Is it allowed to shoot with an air rifle?

from Claus Ludwig
More and more people are using drones. However, caution is advised when it comes to the scope. When is it legal to shoot down a drone?

More and more people are buying a drone to be able to take spectacular pictures of their surroundings. The world’s largest manufacturer of civilian drones, DJI from China, is at the forefront. In Germany, the rules for the use of drones are currently conflicting, so the question may arise as to whether a drone can be used outside an airfield. Currently, there is only a request to the federal states not to initiate criminal proceedings against long-range drone pilots if they control their drone outside an airfield. These contradictions must first be resolved with a forthcoming revision of the Air Traffic Act. For some residents, flying drones is too far. Various court decisions show what is allowed.

When can you shoot down a drone?

In 2015, a woman was harassed via drone. In sunny weather, she was lying on a deckchair in the garden when she noticed a drone hovering a few meters above her deckchair. With the help of an attorney, the property owner demanded that the drone pilot cease and desist and file a cease and desist notice with penalties. The defendant denied both allegations and claimed it was not his drone. The Potsdam District Court upheld the suit in its entirety. In this way, the woman’s general right to personality was violated. This includes, for example, the right to privacy, that is, a very personal retreat that must not be entered by others. The drone can fly, but you must obtain express permission first.

In Riesa, a man shot down a drone with an air gun as it hovered over his property. The Riese District Court acquitted the shooter. At the time of the overflight, two of the defendant’s young daughters were in the garden and were filmed via drone. In addition, the defendant’s wife was followed with the drone when she was disposing of the waste. After the man unsuccessfully tried to drive the pilot away by shouting loudly, the plaintiff shot the drone down. As in the Potsdam case, general personal rights were violated. According to Section 201a of the German Penal Code, the drone pilot made himself a criminal act by not allowing the recording of people in a very personal living space.

Such retreats also include a garden protected from view by tall hedges. Live recording is prohibited, as is saving the images. According to emergency section 228 BGB, one can damage someone else’s property if this serves to avert an imminent danger to oneself or another, and only if the damage/destruction is the mildest tangible means. However, the damage must not be disproportionate to the danger. An alternative would be to call the police, but it may take too long to get to the perpetrator. If, on the other hand, a property is visible from public space, you cannot simply shoot down a drone. From 2024, new guidelines apply to drone owners within the EU.

Also worth reading: Drones: CE classes and new rules will apply from 2024

Drone Launch Collection:

  • Drones can also be annoying when the unmanned aerial vehicles fly over private property.
  • Shooting down a drone is only permitted if strict requirements are all met. It must be a violation of the law, there must be no milder means of defense, and the damage must not be disproportionate to the imminent danger.
  • If, on the other hand, a property is visible from public space, you cannot simply shoot down a drone. From 2024, new guidelines apply to drone owners within the EU.

Sources: Spiegel Online, Federal Ministry of Justice

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