticut park to determine if any Federal Aviation Regulations were violated," the agency told the website. "The FAA will also work with its law enforcement partners to determine if there were any violations of criminal statutes."
That comes as welcome news to at least one drone advocate.
“Drones should be used for good, not for evil,” Peter Sachs, who is an attorney, told ABC News. “There are countless ways that drones can be useful. Using one as a remote-controlled weapon is not one of them, and I question the judgment of anyone who would attempt to do so.”
Haughwout made headlines last year when he was allegedly assaulted by a woman who claimed he was using a drone to photograph her.
However, video showed that Haughwout was just taking aerial shots of the beach.
Andrea Mears, then 23, was charged with third-degree assault and breach of peace. However, the charges will be dropped if she completes two years of probation, according to the New York Post.
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