The father of an 18-year-old boy who built a drone with a gun attached and posted video of it on YouTube with the title "flying gun" says they broke no laws.
The footage appears to show a gun affixed to a drone hovering several feet off of the ground in a wooded area. The gun appears to discharge several times while the drone is in flight. In the posting, Austin Haughwout, 18, describes the device as a "homemade multi-rotor with a semi-automatic handgun mounted on it."
Haughwout's father Brett Haughwout said his son is an engineering student at Central Connecticut State University, custom built a drone device that included a spot for a handgun and the capability to fire it midflight. The gun belongs to Brett.
Brett said the video that shows the drone firing the weapon was shot on their property in Clinton, Connecticut. The father and son duo did "extensive research" before assembling the flying weapon to make sure they wouldn't break any laws.
The Clinton Police Department was alerted to the YouTube video this week and were concerned for public safety. Local law enforcement officials said, however, they do not believe the device violates any state law.
"If it's being discharged in an area where it could be legally discharged, right now there's no legislation that prohibits it," Clinton Sgt. Jeremiah Dunn said.
The Federal Aviation Administration was also investigating the video.
“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 FAA will also work with its law enforcement partners to determine if there were any violations of criminal statutes,” said Jim Peters, a spokesperson for the FAA.
This isn't the first time Austin Haughwout has drawn the attention because of a drone video. In 2014, he was involved in an altercation on Hammonasset Beach last year after he flew a homemade drone over the beach. That time, the drone was carrying a camera. He posted a clip of that incident to the same YouTube channel where the 'flying gun' video was posted.
Haughwout said his son made ad revenue from the previous YouTube video and used it to purchase parts for the 'flying gun.' He said he believes Austin could make approximately $1,500 in advertising revenue associated with the "flying gun" video, depending on how many views the video receives. He said Austin will use that money to fund his next project, though it is unclear what he will build.
Though it does not appear any state statute was violated, local police said the idea of a "flying gun" can be discharged remotely is disquieting.
“Our number one job in law enforcement is public safety, first and foremost, the protection of the citizens of the community we serve," said Sgt. Jeremiah Dunn. “That’s alarming,” he said of the device.