COLORADO SPRINGS – On Aug. 6, the Deer Trail Board of Trustees will consider an ordinance to sell licenses as part of a “bounty program,” authorizing the license holders to shoot down unmanned aircraft violating the town’s “sovereign airspace.”

Up until now, the small town’s claim to fame is holding the “Worlds very first Rodeo, on July 4, 1869.”  Deer Trail is located 55 miles east of Denver, boasting a population of 546 people. With this pending  legislation, the town could become an important benchmark in an ongoing debate on sovereignty.

In an article posted on the History of Deer Trail Facebook Page, Kathy Smiley  summarized the proceedings.

“Phillip Steel presented his citizen’s initiative to the Deer Trail Board on July 2nd.” Even though this legislation is very serious to Mr. Steel, he received “a few chuckles from the Trustees and audience members” while making his presentation. “Steel did his due diligence on the seven-page ordinance, written in detailed legalese, set forth in seven sections,” to “defend the sovereign airspace of the town from unmanned aerial vehicles.”

Steel argues, “State and local governments throughout the country are talking about the fantastic possibilities of using unmanned aerial vehicles. It is time to take a stand against becoming a surveillance society.”

Another benefit of the ordinance  – “it would generate revenue for the Town of Deer Trail.”

Steel explains, “the licenses would only be valid within the town limits of Deer Trail, he feels people from across the country will buy them if offered online.”  Steel continues, ”For $25 plus shipping and handling, some guy in Texas, Georgia, or Tennessee could have a drone hunting license suitable for framing on the wall, adding that 1,000 licenses would earn the town $25,000.”

The ordinance states,

Whereas State and federal entities, non-government organizations, and powerful corporate interests, state and non-state actors, terrorists and others are threatened by traditional American ideas of Liberty and Freedom, and a heritage of such principles remains inherent in the common way of life by ranchers, farmers, cowboys and Indians, as well as contemporary citizens of Deer Trail; and

Whereas, many Western communities in rural America provide monetary incentives (bounties) for the killing of predators that are injurious to Man and his interests, the Town of Deer Trail likewise establishes hunting licenses and bounties for the killing of unmanned aerial vehicles, in keeping with the Western traditions of sovereignty and freedom.

Section One of the ordinance, entitled “Identification of Unwanted Unmanned Aerial Vehicles,” lays out the requirements for identifying the drone being hunted. UAVs, “must be flying below 1,000 feet, shall be windowless and without any apparent means of entry for a human being, and may include fixed wing, rotary wing, or a combination thereof.” “Citizens may engage an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) using only plain visual identification if the vehicle is flown at an altitude of less than 300 feet.” Otherwise another provision states, “Beyond 300 feet, optical equipment such as binoculars must be used.”

Section Two of the ordinance describes the types of weapons and ammunition allowed when hunting drones. They include “12 gauge shotguns, or smaller, with barrel lengths of 18 inches or greater, and shot sizes ranging between 2 and 7.5.” The methods of engagement, techniques used, and training requirements are all contained within the ordinance.

Licenses would be issued anonymously without background checks, and no record of the data kept. Applicants would be required to be 21 years of age, and have the ability to read and write English.  As part of the “bounty program,” the ordinance states, “the town of Deer Trail would issue a reward of $25 to any licensed shooter who presents parts of a UAV, the fuselage, or one wing with markings consistent with those used on any craft known to be owned or operated by the United States federal government.” The bounty is increased to $100 for someone who brings in an “intact UAV,”  allowing for either the tail or nose section to be damaged or missing, but not both.

Since this ordinance was brought forth as a “Citizen’s Initiative,” the Colorado Revised Statute controls  the issue. The board can pass the ordinance as is, or modify it, passing a different version, or reject it completely. If the initiative is rejected, Steel has six months to procure the signatures of 5 percent of the registered voters in town to override the Trustee’s decision.

“I will just get the signatures; it is either that, or be known for being the only place in America 50 miles away from the nearest Walmart,” he said.

The ordinance’s novelty amused some during the presentation, however Steel says, “simply asserting our rights and especially using the S-word, (Sovereignty) is against the federal law these days.”

And if the courts strike it down?

“I would love to argue that in court, since it is also against the law and the Constitution to conduct covert surveillance on American citizens.” Plus, now that it is the 21st Century, Deer Trail could exchange it’s  old claim for being,  “The first town to issue Drone Hunting Licenses in America.”

I salute Steel and his strong propensity to take action in his community. The Tenth Amendment Center is laboring for a day when the Colorado state legislators will take up similar legislature, banning the use of drones for spying on ALL citizens.  Nothing says Nullification better, than a state telling the federal government, “You will not use drones to spy on our citizens!!!  If you do, the drones will be shot out of our sovereign airspace.”

The Tenth Amendment Center and it’s Colorado Chapter, promote building grassroots coalitions in order to prepare legislation for passage at the town, city, county and state level. Go to this link to view volunteer opportunities for Liberty.

Steel took a unique approach to fighting federal overreach. His actions prove what a single motivated person can accomplish. You can too! Take action to advance a nullification issue in your city, town or county.


1.  Make the Decision to Take Action.

2.  Go to the Tenth Amendment Center . Click on the “Model Legislation” link.

3.  Find the most appropriate legislation for your community.

4.  Contact your town council, city council, county commissioners, and state representatives and senators, and forward the model legislation to them.

5.  Tell them why this issue is important to you and the community at large.

6.  Tell them you are part of a large and growing grassroots coalition which only votes for Public Servants who do the will of the people.

Ronald Martin

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