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04-24-08, 07:22 AM #1
Laser pointer ban proposed in Australian state
Are lasers weapons? In the movies, of course. In warfare, they do everything from guiding bombs to earth to blasting targets in space. And now handheld laser pointers have earned a place alongside guns in Australia’s most populous state.
A new law proposed today by the premier of New South Wales declares possession of the handheld lasers a serious crime, punishable by up to 14 years in prison, depending on the device’s power. Weaker lasers could carry a $5,000 fine or 2 years in jail, and there would be exemptions only for teachers, construction crews and the scientists who point out the stars on planetarium ceilings.
Behind the harshness of the proposed ban is a nightmare scenario: A passenger jet crashes after a pilot is blinded by a laser aimed at the cockpit by someone on the ground. “It is a gutless and cowardly act that could result in an horrific outcome,” Premier Morris Iemma said, according to Reuters. “It only takes a fraction of a second for a pilot to become temporarily blinded and that could have catastrophic consequences.”
The enemy now known as “laser lunatics” in Australia emerged in a string of incidents — mostly involving airline pilots, but also helicopters. Earlier this month, a 23-year-old man was sentenced to three years in prison for pointing his laser at another helicopter. The judge echoed the dire viewpoint of today’s officials, calling the crime “a disaster in the making,” The Associated Press said.
This all may sound vaguely familiar: the United States went through a similar fit in 2005. Then, the Federal Aviation Administration reported an astounding 287 cases of cockpits hit with laser beams, and the House of Representatives proposed a law against pointing the devices at planes , with fines up to $250,000 and prison terms up to five years.
But the proposed legislation, known as the Securing Aircraft Cockpits Against Lasers Act of 2005, stalled as the threat seemed to recede. The aviation agency went on to create “laser-free zones” around airports, along with an application process for anyone who wants to stage a laser light show outdoors. (Note to Vienna, Va.: Make sure to file your papers 30 days before your brand new July 4th show.)
The stalling of the bill hardly stopped the authorities from pursuing suspected laser miscreants, however. In January 2005, federal authorities decided to “make a point” with David Banach of Parsippany, N.J., as George James recounted in animated terms in The New York Times:
ON the face of it, the situation David Banach got himself into sounds like one of those off-the-wall plots from ‘’The Simpsons.'’
Homer orders this laser pen over the Internet and takes Lisa outside to flash it around the night sky. It flashes on an aircraft. They go into the house, and soon there is a banging on the door. Homer opens it and — ‘’D'oh!'’ — there, in his front yard, are hordes of lawmen, including F.B.I. agents who arrest him for violation of the Patriot Act.
Homer gets flattened by John Ashcroft.
Mr. Banach faced up to 25 year in prison, but a judge decided a year later that two years’ probation was enough punishment for “a few moments of reckless action in an otherwise blameless life.” Today, those were precisely the moments that inspired Australian officials to drop their tolerance for lasers.
April 21, 2008, 10:52 am
Australia Takes On ‘Laser Lunatics’
By Mike Nizza
04-24-08, 07:30 AM #2
It's illegal to point a laser at a law enforcement officer in Mississippi.*************************"It wouldn't take much for me to up and run...to another life somewhere in the sun."*************************"There's something inherently wrong with having to put on a bullet-proof vest and a gun to go to work."-(An old friend)
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04-24-08, 08:56 AM #3
Another case of punishing everyone for the actions of a few.
(='.'=) This is Bunny. Copy and paste Bunny into your
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04-24-08, 10:07 AM #4Pleasing nobody, one person at a time.
That which does not kill me, better start fucking running.
If I lived every day like it was my last, the body count would be staggering.
I intend to go in harm's way. -John Paul Jones
Hunt the wolf, and bring light to the dark places that others fear to go. LT COL Dave Grossman
04-24-08, 12:29 PM #5
My cats are going to be devastated if they ban the little pointers.\\` ` ` ` < ` )___/\
`` ` ` ` (3--(____)
"...but to forget your duck, of course, means you're really screwed." - Gary Larson
04-24-08, 12:42 PM #6
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