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Laser Pointers Classed as Weapons in Australia

timothy posted more than 6 years ago | from the conflating-objects-and-uses dept.

Security 491

An anonymous reader was the first to point to an article in the Sydney Morning Herald which says that New South Wales (of which Sydney is the capital) will prohibit the possession of certain types of laser pointers, defining them as weapons, and make it an offense to carry any laser pointer "without a lawful reason." (Similar coverage at news.com.au) Western Australia apparently beat NSW to the punch, and the federal government of Australia announced earlier this month it will treat laser pointers much like firearms, which, in Australia, is really saying something. The restrictions come as a reaction to incidents (not confined to Australia) in which the lasers were trained on planes, distracting pilots.

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While we're at it.. (0)

micksam7 (1026240) | more than 6 years ago | (#23139444)

While we're at it, let's ban bright beams so drivers can't be blinded either!

Re:While we're at it.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23139476)

We must not impose our own moral standards - indeed, we must make allowances for the cultural sensitivities [satirewire.com] of other peoples, who after all, haven't had our fortunate standards of living and history of ethical struggle to shape their values.

Re:While we're at it.. (0, Troll)

ta bu shi da yu (687699) | more than 6 years ago | (#23139664)

Better idea: let's implement draconian wire tap and search & seizure laws, then create a massive database of where and when our citizens are calling. Heck, while we are about it, why don't we setup free speech zones and ignore any pretense at privacy for the individual citzen. That'll show those terrorists!

Re:While we're at it.. (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23139790)

don't we setup free speech zones

Fuck that shit. America in its entirety is a free speech zone. Anyone who doesn't believe that, with no exceptions or reservations, can line up so I, and the rest of us who believe in the Constitution exactly as written, can piss in your mouth.

Re:While we're at it.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23139914)

Oooh yes baby, piss in my mouth, talk Republican to me again!

Re:While we're at it.. (4, Insightful)

GigaplexNZ (1233886) | more than 6 years ago | (#23139948)

Fuck that shit. America in its entirety is a free speech zone. Anyone who doesn't believe that, with no exceptions or reservations, can line up so I, and the rest of us who believe in the Constitution exactly as written, can piss in your mouth.
Trying to silence the people who disagree? Sounds like a typical supporter of free speech to me.

I'd just like to point out that this article is about Australia, don't bring America into this. Not everything is about America.

The U.S. does already (4, Informative)

SuperKendall (25149) | more than 6 years ago | (#23139728)

It's illegal to have headlights above a certain brightness level, or perhaps it's above a certain number of lights - but there are light configurations you can put on a car that will get you pulled over if you have them on for street driving.

Now it's not illegal to have said lights mounted, so that's the point where the car analogy breaks (as they always do). But it does show your point is not as ridiculous as you had thought, because having really bright beams pointed at traffic is in fact a valid safety issue.

Re:While we're at it.. (1)

Yvanhoe (564877) | more than 6 years ago | (#23139836)

Here we're not talking "blinded as I cannot see the road for 5 seconds", we are talking "blinded as my retina is gone"

Lawful reason (1)

H0D_G (894033) | more than 6 years ago | (#23139450)

This is a little excessive, and I challenge the govenrment in NSW to define a lawful reason. this law seeks to punish everyone for the actions of a few idiots. personally, popping balloons with the things is a lawful reason to carry :)

Re:Lawful reason (5, Insightful)

scum-e-bag (211846) | more than 6 years ago | (#23139514)

This is a little excessive, and I challenge the govenrment in NSW to define a lawful reason.
I can think of a logical reason (if you can call it logical).

This whole exercise is not much more than a political diversion. Sydney has some major water/traffic/infrastructure/social/political problems. Rather than deal with them and have everyone talking about how bad the public transport is to the outer suburbs (for example), get everyone talking about laser pointers!!! The lower classes lap it up. It's exactly the same tactic as the Tasmanian governments tactic to push for a state bogan-ball team in the national competition, while avoiding the more pressing issue of two deputy leaders being sacked for corruption within a very short space of time.

It's got very little to do with safety and much more to do with politics and power.

Re:Lawful reason (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23139924)

Thanks for the commentary Mr. Armchair Aviation Security Expert.
I am an Australia Flight Instructor rated for night flying. The fuckwits target us at least once a week around Melbourne especially on approach (Usually Essendon and Moorabbin too).
How the fuck am I suppose to fucking land when I have some asshole trying blind me? As another pilot here said (Is that you Rob?) "If I'm flying VFR and I can't fucking see then I am going I'm going to have an accident".
And what possible political purpose in your dimwit mind of yours could there be to ban high powered laser pointers? A distraction for more serious issues? Are you saying that the possibility of an aircraft crashing into built areas is not serious?

Re:Lawful reason (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23139952)

You're an idiot.

Re:Lawful reason (5, Informative)

Hal_Porter (817932) | more than 6 years ago | (#23139632)

I really hate idiots who play with laser pointers. The ones being banned in Australia are Class III and Class IV ones which can easily blind someone.

personally, popping balloons with the things is a lawful reason to carry :)
It seems like if it can pop balloons, it's not the sort of thing you want drunken kids playing with. My right not to be blinded trumps your right to burst balloons when drunk.

Here's what a 5mW laser looks like to a pilot.

http://www.pangolin.com/faa/laser-aircraft-animation-and-explanation.htm [pangolin.com]

Re:Lawful reason (5, Insightful)

Spasemunki (63473) | more than 6 years ago | (#23139666)

If we're going to ban everything that isn't safe for use by drunken children, we're not going to be left with much that's legal.

Re:Lawful reason (2, Insightful)

kestasjk (933987) | more than 6 years ago | (#23139892)

That's right! First they'll take laser pointers from stupid vandals, then they'll take away our right to free speech, then they'll enslave us and treat us like beasts of burden!

Re:Lawful reason (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23139772)

My right not to be blinded trumps your right to burst balloons when drunk.

No it doesn't. Your right to not be blinded can only trump someone's right to point a fucking laser pointer at your eyes.

What you are saying is equivalent to "nobody should be allowed to carry a knife because they *might* stab me with it". Pure idiocy.

Re:Lawful reason (5, Interesting)

Eth1csGrad1ent (1175557) | more than 6 years ago | (#23139800)

I really hate idiots who play with laser pointers.

I'm with you. I'm an Aussie and I'm fine with the law.

Recent personal experience: I was the first to pull up to a stop light on a 4-lane road, with my wife beside me and my two year old daughter in the back seat. As I put my foot on the brake approaching the intersection I suddenly suffered a complete loss of vision (As IN - WHAT THE F..K??? I CANT SEE. MY EYES? WTF IS WRONG WITH MY EYES!?!?). In the confusion I somehow managed to come to my senses enough to lock the brakes before going through the intersection.

As my eyesight returned and I sat there trying to work out what just happened, I turned to see a 15-16 year old sitting in a car beside me with his mates, laughing their arses off.

I nearly wiped out my whole family - and they thought it was the funniest thing in the world.

The problem was - at the time I had NO IDEA what was happening to me - I didnt know it was a laser pointer until afterwards. At a critical moment I blinked and my eyes didnt work - it FREAKED me out, and this wasnt even one of the lasers that they're banning.

BTW - Yes I got out of the car..and YES, I still have the laser pointer the kid used.

Re:Lawful reason (1)

loraksus (171574) | more than 6 years ago | (#23139808)

The majority of - and I mean virtually all, except the perhaps the ones sold at the dollar store (end even then) - laser pointers fall into class 3a - for these lasers "eye protection is afforded by the "blink aversion response" to class 3a lasers, except when the laser is viewed using optical aids (telescopes, binoculars)" (http://www.bccdc.org/content.php?item=54)

Clearly, some people - people who actually have, you know, some actual knowledge of the subject - contradict your statement that these lasers can "easily blind someone."

And your link is... remarkably shitty and dishonest.
It claims that "A typical flash from a hand-held laser at 1000 feet lasts about 1/50 of a second" and then, for their sample pics, use a camera at f/2.8 and 1/6th of a second long - and then tie it to a slowed down .gif
FAIL.

Re:Lawful reason (1)

loraksus (171574) | more than 6 years ago | (#23139962)

And to continue on this for a bit...
150 knots (more or less average approach speed for larger aircraft) translates to about 250 feet per second.
On the 4th pic, they "show" you what a 1/6th of a second exposure would look like at 350 feet.

I'm not going to do the math, but I'd wager money that;

1. It it possible for a human to physically move the pointer fast enough to follow the cockpit as it passes overhead at that speed (you're talking about a fairly significant arc)
2. It is possible for someone on the ground to even "see" the pilot's eyes during that time for 1/6th of a second - given the design of the cockpits, elevation of the aircraft, etc.
3. It is possible to track an eyeball sized target for that time.

And even then, due to the lack of dispersion of the beam, it would only affect one eye of a single pilot.

I also hate idiots who screw around with laser pointers as much as anyone else and think people who try to pull this kind of shit need to get the shit beaten out of them, but I hate bad pseudo-science a bit more.

Re:Lawful reason (5, Funny)

MrNaz (730548) | more than 6 years ago | (#23139926)

Will my tank full of sharks count as a "lawful reason"?

Fricking laser beams (1)

wallyhall (665610) | more than 6 years ago | (#23139452)

One government clearly watches too much Austin Powers.

Fricking sharks with fricking laserbeams attached to their fricking heads.

Think of the sharks! (0, Redundant)

JoltCola (1275220) | more than 6 years ago | (#23139456)

I would make laser pointers illegal too with all those willing and able sharks out in the surrounding waters!

It's only class 3 and 4 lasers (4, Informative)

_merlin (160982) | more than 6 years ago | (#23139458)

They aren't banning class 1 laser pointers (won't cause eye damage) or class 2 laser pointers (your natural blink reflex should be sufficient to protect you from eye damage). They're only banning high powered class 3 and 4 laser pointers (may cause eye damage and need to use eye protection). Most laser pointers are class 2. To be honest, I think this is a good thing. The less idiots with potentially dangerous lasers, the better. A class 2 laser is good enough for most people, and if you really need a bigger one (i.e. not just to compensate for your small breasts/penis), you can get a permit.

Re:It's only class 3 and 4 lasers (1)

Chandon Seldon (43083) | more than 6 years ago | (#23139512)

Sure. Let's outlaw arc welders too. They can blind people. And screwdrivers, because you could stab someone. And metal forks, because you might try to use them to get stuff out of the toaster and electrocute yourself.

Or maybe some tools are dangerous, but everyone needs to accept that it's not the role of government to protect people from every little danger.

Re:It's only class 3 and 4 lasers (1)

Digestromath (1190577) | more than 6 years ago | (#23139552)

Sure, lets take that approach. Lets make a law prohibiting anything that could blind someone. Better round off anything pointy or get rid of caustic materials. It makes alot of sense to require everyone have a permit for thier laser pointer, or fork, or elastic band.

Wait... I have an idea. We could instead just make it against the law to blind people. Temporary blinding, not causing permanent damage, could be treated like assault. Permanent blinding could be up there with murder. No wait, silly idea. Better just ban everything, much more enforcable and logical.

Now I've never been to Australia. I'm not sure how big of a problem it is. Yes I can understand the consequences of a blinded pilot or driver. But are there roving bands of laser wielding mauraders? Is it hip for kids to get into a school yard fight and blind one another with lasers? Is that what's going on nowadays in Australia?

I feel so old. Damn these teenagers and thier beams of coherent light, get off my lawn!

Re:It's only class 3 and 4 lasers (3, Informative)

marcushnk (90744) | more than 6 years ago | (#23139582)

No offense mate, but that is such a classic American response... wouldn't be a yank you ya?

You need a lic for anything larger than an air rifle over here... and you can't just carry one of them around either...

We like it that way.

Re:It's only class 3 and 4 lasers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23139608)

Amen.

Re:It's only class 3 and 4 lasers (-1, Troll)

Man On Pink Corner (1089867) | more than 6 years ago | (#23139620)

No offense mate, but that is such a classic American response... wouldn't be a yank you ya?

No, a classical American response would be to point out that if you own a DVD burner, you already have a more-powerful laser [felesmagus.com] than many of the banned devices.

But then I guess that's the difference between a country of free people who had to earn that freedom by force, versus a country full of quavering subjects who've been taught, as a culture, that they're not to be trusted.

Re:It's only class 3 and 4 lasers (0, Offtopic)

cranos (592602) | more than 6 years ago | (#23139712)

But then I guess that's the difference between a country of free people who had to earn that freedom by force, versus a country full of quavering subjects who've been taught, as a culture, that they're not to be trusted.

You have looked at the US government lately haven't you? Just wanted to make sure you weren't looking into some sort of alternate universe US, where things like imprisonment without trial and warrantless phone tapping are considered "bad things" by the government.

As to the cultural difference, it's not about whether we can be trusted or not, it's about not glorifying the great holy handgun.

Re:It's only class 3 and 4 lasers (0, Offtopic)

Man On Pink Corner (1089867) | more than 6 years ago | (#23139744)

Don't change the subject.

Re:It's only class 3 and 4 lasers (5, Insightful)

Dahamma (304068) | more than 6 years ago | (#23139792)

No, a classical American response would be to point out that if you own a DVD burner, you already have a more-powerful laser than many of the banned devices.

But then I guess that's the difference between a country of free people who had to earn that freedom by force, versus a country full of quavering subjects who've been taught, as a culture, that they're not to be trusted.


Yeah, which explains why it took an American to use a seemingly innocent material like ammonium nitrate fertilizer to kill 170 people in Oklahoma City.

Give me a break - you can make all of the bullshit Revolutionary analogies you want, the fact is if a US single pilot were blinded by a DVD-homebrew-laser we'd all be forced to get permits for our DVD burners. For fucks sake, every air traveler in the country has to remove their shoes because one wacko thought he could put a bomb in his loafers.

Re:It's only class 3 and 4 lasers (1)

Man On Pink Corner (1089867) | more than 6 years ago | (#23139838)

Give me a break - you can make all of the bullshit Revolutionary analogies you want, the fact is if a US single pilot were blinded by a DVD-homebrew-laser we'd all be forced to get permits for our DVD burners. For fucks sake, every air traveler in the country has to remove their shoes because one wacko thought he could put a bomb in his loafers.

Funny, I can still buy ammonium nitrate here in the admittedly-far-from-perfect US.

What is the government of Australia going to do when someone burns down a nightclub, killing a hundred people in ten minutes with a can of gasoline? Ban gasoline?

It reminds me of the bumper stickers I see every once in awhile, the ones with the photo of Osama bin Laden. "I'm still free, how about you?" The US isn't perfect, but Australia treats its people like infants. Apparently, no Australian adult is allowed to own anything that would be dangerous in the hands of a lunatic or a drunken retard. (How's that working out for you, anyway?) [geoffmetcalf.com]

Re:It's only class 3 and 4 lasers (1)

Digestromath (1190577) | more than 6 years ago | (#23139902)

Let's hope nobody is watching MacGyver in syndication. He could bring down an airplane with all sorts of stuff that make it through security.

The next time you go through security it could be like this:

Please remove any liquids, gels, weak acids, weak bases, rubber bands, duct tape, tin foil, paper clips, conductive wire, batteries, magnifying lenses, anything that can burn, mullets... basically get on the plane naked and keep your hands where I can see them.

MOD ABUSE (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23139794)

"-1, Troll?"

Incredible. More like, "-1, Cognitive Dissonance."

Re:It's only class 3 and 4 lasers (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23139950)

So what if a DVD burner has a more powerful laser. The laser in the DVD burner wasn't built with the explicit intent of being pointed at distant objects. Sure, someone can pull it out and use it for nefarious purposes, but that's not the point (pun not intended).

While I'm sure laser pointers are great for showing off that latest Powerpoint spreadsheet the marketing guys whipped up, for the most part they're a toy that have little practical use other than as a potential weapon.

Re:It's only class 3 and 4 lasers (1)

syousef (465911) | more than 6 years ago | (#23139670)

It's a goddamn laser pointer, not a fucking rifle. Classifying it as a weapon is to say the least an extreme thing. You could do as much damage blinding pilots with a large searchlight, and if you're trying to blind pilots it isn't like you're going to give a shit that your laser has been classified as a weapon.

Re:It's only class 3 and 4 lasers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23139906)

You could do as much damage blinding pilots with a large searchlight

No, you couldn't. This isn't about "blinded" as in "someone looking into the light might have difficulties seeing well immediately afterwards", it's about "blinded" as in "permanent damage to the eye".

Re:It's only class 3 and 4 lasers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23139918)

While classifying them as a weapon is perhaps a bit overboard, overall I don't really see the issue with this.

What practical purpose does a person have for needing a laser pointer? And particularly for carrying it around with them in public.

Unless they're prone to giving impromptu university lectures to total strangers on random building walls, I fail to see any practical need for having one. So once you take away practical uses, and ignore their gimmick use since that's irrelevent (noobs pointing them at cinema screens and so forth), all you're left with is their use as a possible weapon to temporarily (or even permanently) blind someone.

Re:It's only class 3 and 4 lasers (3, Insightful)

G-funk (22712) | more than 6 years ago | (#23139860)

Erm, no, we don't. Speak for yourself buddy. An unarmed population is an oppressed population.

Re:It's only class 3 and 4 lasers (5, Interesting)

Digestromath (1190577) | more than 6 years ago | (#23139876)

No, I'm actually a Canadian. I also realise that a requiring a license for something doesn't stop it from being used illegally

What is this all for may I ask? A knee jerk reaction to a vague, potential threat? Because of a "potential to cause mass murder"? How many serial laser pointer killers have there been? In Australia? In the world?

5000$ fines for possesion of non prohibited laser by a unlicensed individual. A possible 14 years in prison for a prohibited laser.

You potentially could spend more time in jail and pay a heavier fine for a laser pointer than heroin, an unlicensed firearm or a hand grenade? That doesn't strike you as... illogical?

That would be a great news story in itself. Man's home searched, found in possession of home made high power laser pointer, gets 14 years in jail. In other news, man convicted of involuntary manslaughter to get 10, parole in 7 and half.

Re:It's only class 3 and 4 lasers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23139640)

But are there roving bands of laser wielding mauraders?
Yes, actually. That's what's driving this legislation. A couple of weeks ago there were a bunch of lasers aimed at an aircraft, emanating from a local Hungry Jacks restaurant. The media's blowing it out of proportion, naturally, and the government is suggesting a legislative solution because it can't catch the people who actually did it (again, naturally). The proposed solutions are a bunch of hot air, but the problem is real enough.

Re:It's only class 3 and 4 lasers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23139696)

Just out of interest, why exactly does someone need to carry around a class 4 laser anyway? Oh noes, they are infringing my freedoms!

Re:It's only class 3 and 4 lasers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23139710)

Just out of interest, why should you be the arbiter of what I "need?"

Who appointed you King Shit of Turd Mountain?

Re:It's only class 3 and 4 lasers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23139560)

But a screwdriver in a garage can't bring down an aeroplane.. Sure - they could if you took it on a plane - but likewise, good luck with that too..

Re:It's only class 3 and 4 lasers (1)

puggsincyberspace (588856) | more than 6 years ago | (#23139688)

Sure. Let's outlaw arc welders too. They can blind people. And screwdrivers, because you could stab someone I have not heard of someone aiming a arc welder or screwdriver at the cockpit of an aircraft with 200+ people on board. What we have seen here is organised people aiming these high-powered lasers at aircraft from different locations all at the same time, while the aircraft was on approch to the airport. This is one of the most dangerous time of a flight and have resulted in a number of go arounds. Puggs

Re:It's only class 3 and 4 lasers (1)

Jedi Alec (258881) | more than 6 years ago | (#23139720)

Ok, so let the free market sort it...laser-guided rocket launchers on all commercial airliners!

Re:It's only class 3 and 4 lasers (5, Informative)

More_Cowbell (957742) | more than 6 years ago | (#23139530)

Well, I RTFAs (the whole two paragraphs of each). It certainly seems like you've hit the nail on the head and I would have to agree - at least without having heard an argument for the other side.

That said, I would wonder a few things:
1. How hard would it be to get a permit? (For instance I have no need for (nor do I own) a class 3 or 4... but I always thought it sounded fun, and I consider myself responsible enough to own one - the same as I feel about guns.
2. Punishable by up to 14 years in jail. Um, Wtf?

Re:It's only class 3 and 4 lasers (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23139578)

1. Getting a permit is as simple as providing a practical application that you require one for.
2. All this talk about lasers being capable of bringing down planes, while serious, is at this stage theoretical. While that gives plenty of people the excuse to keep saying "see, it's harmless" right up until a plane crash is caused by it (at which stage they'll switch to "it's virtually always harmless, just like using forks!"), if you're the poor joe who manages to achieve this feat, expect a 14-year jail sentence (a backup for if the mass-manslaughter charge doesn't stick). If you get caught carrying one without a good reason (seriously, who's going to buy a $900 laser without a good reason.. although I guess some idiots do) you can expect a fine or 3 months in jail. More if you actually use it on an aircraft.

Re:It's only class 3 and 4 lasers (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23139678)

1. Getting a permit is as simple as providing a practical application that you require one for.

Except in Victoria, where you need a special exemption from the governor in council and $120.

Re:It's only class 3 and 4 lasers (5, Informative)

propanol (1223344) | more than 6 years ago | (#23139556)

For people who're not up to speed on laser classifications, a level 3 laser is one that outputs between 5-500 mW and a level 4 goes beyond 500 mW. Already at 100 mW the laser is strong enough to make you blind in less than a millisecond. These laser pointers are not like the ones you'll find in common shops, these can inflict serious damage on people and should be handled with the same care as you'd handle a weapon (which they arguably could be classified as).

Re:It's only class 3 and 4 lasers (1)

syousef (465911) | more than 6 years ago | (#23139736)

5-10mW lasers are often used in astronomy as the beam can be seen against even suburban skies and can be used to point out features in the night sky. You are very very careful not to shine one in a person's eye, but unless you're being an idiot about it, it's not something that's hard to avoid. Only point it up.

Re:It's only class 3 and 4 lasers (5, Funny)

ColaMan (37550) | more than 6 years ago | (#23139900)

Only point it up.

I believe that's the problem they're trying to address.

Re:It's only class 3 and 4 lasers (1)

ArsenneLupin (766289) | more than 6 years ago | (#23139904)

Only point it up.
Thanks, you've just made their point. Guess in whose eyes you (risk to) shine it when you point it up?

Re:It's only class 3 and 4 lasers (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23139930)

Ahem, this has already been mostly the case here, at-least in Victoria, for some time.

"The Control of Weapons (Amendment) Regulations 1998 came into effect on 23 November 1998.
Under these regulations it is prohibited to import, sell, manufacture, possess and use laser
pointers which emit a laser beam with an accessible emission limit greater than 1mW, i.e. Class
3R. Laser pointers are not commercially available in Class 3B or 4.
Any laser pointers of Class 3R should be handed in to your nearest police station. Penalty for
possession and use is $6000 or 6 months imprisonment."

http://www.adm.monash.edu/ohse/assets/docs/information-sheets/lasers.pdf [monash.edu]
with reference to
http://www.dms.dpc.vic.gov.au/Domino/Web_Notes/LDMS/PubStatbook.nsf/0/AEB69CB670D335CDCA256E5B0021A5D7/$FILE/98-105sr.pdf [vic.gov.au]

But there has always been some exception to Scientific uses:
http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/legis/wa/consol_reg/rsr1983337/s53b.html [austlii.edu.au]
As outlined by Dan,

http://www.dansdata.com/nexus.htm [dansdata.com]
I expect Dan to have something to say about this on his blog soon.

Re:It's only class 3 and 4 lasers (2, Informative)

loraksus (171574) | more than 6 years ago | (#23139570)

FAIL
1-5mW lasers are rated class 3a according to ANSI Z136.1 - and most - hell, virtually all - pen lasers are class 3a.
But, hey, feel free to continue making idiotic comments that include statements like "good enough for most people" and "can get a permit".

Re:It's only class 3 and 4 lasers (1)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 6 years ago | (#23139652)

so what's your argument there chump? that all pen lasers are dangerous so lets just leave it that way?

Re:It's only class 3 and 4 lasers (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23139750)

I'm pretty sure his point is that most laser pointers are not class ii and that the dishonest and deceitful cunt who he responded to is full of shit.
And "chump" as an insult? Nice one! The retarded 7 year old kid down my block grew out of that a few weeks back.
Try better next time, you sheeple fuck.

Re:It's only class 3 and 4 lasers (2, Insightful)

syousef (465911) | more than 6 years ago | (#23139662)

In other words YOU don't need one so YOU think it's fine.

I own a few telescopes, and have a laser pointer. I don't use the telescopes or the pointer as much as I'd like to but now I have to go home and check if it's class 2 or 3, and then work out if I have to get rid of it if it's class 3.

Astronomy education? Who needs it! Never mind that the criminal fucks that were trying to blind pilots were using more powerful lasers, lets ban the 5mW ones as well. Oh and lets classify it as a weapon so you need to store it in a locked cabinet and pay fees to get a permit.

Idiotic. As others have pointed out there are many many dangerous things in this world that could cause damage to a large number of people. Banning their legitimate use or regulating it such that it may as well be banned is yet another example of being too afraid to maintain our own freedoms.

Re:It's only class 3 and 4 lasers (1)

vilain (127070) | more than 6 years ago | (#23139730)

I bought a "extra bright" laser pointer from Edmond Scientific. It turns out it's a Class IIIa with about 5mWatts of output. Most others have substantially less. I'm still vary careful about using it around reflective surfaces and no matter how fun it is, I won't harrass my cats with it.

Then there's case of the dillweed on the bus playing with a laser pointer. I approach him and point out that such things could damage people's eyes. He was very apologetic, apologized, and immediately put the thing away. I don't recall the last time anyone called me "sir". At least someone taught this guy manners...

But outlaying them? Come on. Australia and Russia are turning in to jokes when it comes to Internet technology. Why add another log to the fire?

You cat harasser (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23139804)

I bought a "extra bright" laser pointer from Edmond Scientific. It turns out it's a Class IIIa with about 5mWatts of output. Most others have substantially less. I'm still vary careful about using it around reflective surfaces and no matter how fun it is, I won't harrass my cats with it.

So unless you have in fact harassed your cats with it, how would you know how fun it is to do it? Explain that one, you CAT HARASSER!

Re:It's only class 3 and 4 lasers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23139866)

pay fees to get a permit.

And there you have it -- it's a revenue enhancement scheme, just like the red light cameras where the vendor gets a cut of the take. So, instead of putting them at intersections where they have a high accident count, they're sited where they get the most revenue. i.e. multi-lane intersections with heavy traffic, preferably where there's a downhill slope, making it harder to stop in time. Then put a ribbon on the package by shortening the yellow light period.

And of course, a permit is something a bureaucrat can deny. Then he gets to rub himself off in the loo. That really makes him feel like a stallion with the little lady when he gets home in the evening.

I've been injured by one. (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23139746)

FWIW, I'm one of those who've been injured with a laser pointer. It took a momentary glance up the street after leaving a Newtown bar with friends for me to be left with a blind wiggle across my right eye, from the lower right to the upper left, running right through my fovea. I'm unable to read unless I use my left eye, because with my right there just aren't any words there. I can see the big picture, but no details. That was July 2006, and two years of partial blindness makes a hell of a difference to life. Forget watching fast paced movies and having a clue what's going on, get ready to read 1/3 the speed you used to, and forget being able to look at code and tell the difference between { and ( without using a 20 point font.

And perl... it's all but incomprehensible.. oh wait, I learned that after being blinded. I kid I kid.

The thing about the tools who use laser pointers like this is they can be so far away nobody has any idea who they are, where they are, the beam is silent, and about all you can tell is it's over-that-way-somewhere. The bouncers around that night said they'd seen a laser pointer dot bouncing over guests through the evening, but thought nothing of it.

Whether or not they should be banned is one question, but comparing them to screwdrivers, knives, or axes is being a git who doesn't turn their brain on. At least if some bastard had come at me with a knife they'd have been caught, and at the very least been beaten into a pulp by either my friends, or the bouncers.

The laser pointer tools though - anonymous, quiet, pretty much undetectable, and their weapon leaves absolutely no evidence behind of what it was apart from really fucking bright.

Re:I've been injured by one. (0)

Shadow of Eternity (795165) | more than 6 years ago | (#23139840)

Bullshit, for a number of reasons.

1. If it was powerful enought to cause blindness in a STREAK across the inside of your eye from probably less than half a second of exposure it'd also be bright enough to easily see who was holding it
2. If they were far enough away you couldn't see who was dicking around with it then the beam would probably be nearly impossible to hold still long enough to cause that level of damage, especially since the damage is in a continuous streak instead of a single spot (which would also be nearly impossible)
3. If it was powerful enough to cause that level of damage in a massive wiggly line during a quick glance up the street and far enough away you couldn't see who was holding it then it'd have to be so insanely powerful that it would also have scorched the outside of your eyeball as well as your face.

Re:I've been injured by one. (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23139936)

haha. gotta love the internet experts.

1. Yes, I did see the source of the beam. That's what killed my sight. Unfortunately, you see, when you get one straight in the eyeball you don't see some guy holding a laser pointer a few hundred feet away, you see a massive flash that feels like someone's smacked you one in the face. hard.

2. Luck of the draw. On a night of how many hundred people in a nightclub, one gets hit. Go fire a gun into a crowd of 100,000 close people. Each one has almost no chance of being hit, yet you're going to hit one.

3. Here, hold this 10 gram 60C iron ball in your hand. I see you're able to hold it with a little discomfort until you absorb its heat. Now here', stick this second 10 gram 60C iron ball in your eye. What's that, you can't see now?

Re:It's only class 3 and 4 lasers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23139776)

You're a worthless human being.

If you really think the government should be "protecting" us with new laws, you don't deserve it.

Re:It's only class 3 and 4 lasers (1)

freedom_india (780002) | more than 6 years ago | (#23139864)

A class 2 laser is good enough for most people, and if you really need a bigger one
Probably you need a class 3 or 4 to prove your mahood or whatever is that you aussies need to prove.
And while you are at it, have you thought about classifying led-light flashlights as weapons? They too are bright, shiny and powerful enough.
Also metal forks and metal spoons: They can used as deadly weapons in an assault by kids at home.
Also the plastic carrybags that Coles and Woolworths sooo love to hand out: They are deadly too. One kid can choke another. Have you seen Urban Legends movie?
Also sharp pencils man! You need to ban them too, and not just at home. At schools and planes too. After all a sharply pointed pencil can poke the eyes out for REAL.

Also ban water: Oh i forgot, you guys don't have any. Anyway still ban it: After all the pesky US uses it for waterboarding.

Ban heavy books too: I could use it to beat you to death for your incredible stupidity and incredible reasoning.

I always thought Australia is where the Empire sent its criminals. I never thought that is where failed Darwin Award winners also ended up.

   

Croc Dundee (0)

Middle - Adopter (906754) | more than 6 years ago | (#23139470)

I thought the Aussies were all like, "Mate, that's not a knife. Now *this* (pulls out a massive machete), this right here is a knife."

I wonder if they'll start confiscating boomerangs next.

HAW HAW! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23139504)

Imagine that - an article about Australians & an American mentions Crocadile Dundee

NOONE's EVER DONE THAT BEFORE.

we bow before your awesome humour.

Re:Croc Dundee (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23139526)

Giant knives are fine. It's guns and concentrated light that we don't like to see around here.

Re:Croc Dundee (1)

BrunoBigfoot (996441) | more than 6 years ago | (#23139638)

That's not a knife, that's a spoon!

Alright, you win. I see you've played knifey-spooney before.

Not entirely true (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23139484)

The summary states that "certain types" of laser pointers would be banned, and the article explicitly states that only "the most powerful" of the devices would fall into this category. I don't think it's applicable to hand-held pointers or laser/pen combos (ie, most of what you can actually buy anyway). Granted, that green laser that can burn paper would probably be banned, but that's no great loss.

Is it ok... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23139510)

if my pet shark carries my laser pointer for me?

While we're at it... (1)

fremean (1189177) | more than 6 years ago | (#23139522)

I dunno...

Ban guns because guns kill people.
Ban lasers because lasers blind/distract/kill people.

Can we ban cars? Cars kill more people then both here...
How about trains? Been a few people killed by them...
Hospitals? Lots of people die/get killed in hospitals...

Re:While we're at it... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23139540)

The ban is only for those without a lawful reason. People have a lawful reason to use cars, trains and hospitals. Try again.

Re:While we're at it... (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23139562)

Lots of people were quick to jump on the "let's ban X and Y every-day items as well" bandwagon. But seriously, for what legitimate reason might someone carry around a class 3 or 4 laser? If they have a reason to have that equipment (researchers, etc), then it's considered lawful use, and the authorities won't hassle you. Why is it important that the rest of us have access to powerful lasers?

Cars are an essential tool in most peoples' lives. We realize they kill more people than lasers, but we couldn't exactly give them up. Powerful lasers serve no useful purpose in the hands of someone who doesn't depend on them for work-related reasons, and so it seems like a smart move to take them away.

Of course, I don't think this will stop anyone from trying to bring down planes. It's just like banning guns in Australia - the people who want them to cause mischief aren't inconvenienced in the slightest by the lack of legal avenues through which they can obtain one. If you want to cause trouble, the black market will ALWAYS be there.

Re:While we're at it... (5, Insightful)

Sobrique (543255) | more than 6 years ago | (#23139602)

When I found out that it was legal to own and buy a 300mW laser pointer, I was actually quite suprised. Those are really quite hazardous without 'sensitive' handling. No one really cares about burning through paper or popping balloons, but the 'and might blind bystanders, even with just beam scatter' is IMO a good enough reason to restrict their usage.

Unlike arcwelders, or cars, I can't think of a lot of good reasons for a high intensity laser.

Having them available to 'everyone' in my opinion vastly increases the probabilty of a random fool doing something foolish.

But then, I think the same about firearms too, except even there there's 'real' self defense possibilities.

Re:While we're at it... (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23139938)

But seriously, for what legitimate reason might someone carry around a class 3 or 4 laser?

Yoou hubris-laden son of a bitch. You're one of those tight-assed elites who strut around, observing other people using things which don't appear in your supercilious lifestyle, then pontificates, "What need has anyone of [whatever the fuck I cast a jaundiced eye on today]?

Oh, yes -- you are the measure of all men. There is none like unto you.

Most likely, you're the kind of simpering pissant who thinks it would be just fine if lesser beings were saddled with fees and fines to cover the cost of prison and the salaries of police who capture them engaging in behavior of which you and your priggish friends disapprove.

Fuck you in the mouth, you sanctimonious bitchette.

Re:While we're at it... (1)

RuBLed (995686) | more than 6 years ago | (#23139656)

Heck, we don't have to go through all of that. Just ban dying without lawful reason.

Re:While we're at it... (1)

ta bu shi da yu (687699) | more than 6 years ago | (#23139704)

Ummm... not sure how to break it to you, but euthenasia is illegal and so is suicide.

Re:While we're at it... (1)

cranos (592602) | more than 6 years ago | (#23139724)

Ummm... not sure how to break it to you, but euthenasia is illegal and so is suicide.

Umm yes and no. Euthenasia is illegal, but suicide isn't. At least in Australia it isn't.

Re:While we're at it... (1)

ta bu shi da yu (687699) | more than 6 years ago | (#23139748)

I stand corrected.

makes no sense (3, Insightful)

nguy (1207026) | more than 6 years ago | (#23139628)

These incidents are, overall, extremely rare. In-flight they are not an issue at all. Furthermore, pilots better be able to deal with them, since there are lots of other sources of bright light that may cause them to be temporarily blinded (or experience the "photic sneeze").

If lawmakers are just itching to make a new law, make it a specific law that says that it's illegal to carry a laser pointer on your person, outdoors, within 2 miles of the runway, where it could be pointed at planes taking off or landing.

Re:makes no sense (1)

Techman83 (949264) | more than 6 years ago | (#23139694)

A lot of Laws in NSW that don't make sense! It is one of the more draconian states of Australia.

Re:makes no sense (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23139732)

1: Instrument approaches start much further from the runway
2: The law only affects Class III and IV lasers, which can cause blindness.
3: The laser pointers used in classrooms are Class II lasers; you should be able to blink before it damages you
4: Dazzling pilots in most likely to occur when the aircraft is in the least recoverable state. Just exactly how do you think the pilot should fly when flashblinded? These things are a whole lot brighter then any lights in the cockpit or on the runway.
5: whlie extremely rare, this stand a serious chance of killing 500 people at a time. risk is the product of probability and consequence. 500 people burnt alive at one time is an extremely high consequence.

Your arguments, sir, are complete and utter bullshit.

Re:makes no sense (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23139888)

As an Australian Commercial pilot I have been victim to these laser attacks before around the Melbourne area. How the fuck are we meant to deal with them? What the hell do you suggest? Put up a fucking mirror? We're either concentrating on approach or gaining altitude, we shouldn't have to worry about some fuckwit with a laser.
If I'm flying VFR and I can't fucking see then I am going I'm going to have an accident.
To be honest this law isn't going to change much, because the problem is they don't know who these morons are, however this should at least stop the sale of the types of lasers which are capable of being used offensively.

Actually, it's a real problem (5, Informative)

caitsith01 (606117) | more than 6 years ago | (#23139908)

There have been half a dozen or so such incidents in Australia in the last few months, including one which involved coordinated beams from multiple locations directed at the same plane.

E.g.:

http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2008/04/08/2211257.htm [abc.net.au]

http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2008/04/11/2214689.htm [abc.net.au]

http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2008/03/29/2202704.htm [abc.net.au]

As an Australian who flies quite a lot, I'm extremely happy for them to ban these things if it stops morons from blinding my pilot on final approach. The fact that there have been coordinated attacks is also evidence that it is more than an incidental problem.

Re:makes no sense (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23139920)

Six times in a week is a bit more than extremely rare...

Hmmm... (1)

DiSKiLLeR (17651) | more than 6 years ago | (#23139636)

Somewhat stupid, sure, like the first post talking about banning headlights so we can't blind other drivers.

But then after stories like this on salshdot: http://slashdot.org/articles/07/08/09/0412215.shtml [slashdot.org] , I'm not the least bit surprised?

The reason they're banning them is .. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23139674)

.. because a number of idiots have been flashing planes on landing approach to the airport.

Apparently whatever lasers they're using are powerful enough to work from several suburbs away, so catching them is quite problematic. They just sit there and flash for 15 minutes and then drive away. By the time the police get there they're long gone, so it's not really feasible to catch the loons.

Luckily no plane's crashed yet, but there's certainly enough danger to warrant the ban. As per usual a few idiots spoil it for the rest of us ..

The laser pointers will look harmless (5, Funny)

antifoidulus (807088) | more than 6 years ago | (#23139716)

compared to the chaos that will ensue after the cats of Australia have found out what lawmakers have done with their favorite toy and rise up as one to slay them.

First they disarmed the wookies (3, Funny)

The Famous Druid (89404) | more than 6 years ago | (#23139718)

and I stayed silent.

Then they disarmed the ewoks, and I stayed silent.

Then they came to disarm me, and there was no-one left to speak up.

So Joe McCarthy had a wookie under his bed.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23139798)

and the ewoks are all teamsters!

Shaky Logic (1, Redundant)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 6 years ago | (#23139768)

Have pilots really been blinded by lasers pointed from the ground? Because the pointer can't get within a thousand feed of a plane, and actually even more at the angles that can reach over the plane's body and into the pilot's windows. At that distance, these laser pointers' beams are spread out pretty wide, so the person pointing them can possibly see the dot from that far away. So the brightness on the tiny fraction of that dot's area that actually falls on the pilot's eye is pretty small. Even more problematic is that your hand shakes. It might be unnoticeable at close range, but tiny angular deflections at the base of an angle extending a quarter mile or more to a plane makes the dot wiggle all over the place. It's hard to aim the laser even close enough to stay anywhere on the whole plane, let alone through the refracting windows and into a pilot's eye, 1/8" across.

It just seem so unlikely. Is there any proven examples of this happening, or is it just paranoia, and maybe totally unrelated pilot errors they're conveniently blaming on something no one else saw, someone impossible to catch if they did exist?

Re:Shaky Logic (1)

Eth1csGrad1ent (1175557) | more than 6 years ago | (#23139880)


It just seem so unlikely. Is there any proven examples of this happening, or is it just paranoia, and maybe totally unrelated pilot errors

See my other post in this thread... but, this isnt just about planes - I've had this done to me while driving my car (at speed) with a passenger in a car travelling beside me pointing a laser in my face to the point where I nearly drove my family through a red light at a major intersection.

Some prick had a laser pointer and decided watching me kill my family would be something cool to see. The only thing missing was the video cam on his mobile so he and his mates could chuck it on youtube.

SO WHAT if the chance of actually permanently blinding a pilot is slim - if you cant prevent it from happening or stop people at the time they do it, then you have to remove the tools - whats your BRIGHT IDEA to stop the bastards among us using them against other people ?

Wasted opportunity! (1)

hedleyroos (817147) | more than 6 years ago | (#23139788)

With all the great white sharks surrounding Australia this would have been the perfect opportunity to equip them with lasers and stave off the Indonesian invasion!

Why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23139844)

Since the police have amply demonstrated that they cannot catch the idiots who misuse the pointers the general public is to be punished.
The idiots will still have their pointers and will still misuse them with impunity.
When you can't control what you're supposed to, you control whatever you can.
Under Australian law any device that projects, casts or shoots anything that is injurious, noxious or noisome is a firearm. We don't need new laws.

Guns don't kill people (4, Funny)

OeLeWaPpErKe (412765) | more than 6 years ago | (#23139850)

Laser pointers do !

Face + palm. (1, Redundant)

rindeee (530084) | more than 6 years ago | (#23139886)

So since a handful of people do something stupid with a laser pointer, AUS outlaws them. I've got to think that far more deaths are caused by car accidents as a result of people being 'brighted'. Will they outlaw high-beams. They should probably outlaw really bright directionally focused light sources altogether. Better outlaw water while they're at it. I mean, look how many people drown every year.

dsh1t (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23139916)

part of GNAA if my bedpost up my ME! It's ooficial risk looking even

Oblig. (4, Funny)

tick-tock-atona (1145909) | more than 6 years ago | (#23139956)

Homer: A high powered laser is not a weapon, Marge, it's a tool. Like a butcher's knife or a harpoon, or... or an alligator.
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