Axon Drone Company Looking For Ways to Use Drones To Help Stop Gun Violence


For nearly 30 years, Dr. Michael Rodriguez has been studying the uniquely American gun violence epidemic as a public health issue at the University of California, Los Angeles. As the university’s co-director for the Firearm Violence Prevention Center, Dr. Rodriguex is considered an expert on the subject. In the wake of the recent mass shootings in Buffalo, NY, Uvalde, TX, and Tulsa, OK, Dr. Rodriguez said, “The danger of guns on the lives and welfare of children, adults, families, communities, is escalating with time. Thoughts and prayers have not done one single thing to prevent it.” When Academy Award winning actor Mathew McConaughey, a Uvalde native and gun owner, spoke before White House Press representatives he said that these horrific acts are somehow different this time, that for the first time Senators agree that action and change need to take place.

Rightfully enraged by the slew of mass shootings, Rick Smith, CEO and founder of public safety technology company Axon, proposed a radical plan. “Today, the only viable response to a mass shooter is another person with a gun,” Mr. Smith said. “In the aftermath of these events, we get stuck in fruitless debates. We need new and better solutions. For this reason, we have elected to publicly engage communities and stakeholders, and develop a remotely operated, non-lethal drone system that we believe will be a more effective, immediate, humane, and ethical option to protect innocent people.”

Axon’s idea was to develop a 3 part drone program. The first part would integrate Axon body, dash, and aerial cameras for real time situational awareness. The next phase would provide emergency responders with Axon’s comprehensive Virtual Reality Simulator Training program. And the third part would be the development of what Axon calls “a miniaturized, lightweight TASER payload capable of being deployed on a small drone or robot.” Not surprisingly, the concept of a drone with a taser on it met a ton of backlash. The possibility of drones being weaponized is a concept that has held back their development in the US. 9 out of 12 members of Axon’s Artificial Intelligence Ethics Board resigned over the controversy.

Needless to say, Axon has halted the development of a drone enabled taser. However, the rest of Axon’s plan, an integrated camera network and in-depth training exercises, is quite sound. On June 9, 2022, the Tuscaloosa SWAT team ran such exercises using drones at the Northridge Middle School in Tuscaloosa, AL. As explained by Major Heath Clark, it is the lack of situational awareness that makes facing an active shooter so daunting. “One of the hardest things you can do is try to drive someone out of a building that’s barricaded, and they have an advantage on you,” Major Clark said. “This gives us the best ability to see, to go in and see the best approach and entry to establish communication.”

As Matthew McConaughey said in his impassioned speech, Americans right now are finally in agreement, regardless if they are pro or anti gun ownership. They agree that gun violence has gotten out of control with more than 200 mass shootings in the last 6 months. Change needs to take place on many levels so that people can feel safe. “We are in a window of opportunity right now that we have not been in before,” McConaughey said. “A window where it seems like real change, real change can happen.” True, a weaponized drone should not be a part of the solution, but drones could definitely help emergency responders effect change.


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