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Man Who Pointed Laser At Aircraft Gets 30-Month Sentence

timothy posted 1 year,25 days | from the never-point-at-the-2d-location dept.

The Courts 761

coondoggie writes "In a move federal prosecutors hope sends a strong message to the knuckleheads who point lasers at aircraft for fun, a California man was sentenced to 30 months in prison for shining one at two aircraft. According to the FBI Adam Gardenhire, 19, was arrested on March 29, 2012 and named in a two-count indictment filed in United States District Court in Los Angeles that said he pointed the beam of a laser at a private plane and a police helicopter that responded to the report."

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761 comments

Good. (5, Insightful)

ZorinLynx (31751) | 1 year,25 days | (#43281221)

It's because of idiots like this that we can't have nice toys. Laser pointers get banned and people who buy them get looked on with suspicion. All because some morons think pointing them at aircraft is a good idea.

How about we punish the idiots, and let the rest of us have our toys?

Re:Good. (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,25 days | (#43281309)

Of course a very remote secondary consideration is not blinding the pilot and causing a planeload of passengers to crash. A very remote consideration compared to getting my geek on.

Re:Good. (4, Informative)

iggymanz (596061) | 1 year,25 days | (#43281313)

yeah so very sad we can no longer buy laser pointers online powerful enough to bore holes through solid materials....oh wait, you can

http://www.wickedlasers.com.hk/arctic [wickedlasers.com.hk]

Re:Good. (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,25 days | (#43281355)

Because the term "idiots" could be applyed for you too...

The 19yo "idiot" who beamed the laser directly on a place is perhaps a total idiot, but could be a total super math freak and perhaps he works in a lab near you...
I'm a programmer, so I'm not an "idiot" when facing computer... but... I can easily be considered an idiot while doing something else...

you know, it's kinda relative, since we're all idiots in somes areas.

Re:Good. (4, Insightful)

X0563511 (793323) | 1 year,25 days | (#43281383)

Intelligence and Wisdom are two different things.

Re:Good. (5, Funny)

Chrisq (894406) | 1 year,25 days | (#43281573)

Intelligence and Wisdom are two different things.

Don't forget Charisma, Dexterity, Constitution, and Strength

Re:Good. (2)

dragon-file (2241656) | 1 year,25 days | (#43281739)

Of course Int and Wis are two different things. Your Int modifier gets applied to all your knowledge checks and it grants you more skill points. Just effects your Will Save and a few other skills like heal and listen...

Re:Good. (5, Insightful)

lgw (121541) | 1 year,25 days | (#43281591)

Because the term "idiots" could be applyed for you too...

The 19yo "idiot" who beamed the laser directly on a place is perhaps a total idiot, but could be a total super math freak and perhaps he works in a lab near you...
I'm a programmer, so I'm not an "idiot" when facing computer... but... I can easily be considered an idiot while doing something else...

you know, it's kinda relative, since we're all idiots in somes areas.

No, if you're "an idiot" anywhere, you're an idiot. Good judgment and personal responsibility has little to do with education or subject matter.

All of us have a duty to think about the consequences of our actions, and to help remediate the negative outcomes of anything we do. Good intentions count for nothing; making a real effort to limit the harm our action cause to others is what makes an adult.

This wasn't a laser pointer! (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,25 days | (#43281407)

FTFA:

Gardenhire deliberately aimed a commercial-grade green laser at multiple aircraft on that March evening

Also:

The FAA says the increase in annual laser reports is likely due to a number of factors, including the availability of inexpensive laser devices on the Internet; increased power levels that enable lasers to reach aircraft at higher altitudes; more pilot reporting of laser strikes; and the introduction of green and blue lasers, which are more easily seen than red lasers.

People are buying commercial/scientific lasers and using those. Those may be regulated, unfortunately, because of the asshats and ignoramuses out there.

Re:Good. (4, Insightful)

Frederic54 (3788) | 1 year,25 days | (#43281421)

same for magnets, banned them because some people can eat them...

Re:Good. (1, Funny)

iggymanz (596061) | 1 year,25 days | (#43281485)

wireless mice can become lodged in your throat if you try to swallow them! they can cause rectal tears if inserted into the anus! oh my god, we must ban those dangerous things!

Re:Good. (5, Informative)

SternisheFan (2529412) | 1 year,25 days | (#43281773)

The problem today is that some of these handheld lasers are 10X more powerful than they're rated at.

{Low-cost apparatus designed by National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) researchers to quickly and accurately measure the properties of handheld laser devices has shown that nearly 90 percent of green pointers and 44 percent of red pointers tested were out of compliance with federal safety regulations.

Green pointers, which rely on frequency-doubling optics, also emitted “unacceptable” levels of infrared light, reported the team led by NIST Laser Safety Officer Joshua Hadler. It also found one pointer delivering more than ten times the allowable output power in the visible region. Reporting the results of its study on 122 pointers at the International Laser Safety Conference taking place in Orlando, Florida, this week, NIST says that the apparatus has been deliberately designed to be replicated easily by other institutions.

While anecdotal reports of green laser hazards have previously appeared in scientific journals and the media, NIST says its tests are the first reported precision measurements of a large number of handheld laser devices. The tests also showed, unexpectedly, that many red laser pointers are also out of compliance with federal rules as defined by the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR). "Our results raise numerous safety questions regarding laser pointers and their use," the team's paper states.}

http://optics.org/news/4/3/33 [optics.org]

Re:Good. (3, Informative)

liquidpele (663430) | 1 year,25 days | (#43281539)

Toddlers were eating those tiny magnet balls... which is a problem since it'll effectively punch holes in your intestines and kill you. It's not like it was grown men doing it.

Re:Good. (1)

HappyHead (11389) | 1 year,25 days | (#43281641)

It's not like it was grown men doing it.

You'd like to think that. Most people would. Sadly, I can not, because I actually know a (supposedly) grown man who did. Fortunately, he only ate one, and didn't die, but yeah, it happens.

Re:Good. (5, Funny)

An ominous Cow art (320322) | 1 year,25 days | (#43281763)

Eating magnets? What's the attraction in that?

Re:Good. (1)

lancelotlink (958750) | 1 year,25 days | (#43281833)

I've heard that people put one above and below the tongue to look like they have a tongue piercing. The swallowing could just be accidental. Not sure if it works for the tongue, but I've seen it work with ear lobes.

Re:Good. (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,25 days | (#43281685)

Toddlers will eat a handful of thumbtacks if you put it in front of them. Toddlers will drink antifreeze if there's a bowl of it in front of them. Toddlers would climb into a pit of cobras if you gave them a chance.

THERE'S A REASON THERE'S NOT ONE, BUT MULTIPLE WARNINGS ON BUCKEYBALLS NOT TO GIVE TO CHILDREN UNDER A CERTAIN AGE!!!

Stop pussyassifying the world because parents are too goddamn retarded to not give horrendously dangerous shit to their babies. If you want to stop injuries to children, banning things will do ABSOLUTELY NOTHING in this regard. The only people that hurts is adults who actually WANT that stuff.

To save the children, you'd have to make taking a parenting course mandatory for people wanting children, or who are pregnant. Anything else does absolutely nothing but piss off the rest of society, since our loss is purely due to some idiot being as dumb as a bag of hammers (which they'd probably give to their toddler too). Banning shit isn't going to stop toddlers getting injured, the parents will just leave OTHER stupid shit around for the toddler to shove into their mouth and die from.

What, do you want there to be a universal ban on any and all objects smaller than a cubic inch?

Re:Good. (1)

dragon-file (2241656) | 1 year,25 days | (#43281791)

For gun owners and people who are just pro gun in general this line of reason is nothing new. So you have an AR-15 that you use for sport, recreation, and other equally legal things. Too bad. Because this guy just used it to kill someone so we're talking about taking it away from you. You see this everywhere, not just with firearms but it's still my favorite example.

Re:Good. (5, Informative)

Greyfox (87712) | 1 year,25 days | (#43281813)

Oh you can still buy them, just not in buckyball form anymore. Head over to the United Nuclear [unitednuclear.com] website and look for the 10 pound rare earth magnets labelled "Extremely Dangerous Magnet"! Remember, it's not fun if it's not labelled "extremely dangerous!"

Re:Good. (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,25 days | (#43281551)

It's because of idiots like this that we can't have nice toys. Laser pointers get banned and people who buy them get looked on with suspicion. All because some morons think pointing them at aircraft is a good idea.

How about we punish the idiots, and let the rest of us have our toys?

Because it turns out keeping the idiots and morons away from your toys is too much to ask, and you whine about having to lock them up in a gun safe or even the thought of being registered for ownership.

Oh wait, sorry, this is laser pointers, not gun control.

Re:Good. (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,25 days | (#43281649)

Agreed, but if he's a first-time-offender, 30 month is hash, not matter what message they wanted to send...

Re:Good. (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,25 days | (#43281779)

At least he got a trial. He could've been sent to Gitmo for over a decade waiting...

Re:Good. (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,25 days | (#43281793)

I am a commercial pilot who has been "lased" twice - this idiot certainly deserves at least 30 months.

The article doesn't mention the wattage of the laser, though I understand that 500mW or 1W lasers can permanently blind people. This guy should've been charged with two counts of attempted manslaughter, IMHO.

Re:Good. (4, Insightful)

jellomizer (103300) | 1 year,25 days | (#43281851)

Justice or Revenge.

It seems to me 30 Months (2 1/2 years) of prison for someone being a knuckle head is over the top. Yes what he did was dangerous, and he should be punished. But I could see 2 Weeks prison as justice.

  This guy was 19 years old. That 2 1/2 years cost him a good opportunity to get a college education, once he gets out his life is in screwed.

2 Weeks of prison he probably wouldn't do it again.

From the article: (0)

neminem (561346) | 1 year,25 days | (#43281229)

"The helicopter pilot was wearing protective gear and therefore did not suffer eye damage or vision impairment as a result of the laser, the FBI stated."

I have a crazy idea... how about airlines give pilots protective eyewear, and if some bored kid starts shining a laser around, the pilot grabs said eyewear and puts it on?

Re:From the article: (5, Insightful)

iggymanz (596061) | 1 year,25 days | (#43281253)

"let's give pilots kevlar body suits in a suitcase, if someone sprays the cockpit with bullets they can open the suitcase and put the suits on"

Re:From the article: (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,25 days | (#43281307)

Let's put an EMS team on every plan in case a pilot gets blinded and crashes the plane there will be help immediately available.

Re:From the article: (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,25 days | (#43281363)

This might be a valid point....

if you could by guns for $9.99 at the dollar store.

Re:From the article: (1)

iggymanz (596061) | 1 year,25 days | (#43281451)

you can buy old used guns for around $25 (e.g. little .32acp and .22LR pistols, old bolt action .22 short rifles)....what's your point?

Re:From the article: (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,25 days | (#43281697)

Wow let me know were you shop! Last time I was in a gun or pawn shop - maybe a week or two at most ago, even rusty old wall hangers were going for well over $100.00. This in the state of Florida, so not because of it being a restrictive state or city....

Re:From the article: (1)

J'raxis (248192) | 1 year,25 days | (#43281601)

The second part of his suggestion, that they put it on after a laser strike, was silly, but the first is spot-on. Pilots and their aircraft employ all sorts of safety devices against potential hazards, both natural and manmade; if "laser strikes" are now a potential hazard, why not respond with a practical solution? Why is yet another overbearing law always the "solution" some people propose?

Re:From the article: (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,25 days | (#43281693)

Why is the law "overbearing?" It's the same as any crime. Trying to blind pilots with high-powered laser pointers is illegal. Is it so hard to not try and do that? Is it a natural right to do it? Why should the airlines have to spend millions, maybe even billions depending on the solution, to upgrade its entire fleet just so you can aim laser pointers at the plane? Why not just don't try and blind the pilot? That's all the law says, but you act like if you want to buy a laser pointer you have to trade a child or something.

The law says Do X and face the penalty. Don't do X and nobody cares. You say that's overbearing. Your solution is to force the airlines to retrofit all their planes. That's not overbearing?

Re:From the article: (5, Insightful)

michelcolman (1208008) | 1 year,25 days | (#43281803)

And what exactly is the "practical solution" for keeping laser light out of windows which are designed to give pilots the best possible view outside? Any new materials I don't know of that keep laser light out but let other light through so pilots can still see the ground at night?

I don't think it's "overbearing" to make it illegal to shine lasers at aircraft.

I do think the punishment is a bit harsh for a 19 year old first offender who probably had no idea that what he was doing was so dangerous.

Re:From the article: (2)

TheCarp (96830) | 1 year,25 days | (#43281675)

Except.

1. Kevlar takes time to put on and takes up a lot of space, glasses are small and can be put on quickly.
2. A person with a gun at short/medium range is much more likely to hit you in a meaningful way than a moron on the ground with a laser. I would bet that the pilot would have plenty of time to see the dot and grab the protection after he sees it, are there even any documented cases of a pilot being blinded by a laser? How many compared to reports of beams on aircraft? (also of note, passengers being blinded, while not life threatening to the whole plane, is still bad and unconscionable)
3. Embrace the power of AND. Is it perfect? No. However, when you have several hundred $ to transfer across town, you put it in a pocket or wallet, right? You don't, walk down the road with it clenched in your fist, do you? Do you lock the doors on your house? You know, people aren't supposed to break in (its illegal).

Quite simply, there are lots of things we "shouldn't have to do" that we accept we need to do because we know that there are and always will be people out there who are either not too bright, or not terribly morally oriented. Taking precautions against them, especially small, cheap precautions (like door locks and protective glasses) which are effective against some of the more common problems, makes sense.... more sense than doing nothing and dealing with the fallout.

Re:From the article: (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,25 days | (#43281737)

Kevlar takes time to put on and takes up a lot of space, glasses are small and can be put on quickly.

Faster than the speed of light?

Re:From the article: (5, Insightful)

fuzzybunny (112938) | 1 year,25 days | (#43281277)

How about we put the onus for not being an asshole on the people who could cause the damage in the first place, not on those who might (in addition to their passengers) become victims of it?

Lasers can cause eye damage or blind a pilot pretty immediately, without time to put on goggles.

This is a good verdict. Society works if people are not assholes to each other; when they start being assholes, you need laws and enforcement to motivate them not to be.

Re:From the article: (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,25 days | (#43281423)

I would rather cane him instead of feeding and training him to be a real criminal for 30 months. Who know what new tricks he will learn in there?

Re:From the article: (0)

J'raxis (248192) | 1 year,25 days | (#43281677)

The law is stupid because the idea that laws serve as an effective deterrent is stupid.

Remember when they passed that law against __________, and now no one does __________ anymore? Hmm? Yeah, neither do I.

If "laser strikes" are now a potential safety hazard, and the government wants to "do something" about them, they should start requiring pilots to wear appropriate safety gear to protect themselves against laser strikes. See my above comment; the proper response to safety hazards is come up with practical solutions that actually mitigate the hazard, not expect that telling people "don't do it" is suddenly going to stop everyone from doing it.

Re:From the article: (5, Insightful)

rfolkker (443051) | 1 year,25 days | (#43281687)

Thank you, with how many people seem to think that it is the responsibility of the victim to make sure that they are properly protected against idiots, it is nice to hear some sanity.

I personally think 30 months is too short. And the man should have been charged with attempted murder once for every person in each aircraft.

People need to become more conscious of their actions. If you know something "fun" that can kill people, you should still be charged with attempted murder, even if you were too stupid to realize your actions could have resulted in death.

But, you do end up in a grey area of what is a stupid attempt, and what is an honest mistake. However, in this case, it was obviously not a mistake, it was just stupid "fun".

As for his statement that he didn't know it was dangerous only leads to the fact that people are continuously using things without understanding what it is that they use. All laser pointers come with warnings. Even if his friend removed the label before letting his friend use it, the friend should also be responsible for notifying his friend of the dangers.

There is also the fact that this kid was not aware of the fact that it was illegal.

Now I know I am getting old, but the repeated use of the "I didn't know" defense sickens me every time I hear it in the news. What level of stupidity is required for people to do something they have no idea what they are doing?

I have been slowly getting my niece into astronomy, and now I have to deal with keeping up with these idiots causing new laws getting created, so I then have to research them, so that I can continue to teach her how to look at the stars responsibly, and while, it is obvious to keep pointers out of flight paths, now, before going to a new place I need to make sure I am more than 10 miles away from any registered airport.

Re:From the article: (2, Informative)

CastrTroy (595695) | 1 year,25 days | (#43281717)

What kind of accuracy would be required to hit a pilot in the eye from 100m away? The pupil has a radius of probably 5 mm. Using some simple trig, that's .03 degrees. You'd have to be pretty precise to hit a pilot in the eye. Expecially if the plane is moving, which it most certainly is.

Re:From the article: (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,25 days | (#43281725)

Do we really need laws to avoid...assholes? Can't we just shun them? Maybe we can stick to laws to punish people that cause or recklessly threaten and risk harm?

I mean, I'm an asshole... I pride myself in it.

I'm still a member of society, even if outlying. I'm that guy who will ask you to tell your kids to stop playing outside at 0730 AM on a saturday, or keep them quiet. When you don't, there may be a report to the landlord, or gay porn on a widescreen tv in front of an open window. Because fuck off and don't disturb me. I'm that guy with an NRA sticker on his truck parked in the university parking lot right next to a prius. And I'm that annoying developer that negotiated extra vacation for himself, and then told a coworker who commented I seemed to be have unusual leave. Oops. I'm also the one that triaged a bug as PEBKAC directly to a project supervisor and explained right to their face what it meant. Not my fault the idiot hit delete, yes delete forever, proceded to the screen listing a thousand accounts owned by the master account, and then erased the production database from the confirmation page.

Yeap, that's the intended function. Yeap, it gave you plenty of warning, listing every single user, page, and sub account that would be deleted. That's why delete is so damned hidden, and "deactivate" is so prominent. And in the documentaiton and manuals. But sometimes, stuff just has to be deleted -- and the stuff it owns has to be somewhere else first.

If I wasn't an asshole -- I would've feigned sympathy instead of suggesting that maybe next time they'd read the giant red warning and act as if they were literate.

But even I agree -- shining a laser at an aircraft is recklessly indifferent to risk to human life. Lock them up.

There's all types of other things I'd rather argue -- blood alcohol limits vs driving while tired or having woken up in the past hour, cell phones in cars, zoning ordinances, leash laws, and throwing HR and middle management into a mass pit and bulldozing it.

But a laser at a plane? Who the fuck thinks it's appropriate to risk blinding a pilot of an airborne projectile moving at hundreds of knots with 5-500 lives on board?

Re:From the article: (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,25 days | (#43281297)

Because it's been found that if the laser hits the windshield at the right angle, the glass lights up and you can't see out of it. Come on, most of these lasers don't have the power to actually do eye damage and it'd be incredible luck to actually hit somebodies eye, it's the visibility that's the problem.

Re:From the article: (1)

Chatterton (228704) | 1 year,25 days | (#43281487)

A 5mW green laser can blind you for some time. I was pointing my laser to the other side of the room but somehow forgot about the mirror on the other side :( Get it back directly in one of my eyes. I did have a dark spot for some minutes (~10min) like when you look at very bright light.

Re:From the article: (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,25 days | (#43281299)

And while we are at it why not give bullet proof vests to everyone in case someone starts shooting!

Re:From the article: (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,25 days | (#43281305)

That's enabling (and legitimizing) the bad behavior of shining lasers at aircraft. You are assuming this problem can't be fixed, therefore the only solution is to let it happen and make all airline pilots change their behavior so they suffer less.

It's just like legalizing weed. We have a huge chunk of the population that are drug addicts, and instead of finding a way to treat them and help them, we are legalizing weed to keep them enslaved and create even more addicts.

In both cases enabling bad behavior is taking the easy way out. The hard way is actually solving the problem and correcting destructive behavior.

Re:From the article: (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,25 days | (#43281517)

It's just like legalizing weed.

No, really its not.

We have a huge chunk of the population that are drug addicts

"Huge Chunk" is a rather subjective term, and misleading as well.

and instead of finding a way to treat them and help them, we are legalizing weed to keep them enslaved and create even more addicts.

Actually we are legalizing weed because it has real medicinal benefits, despite what they taught you in your 6th grade D.A.R.E. class.

Re:From the article: (1)

TheCarp (96830) | 1 year,25 days | (#43281785)

> It's just like legalizing weed. We have a huge chunk of the population that are drug addicts,

Not even close. We don't Have anything, those people are human beings who have every right to be addicts if they want to. Their body, their choice. Nobody is enslaved, and most of the serious issues around that.... the fact that they are exposed to a violent criminal underground.... is actually a result of prohibition not weed.

If weed were perfectly legal, people would buy it at the store, and if anyone came to their house with a gun and robbed them for their money and weed, they would have police to call who would investigate the crime and arrest the actual violent criminal. This is not the case now, so all you have done is take addicts, and hand them over to violent criminals to use and abuse.

Good job.

Re:From the article: (1)

Chatterton (228704) | 1 year,25 days | (#43281321)

There is a problem with your proposal: The time they grab their eyewear, the beam will be in their eyes :/ They should wear them all time to be effective. And these eyewear generally reduce incoming light and thus what the pilot can see :(

Re:From the article: (2)

valadaar (1667093) | 1 year,25 days | (#43281327)

This is not very far from blaming the victim here.

Re:From the article: (1)

neminem (561346) | 1 year,25 days | (#43281521)

It really isn't. I'm not suggesting that people *shouldn't* get in trouble for it, I'm just suggesting that there will always be people who either won't know or won't care that it's dangerous and they could get in trouble for it, so if it's a real concern, those affected might also want to take precaution. How is that different from suggesting that people put on their seatbelts or wear bike helmets, because they might get hit? Yes, it would be nice if nobody ever hit anyone else with their car, but that's not likely to happen, at least not until cars are all self-driving. So until then, I will continue to wear a seatbelt, to protect me from serious injury in accidents, even those that I had no fault in.

(I do understand, though, that you wouldn't want to wear protective glasses all the time while piloting a long commercial flight, so it would only help if you could see that a laser was being shone on your plane *before* it got into the cockpit and into your eye. This is admittedly a more serious flaw in that plan.)

Obligatory (1)

QilessQi (2044624) | 1 year,25 days | (#43281335)

"WARNING: Do not look into laser beam with remaining eye."

...oh, no remaining eye? Sucks to be you. Or your passengers...

Re:From the article: (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,25 days | (#43281339)

Yes, because those "sunglasses" (you'll practically need a welder's mask glass) will go really well at night, when the pilot is approaching the airport for landing. That's when those idiots with lasers usually act out.

Re:From the article: (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,25 days | (#43281529)

Really??? Because you could get blinded before you put it on. Even if you don't get blinded, the time spent doing that creates a distracted pilot. You don't want distracted pilots. Wear them all the time? Also uncomfortable and annoying. You don't want an uncomfortable pilot. Furthermore, what wavelengths do you block and what does that do to the visibility of cockpit information? Block red? Oops! We need an alternative color for those warning lights now. We don't even know what color the laser is going to be. How about shutter glasses that can respond to the beam quickly enough to block the light, or cockpit windows that can do that? How about a video-screen in front of the windows with a display? You would only fold the screen down and look directly out the window if the camera malfunctioned. Now we're talking about a very expensive retrofit on all those aircraft because of some jerks. I think it really is easier to go after the jerks, at leas for now.

Re:From the article: (-1, Flamebait)

J'raxis (248192) | 1 year,25 days | (#43281581)

I have a crazy idea... how about airlines give pilots protective eyewear, ...

Hah. Why would you expect the government to try to come up with real solutions to problems when they can instead create a panic and use it as a pretext for more laws?

Re:From the article: (1)

yurtinus (1590157) | 1 year,25 days | (#43281689)

Or... y'know... just don't point lasers in peoples eyes. That *is* assault you know. If the laser is powerful enough, it's capable of grievous bodily harm in the form of quite permanent blinding. So yeah, I'd say the sentence is quite good, maybe even a little light.

Picture it another way - guy standing next to a road at night pointing it into the windshield of oncoming cars. What exactly does that guy *think* will happen?

All those old laser devices (1)

Freshly Exhumed (105597) | 1 year,25 days | (#43281245)

Authorities may seek to regulate or prohibit the use of laser pointers, but there is a horse that has left the barn long ago: the lasers used in CD/DVD/game players are much, much more powerful than laser pointers. Hardware hackers can collect several dozen old boom boxes, hook up their laser emitters, and thus create very formidable weaponry.

Re:All those old laser devices (1)

earlzdotnet (2788729) | 1 year,25 days | (#43281317)

I have a friend who has a laser pointer in the watt range. He apparently ordered it online, which I could have swore was not strictly legal. That thing is more powerful than any laser used for reading media. It will heat up dark surfaces quickly and it's bright enough that if you point it straight up, you can see it from at least 20 miles away, especially when it's cloudy.

Re:All those old laser devices (4, Informative)

fuzzybunny (112938) | 1 year,25 days | (#43281379)

They are tremendously useful for stargazing - e.g. green laser collimators are fantastic tools for pointing out celestial objects or aiming a telescope.

Also, long-distance cat annoying.

Re:All those old laser devices (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,25 days | (#43281507)

It will heat up dark surfaces quickly and it's bright enough that if you point it straight up, you can see it from at least 20 miles away, especially when it's cloudy.

Really? In the "watt" range, eh? Assuming you're talking about a 532 nm green pointer, it'd take about 20 watts of IR to generate a watt of green light. I've worked with Class IV lasers for many, many years and have never seen even a 50 watt argon laser that could be seen that far away, much less some 100 mW green pointer.

Re:All those old laser devices (5, Insightful)

fuzzybunny (112938) | 1 year,25 days | (#43281333)

Hardware hackers can also pop down to the nearest gun shop, pick up a .30-06 hunting rifle, and start potting away at airplanes, injuring or killing the pilot, hitting a fuel line, or otherwise causing it to fall down go boom.

People generally don't because it's understood that (a) doing so is malicious and destructive, and (b) there are laws prohibiting it with very severe punishment as consequences.

There are a lot of things in this world that are potentially dangerous weapons, including high-powered lasers. Banning them isn't the answer, but making it very clear that they're dangerous and that you're not to treat them like toys definitely is.

Re:All those old laser devices (1)

tlhIngan (30335) | 1 year,25 days | (#43281613)

Hardware hackers can also pop down to the nearest gun shop, pick up a .30-06 hunting rifle, and start potting away at airplanes, injuring or killing the pilot, hitting a fuel line, or otherwise causing it to fall down go boom.

People generally don't because it's understood that (a) doing so is malicious and destructive, and (b) there are laws prohibiting it with very severe punishment as consequences.

There are a lot of things in this world that are potentially dangerous weapons, including high-powered lasers. Banning them isn't the answer, but making it very clear that they're dangerous and that you're not to treat them like toys definitely is.

Problem is, while guns it's fairly obvious that they're dangerous, laser pointers is a lot harder. Plus, unless you're close to an airport, the distance between the airplane and the gun is generally a lot larger and short of full auto, it's really damn hard to shoot and hit an aircraft when you only can do it one shot at a time. Of course, one could pick up a nice sniper rifle, but presumably if you're putting that much money down on a gun, you're probably not going to use it to shoot at random targets.

First, we keep referring to them as laser pointers, when they're really just plain old lasers. Most of the public thinks a laser pointer is the cheap $20 harmless thing you use during presentations. Their size and shape doesn't help, either - they look just like large flashlights - pretty harmless stuff.

They're also incredibly cheap for what they are.

So most people don't actually realize they hold a weapon in their hands and that they really are quite dangerous. After all, they see all the cool balloon popping on YouTube and they buy 'em to replicate that.

About the only way to correct this is to basically convince people that these handheld cheap lasers aren't toys. Heck, most of the people buying them probably skip the laser safety goggles as well (unless included for free) - they're just cheap harmless toys, after all, right? If they were dangerous, they'd be more expensive, right?

Re:All those old laser devices (1)

fermion (181285) | 1 year,25 days | (#43281767)

Amazingly enough people who are smart enough to take apart things or bypass security are also smart enough not to do stupid pointless things. Otherwise there would be a whole bunch of really injured people because I was bypassing the failsafes on microwave ovens, CD players, and the like as soon as I owned one. Yet I am still alive and never have to go to the hospital.

Like script kiddies, the problems occur when we automate the silly behavior to the point where the mindless masses can exploit it. Someone who can make a gun from scratch is probably not nearly as likely to be part of massacre than someone who just buys one.

Deserved it (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,25 days | (#43281255)

People like him are making things difficult on all of us laser enthusiasts with their completely asinine behavior.

Sounds reasonable (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,25 days | (#43281279)

I am perfectly okay with this.

Lets have background checks (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,25 days | (#43281343)

I want my toys, why ban them in the name of some safety issue. Then only the government can have them. Background checks should work if they are so dangerous. I would like to see why background checks won't work, perhaps the gun owners would be interested also.

Sentence is too long (2, Insightful)

Tynin (634655) | 1 year,25 days | (#43281403)

We are tossing a 19 year old kid into the system for 2 and 1/2 years over shining a light. Without a doubt he could have caused more harm than he did, but to take away the beginning of his adult life... just seems wrong. Make him do a few thousand hours of community service while on probation will do more good for everyone than teaching him to be a professional convict at this point in his life.

Re:Sentence is too long (1)

mcmonkey (96054) | 1 year,25 days | (#43281473)

We are tossing a 19 year old kid into the system for 2 and 1/2 years over shining a light. Without a doubt he could have caused more harm than he did, but to take away the beginning of his adult life... just seems wrong. Make him do a few thousand hours of community service while on probation will do more good for everyone than teaching him to be a professional convict at this point in his life.

My he serve as warning to others. [despair.com]

Re:Sentence is too long (4, Insightful)

SirGarlon (845873) | 1 year,25 days | (#43281491)

And if he had gotten his wish, and crashed the aircraft, how long should we have locked him up then?

Re:Sentence is too long (1)

Tynin (634655) | 1 year,25 days | (#43281617)

Well, at that point they would be trying him for manslaughter (or worse, depending on the evidence), and the sentencing that goes with that.

Re:Sentence is too long (3, Insightful)

raju1kabir (251972) | 1 year,25 days | (#43281531)

He deliberately put people's lives at risk. If anything, the sentence is too short. He doesn't need to be in a maximum security facility, but he needs to be taken out of circulation for a while, both to teach him a lesson and to serve as a warning to others who might be tempted to do the same thing.

Harsh but probably well deserved (3, Interesting)

supertrooper (2073218) | 1 year,25 days | (#43281445)

The only issue I have is that this kid, probably non-violent dumb-ass, will come out of prison where he will experience many bad things, and probably learn many many bad things. When he comes out he probably won't be as non-violent any more.

Most horrible non-lethal weapon idea still (1)

earlzdotnet (2788729) | 1 year,25 days | (#43281467)

Get a powerful laser. Mount it with a spinning set of mirrors. Put it into a "grenade" form with a time delayed trigger. After spinning it around a room for say 5 seconds, everyone should be either sufficiently blind or at least keeping their eyes closed to prevent blindness.

misuse of sentencing (5, Insightful)

X0563511 (793323) | 1 year,25 days | (#43281489)

Sentencing should be for punishment/rehabilitation and not to "send messages."

That kind of shit needs to go away. That's why we have "hackers" getting put away longer than rapists, or issues like Aaron Schwartz.

Re:misuse of sentencing (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,25 days | (#43281557)

When people hack arms and legs off, it's far more damaging than rape. So of course hackers should be given longer time in jail.

Re:misuse of sentencing (3, Insightful)

Omnifarious (11933) | 1 year,25 days | (#43281571)

There are a lot of reasons for punishment. Deterrence is a valid reason. The possible harmful consequences of this action are extreme. This kind of reckless behavior could easily result in multiple deaths. I think a little bit of extreme deterrence is warranted.

Aaron Schwartz's behavior might've hurt someone's profits someday, and really didn't hurt anybody. It took up the time of a few admins who decided to try to stop him and that's about it. There is no societal need for a high level of deterrence there.

Crewel and unusual punishment (5, Interesting)

bussdriver (620565) | 1 year,25 days | (#43281657)

By "sending a message" they are by their own admission, using an unusual punishment.

Sure, this is an interpretive call on the meaning of "unusual" and judges are extremely unlikely to limit their own power by using a broad definition, just as they are unlikely to limit their power by using a narrow definition.

Apparently, California's prison lobby has not been deterred by the budget problems and overcrowding. We have the technology, house arrest for 30 months would be more reasonable.

Drones? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,25 days | (#43281533)

What about shining a laser pointer at a drone? What about shining one at a drone that is 5' over your house?

Re:Drones? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,25 days | (#43281743)

At that range, you're better off throwing a handful of small rocks at it, and more likely to hit.

Punishment fetish wins again (5, Insightful)

TheCarp (96830) | 1 year,25 days | (#43281553)

Ok this guy did something monumentally stupid which, most certainly should serve as example for others. Done. Now whats with the 30 months in prison? Why must this guy be a felon? Now unable to leave the country, unable to vote in most places, unable to own a firearm.... all for something stupid that, he is unlikely to ever do again.

The punishment fetish in this country really needs to be checked, punishments are totally out of whack with crimes when we have people losing their rights indefinitely over something which, while it could have been disasterous wasn't, and more would have been served (and just as useful an example set) by using it as a teaching moment than by ruining this guys life and making crime one of his best options going forward.

But hey, the harsh punishment crowd can go stroke themselves over it, so someone benefits.

Re:Punishment fetish wins again (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,25 days | (#43281815)

It simple. You do the crime, you do the time.

In Germany this crime would be "dangerous interference with railroad, ship and airplane traffic" punishable with prison for six months to ten years, minor cases 3 months to 5 years. I'd guess it is similar in the US.

It is however the first time I hear somebody prosecuted for shining lasers at airplanes.

Why? (3, Funny)

Lumpy (12016) | 1 year,25 days | (#43281647)

Why not public stockades for 10 days and allow the public to throw old food at him, totrure him, humiliate him, and even give him some corporal punishment?

Why the hell dont we do this anymore to people so they actually learn?

Sending a message (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,25 days | (#43281655)

federal prosecutors hope sends a strong message

I've never understood this message sending that prosecutors/judges/etc go on about.
If I'm going to aim a laser pointer at a plane, I'm not first googling the punishment for it. Nor for any other (potential) crimes.

Who is this message being sent to exactly?

They got it backwards (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,25 days | (#43281673)

Should have jailed the pilot for flying into the laser path. The kid was obviously just point out a star.

30 months really? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,25 days | (#43281683)

i understand that it isnt the brightest to point a laser pointer at a helicopter or airplane but 30 months really? This wont have a positive effect on anyone, chances are they just ruined this kids life just so they could "make a strong point". We need to start looking at what we can do to make things better not just how we can punish someone because they did something we dont agree with. All this is going to do is cost tax payers dollars and ruin a kids life, neither of which i stand behind as a tax payer

Wow, 30 months! (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,25 days | (#43281817)

If he had played football and raped somebody, he would have received a far more lenient sentence.

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