A comprehensive resource for safe and responsible laser use

Australia: Pointers to be banned in the ACT

The Australian Capital Territory (ACT) government will ban high-powered laser pointers under the Prohibited Weapons Act of 1996, Minister for Police and Emergency Services Simon Corbell announced today.

“These amendments will make it an offense to possess or use powerful handheld laser pointers and are consistent with other jurisdictions that have moved to prohibit these items,” Corbell said in a statement. “Police will have the power to apprehend and prosecute a person who uses a laser pointer to target aircraft or vehicles.

"The increasing number of incidents involving people using these items to target aircraft and vehicles creates a significant risk to the community and cannot be ignored," he said.

In the last 12 months, there have been seven reported instances of lasers being used to target aircraft in the ACT alone.

“Laser pointers are dangerous when misused in this fashion, as they distract pilots and may even cause eye damage," Corbell said.

The Federal Minister for Home Affairs, Bob Debus, has announced that from July 1 this year anyone seeking to import powerful laser pointers will be required to have an appropriate exemption. Certain professional, technical and scientific groups, including astronomers, academics and surveyors, will be exempt.

A national approach to the prohibition of high-powered laser pointers will be discussed during a national Police Ministers meeting Friday in Sydney.

“The Firearms Amendment Bill 2008 will increase the maximum penalty for the possession or use of a prohibited weapon to five years imprisonment and/or a $50,000 fine, and is due to be debated during the next sitting of the ACT Legislative Assembly on June 17 to 26,” Corbell said.

The ban of high-powered laser pointers will come into place immediately after passage of a firearms amendment bill, the agency said.

From Photonics.com