In a new ad for Matt Rosendale’s campaign in Montana, the candidate shoots down a “government drone” in order to prove the point that Washington is too big and that it needs to get out of the lives of the average citizen. He starts the ad by showing a view from a government drone of him standing and then continues to shoot down the drone. He says that “spying on our citizens, that’s just wrong.” He then commits to “stand tall for freedom and get Washington out of our lives.” The ad has certainly garnered attention and dives into a topic of controversy of the use of drones.
As a “government drone” hovers over Matt Rosendale, the Republican House candidate from Montana tells the camera what he thinks of government overreach, regulation, and “spying on our citizens.”
Then, standing in front of an ATV, Rosendale coolly puts a rifle to his shoulder, looks up through the sight and “downs” the drone with a single shot.
Rosendale is trying to stand out in a five-way primary for Montana’s at-large seat in the House.
Sporting a barn jacket and a flattop buzz cut, the state senator lowers the rifle and pledges to get the feds off his constituents’ backs—or at least not hovering over their heads.
Montana is among the states that prohibit law enforcement from using drones without a warrant. On the federal level, U.S. Customs and Border Protection runs surveillance operations with its nine-drone fleet.
Customs also loaned its drones to other agencies for surveillance missions 700 times over a three-year period, including to state and local departments. The Electronic Frontier Foundation and other advocacy groups have expressed concern that these missions have strayed from the government’s border-security directive.
Though it’s unlikely the government has sent drones buzzing over Rosendale’s property, which is in a small town not particularly close to the Canadian border, he’s tapping into the sentiment that helped fuel Sen. Rand Paul’s drone filibuster last year.
Paul envisioned a scenario in which the government could use a drone to take out an American “in a cafe in San Francisco” so long as the target was suspected of being a terrorist. The Obama administration responded that Americans not engaged in combat would not be the target of drone strikes on U.S. soil.
Still, some—and not just Republicans—are concerned that the government’s growing use of drones could lead to privacy overreaches if not kept in check. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., said earlier this year a drone spied into her house and called for guidelines for law-enforcement use of the technology. The ACLU and Electronic Frontier Foundation are among groups who hope to set strict boundaries for drone use by the government.
Shooting down a drone, however, is illegal, according to the Federal Aviation Administration.