A comprehensive resource for safe and responsible laser use
Both men lived in a Fort Myers (Florida) apartment complex, in units identically numbered "102". Ryan Modell, 32, had been heavily drinking on March 19 to celebrate a new job. At about 2:30 am on March 20, Modell — wearing only shorts— knocked on the door of 46-year-old Steve Taylor, in a different unit 102.
Taylor got his 10 mm Glock handgun and answered the door. He told Modell he had the wrong unit, but to Taylor, the intoxicated Modell didn't respond and appeared drugged. Taylor said he pointed the gun at Modell, warning him not to approach, but Modell charged.
Taylor closed the door, injuring Modell's toe. Taylor's wife called police. Taylor went outside and found Modell hosing off his bloody toe. Taylor aimed the gun at Modell and turned on the laser pointer aiming device. That is when Modell sprayed water, made threats and charged.
Mark O'Mara, a lawyer for Modell's father, said Modell had an understandable reaction for a person who thought he was about to be shot. He said "If you put a laser on my chest, there is one of two things I am going to do: duck and run, or kill you."
Taylor says he fired when Modell was within two feet; O'Mara says evidence indicates it was several feet back.
The 2016 case became controversial due to Florida's "stand your ground" law being used. In January 2020, O'Mara asked Florida's governor to appoint a special prosecutor to reinvestigate the shooting, and wants Taylor charged with second-degree murder.
Noah Bigham aimed a 9mm handgun which had a built-in laser pointer sight at his lifelong friend Hunter Cooper's eyes, to distract him during a game. Bigham pulled the trigger, firing the gun and killing his 15-year-old Cooper.
He was arrested and was charged as a juvenile with reckless homicide, a third-degree felony if committed by an adult.
Bigham's attorney called the killing "unintentional": "“The home, unfortunately, had complete access to handguns. It is my understanding the juveniles were able to have about unfettered access to firearms. This is what happens when you have firearms accessible. It’s just awful."
A police detective declined to say whether it was an accident: “We definitely can’t acknowledge an accidental shooting. We’re treating it as any shooting would be, at this point. In any investigation like this, you can’t rule anything out.”
From the Columbus Dispatch
The Virginia Beach City Public Schools’ “Code of Student Conduct” prohibits weapons in school. It specifically addresses pointers: “When a laser pen is used to threaten, intimidate or injure, it is considered a weapon.”
The boy’s father, Paul Mulcahy, told LaserPointerSafety.com that his son only aimed a legal, low-powered laser pointer at lockers and the wall in Landstown Middle School. He said it was never used in an aggressive or potentially harmful manner. Mulcahy's account was not disputed by the school.
Mulcahy wrote “no kid should be suspended or expelled for having a cat toy at school…. A ‘spork’ from the cafeteria if used to threaten, intimidate or injure would be a more likely weapon than a 2 mW laser pointer.”
During an initial meeting on May 30, principal John Parkman told Mulcahy he was instructed to use a “Discipline Guidelines” document not available to parents, students or the public. The principal did email the father a page from the Discipline Guidelines about laser pointers which seemed to restate the Code of Conduct language. (The VBCPS Office of Student Leadership confirmed on June 11 that the Discipline Guidelines are "administration-only.")
At a second meeting on June 2, the principal said the VBCPS Office of Student Leadership decided the infraction was “Inappropriate Property” and there would be no further punishment or action beyond the two-week suspension that had already occurred.
The Code of Student Conduct defines inappropriate property as follows: “The unauthorized possession of use of any type of personal property, which disrupts the educational process, is prohibited. Specifically prohibited are electronic devices when they are not authorized or being used for academic purposes (including cell phones), lighters and other items deemed inappropriate….”
In the Discipline Guidelines, the recommended penalty for Inappropriate Property depends on the property. One option is a verbal warning or reprimand called “Level 1.” The penalty for the boy turned out to be Level 6, suspension 6-10 days. As stated above, Mulcahy had been told that expulsion was also possible. Expulsion is "Level 8," the highest punishment level.
On June 9, the school returned the laser pointer to Mulcahy.
Mulcahy says he has retained a lawyer and may take action against the principal and/or school board.
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During the Iran/Iraq War [Sept. 1980-August 1988], Iranian soldiers suffered over 4000 documented eye casualties from Iraqi laser systems, enough to indicate Iraq's employment of some laser systems specifically for their casualty- producing effect. The Iranian casualties showed effects caused by different types of lasers, which was indicative of the mix of western and Communist-block systems in the Iraqi inventory.
The injuries, described as retinal burns and hemorrhages, reportedly were caused by a laser device associated with Iraqi tanks. The reported injuries could have been inflicted by a visible or near-infrared laser, most likely a tank-mounted ruby or neodymium/glass laser rangefinder.
Laser eye injuries probably occurred as a result of the use of tank-mounted laser rangefinders or other laser systems. These systems possibly were used in an offensive, antipersonnel mode, with the explicit purpose of blinding troops. Hand-held laser rangefinders and designators associated with armor or artillery could be used in an attempt to dazzle, disorient, or blind personnel in low-flying aircraft (fixed and rotor wing).
Lasers also have been purchased by Iraq presumably for military application. It was reported that Iraq fielded these lasers as antisensor or antipersonnel weapons; however, no confirmation exists to support this report.
The article is from the Federation of American Scientists which is based on information in a U.S. AFMIC ”Special Weekly Wire” dated the 32nd week of 1990 (August 5-11). The AFMIC report does not state the figure of “over 4000” casualties. This figure comes from a GulfLink document produced by the CIA in June 1997, according to John Pike of GlobalSecurity.org.
In correspondence with LaserPointerSafety.com dated May 16 2018, Pike wrote “the document is authentic, though as with many of the GulfLink documents, the provenance is a bit difficult to establish.” The GulfLink “collection of declassified military and intelligence documents concerning Gulf War Illnesses, is a unique treasure-trove of both recent US intelligence products, as well as insights into Iraq's special weapons programs” according to GlobalSecurity.org.
The AFMIC report is also echoed in a December 2000 article from Armada International that contains additional interesting information on “eye-safe” lasers used for rangefinding.
This was the first report of Russian use of a laser to blind, which is prohibited by the United Nations “Protocol on Blinding Laser Weapons”. The protocol bans the use of “laser weapons specifically designed, as their sole combat function or as one of their combat functions, to cause permanent blindness to unenhanced vision, that is to the naked eye or to the eye with corrective eyesight devices.”
From Ukraine Today; original story from Interfax-Ukraine
A news story states “It’s not clear if the men had any weapons.”
For about 25 minutes, the polls were closed while the “weapon” was located and was determined to be a laser pointer.
The incident occurred at the W.A. Todd Ninth Grade Campus.
An example of a gun-shaped laser pointer. This particular unit emits a 100 mW beam and costs USD $68. An Internet search turns up a wide variety of gun-shaped novelty and toy laser pointers, including some that also have a lighter built in, and a gag pointer that shocks the user when they pull the trigger.
From the Kansas City Star
The replica gun, emitting a red laser beam, used to harass motorists.
The officer was on patrol in Kittery, a seaside town at the southern tip of Maine, when he saw a red laser beam in his cruiser. He then saw the beam on other vehicles as well.
The officer pulled up behind the car of Seth Christman, and arrested him. Christman was charged with criminal use of a laser pointer under Maine Title 17-A Sec. 1002-A. The Class D misdemeanor prohibits intentionally pointing a laser beam at a police officer or a “reasonable person” for the purpose of intimidating and attempting to harm.
Christman’s next hearing in York District Court is set for March 5 2014.
The Flagler County (FL) Sheriff’s Office said that William Merrill, 32, and his wife Stefanie were at their Palm Coast, Florida home in their master bathroom while their 3-year-old daughter was taking a bath. Merrill pointed the AK-47 at his wife to show her the laser’s beam. The two were talking about how bright the beam was when the gun fired once. Stefanie died at the scene.
On February 23, Merrill was arrested for manslaughter and for possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. He had been convicted in 2007 on grand theft and other charges.
From the Orlando Sentinel
UPDATED October 30 2012 - William Merrill was sentenced to 25 years in prison. The minimum he could have received was 10 years, and the maximum was 30 years.
The “possession of a firearm by a convicted felon” charge was dropped when Merrill pleaded guilty to the manslaughter charge. (He could have received up to 45 years if given the maximum under both charges.)
During trial the prosecutor said “I don’t believe, and it’s not our position that Mr. Merrill intentionally killed his wife that morning.” But, he said, Merrill’s actions were egregiously reckless and disregarded safety.
When pronouncing sentence, the judge noted that Merrill had a stash of over 20 firearms and he violated the most basic of firearm rules. The judge concluded that it did not matter if it was an accident, Merrill was guilty of killing his wife.
Condoleeza Rice, Secretary of State at the time, sent the cable to the U.S. Embassy in Beijing. Rice said that China’s actions were “provocative and inconsistent” with the law of the sea” and “constitute serious harassment and elevate the risk of miscalculation.”
Washington Times reporter Bill Gertz, who broke the story, was unable to find out whether the light was a laser or a high-powered searchlight. Gertz also pointed to parallels with the 1997 suspected laser use by the Russian merchant ship Kapitan Man.
From the Washington Times
Analysis: Based on the color, LaserPointerSafety.com believes it is a conventional light. To produce a white light beam with lasers requires superimposition of three or more single-color lasers. This is more difficult than using a single-color laser, and would not provide any significant benefit in a situation such as the ship attack. (If countermeasure anti-laser goggles are being used, then it may be beneficial to use multiple wavelengths. It is more difficult to defend against multiple wavelengths, and doing so would reduce conventional visibility since red, green and blue light would all be blocked. Even here, balancing the wavelengths to produce a “white” light is not necessary.)
Officers responded to a report of a suicidal man with a gun. They ordered 44-year-old Charles James Bishop to drop the realistic-looking pistol. When he raised it towards them and the laser moved towards the officers, they fired.
More details from RGJ.com