Australia to ban laser pointers

April 22, 2008 // 8:53 a.m.

Tags: #aircraft #australia #ban #crime #danger #firearms #helicopter #laser #laser-pointer

Any Australian gadget freaks reading this may want to think twice before showing off their new laser pointers in the new purchases thread – at least if they live in New South Wales.

According to several Australian news agencies – News.com.au and The Sydney Morning Herald to name but two – the state has officially banned high-powered laser pointers – specifically, classes three and four – classifying them as 'prohibited weapons' – the same category as firearms. Anyone found carrying such a laser pointer in public without the Australian equivalent of a Firearms Certificate will be guilty of an offence punishable by up to fourteen years imprisonment. Even if you've only got a weedy little keychain unit, you'll still find yourself up on summary charges if you can't think of a good reason for having it with you in a public place.

The move appears to have been triggered by a rash of 'attacks' on aircraft, with misguided individuals allegedly shining high-powered lasers at low-flying helicopters and planes in an attempt to blind the pilots. The New South Wales Premier Morris Iemma describes the most recent of these incidents, in which an air ambulance was targetted over Sydney, as “a gutless and cowardly act that could result in an horrific outcome,” while stating that “it only takes a fraction of a second for a pilot to become temporarily blinded” by such a device.

Although Western Australia has already banned the devices, the consequences of being caught with a class three laser on or about your person in a public place in New South Wales are a lot greater – fourteen years compared to just twelve months in Western Australia.

Any geeks out there in the Antipodes having to arrange a hiding place for their star-pointer lasers, or have we all moved on from thinking pocket-sized coherent light generators are neat-o? Share your thoughts over in the forums.
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