Missouri State Legislature is considering whether to create ‘no-fly zones’ for drones near the state’s prisons and mental hospitals. After incidents of drones being used to smuggle contraband into prisons, the state wanted to do more to give law enforcement the authority to apprehend and cite those violating the law. As drone smuggling incidents continue to happen, more states are seeking to ban drones near prisons.
St. Louis Cardinals Vice President and General Counsel, Michael Whittle, wants the bill to include open-air sporting venues with at least 30,000 fans. During the public hearing on Monday, April 1, 2019, Mr. Whittle asked lawmakers to include large open-air sports facilities to Missouri HB 324. Mr. Whittle’s proposal would include the Cardinals', Kansas City Royals' and Kansas City Chiefs' venues, and even the University of Missouri's football stadium.
Current federal law bans aircraft, including drones, near major sporting events. However, by making a state law, it would give law enforcement more authority to enforce it. During a public hearing Monday at the Missouri Capitol in Jefferson City, Whittle says the condition is also needed to keep spectators safe and to help prevent catastrophic mass casualties.
During the public hearing Mr. Whittle says about adding sporting venues to the bill, “it would be another tool that the FBI could use in enforcing and going after a really bad actor and even somebody that may fly over knowing that they are doing it. We would want to prevent that because of the people that are in the stadium. It could cause mass panic.”
“The mass casualties that could be caused by a drone being used in this manner against an open-air sports facility with more than 30,000 human targets would be catastrophic,” says Whittle.
If Missouri decides to add the stadium provision to the bill, they will join two other states - Delaware and Texas - that have their own state laws prohibiting drones near stadiums or events. Delaware prohibits drones over any sporting event, concert, automobile race, festival, or other events at which more than 1,500 people are in attendance. Texas specifically prohibits drones flying over “sports venues” with a seating capacity of at least 30,000.