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Debate: Ban on laser pointers

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Sould governments completely ban laser pointers?

Background and Context of Debate:

In April, 2008, after a large increase in the number of laser pointer attacks on aircraft, the NSW Government in Australia banned laser pointers from anyone without a permit. The attacks on planes coming into land at Sydney Airport had been growing, caused pilots to vear from their flight path, and caused delays at airports. Laser pointers if aimed directly at low-flying aircraft's pilots can temporarily blind the pilot, which is very dangerous. The NSW government hopes other states will follow it's lead.

Using laser pointers dangerously was already illegal in NSW but obviously the law wasn't working. Now it is illegal to be in possession of laser pointers unless you have a permit. Since the law has been in place, no laser pointer attacks on aircraft have been reported in NSW. One reason why the government decided to make possession of laser pointers illegal is because it is not hard to catch people with laser pointers but it is hard to catch criminals using them dangerously.

Contents

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Problem: Are laser pointers currently a problem?

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Yes

  • Laser attacks are a growing threat to public safety There have been an increasing number of dangerous laser pointer attacks on aircraft, which can temporarily blind pilots. In March, 2008, a particularly troubling coordinated attack came from four sources on an Australian rescue helicopter. The general manager of the Australian and International Pilot's Assocaition, Peter Somerville, said, "With this latest incident, the level of organisation that has been demonstrated by the perpetrators means that I am sure those state governments will move and move quickly as they should. Previously, of course, we have just had single incidents but this represents a completely new level of threat."[1]
  • Lasers have become more powerful and more affordable Green lasers are more powerful and blinding to the human eye, and have become much cheaper over the years, dropping from prices of over $400 to around $50 more recently. This makes lasers more widespread and a greater potential threat.
  • Lazer pointers are used in attacks on motorists.
  • Lazer attacks are often waged to cause eye damage.


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No

  • Laser attacks on aircraft are rare and offenders are charged. Laser attacks on aircraft are extremely rare. There have never been repeated laser offenders because all offenders have been charged with an illegal offence and will never attack again. Most airports have never reported any laser attacks on landing aircraft and only a few (particularly Sydney Airport) have reported them, although they are rare and do not happen regularly. Pointing lasers at aircraft is the only problem caused by laser pointers and these issues are illegal and uncommon. Lasers are not a huge problem and do not pose an immediate threat to the safety of people.


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Utility: Is there little usefulness to laser pointers?

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Yes

  • The majority of laser pointers are for illegal usage. Most laser pointers these days are purchased through the black market and are used improperly and/or illegally. They are not necessary for anything and are not needed for any reason. All laser pointers these days are unnecessary and most of them are used to cause trouble.
  • There is no practical use of laser pointers that can't be replaced. Laser pointers are completely unnecessary and are not need in today's society for any reason. All types of laser pointers can be replaced for legal, dimmer pointers and can still be used for the right reasons. These legal lasers cannot blind people and are not a danger to the public.



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No

  • Laser pointers are in popular demand. Laser pointers are in very popular demand and sell easily at dear prices. Most people don't use them dangerously and they do have many uses. They are most commonly used to project light onto points in a business presentation. They are convenient to have for all sorts of reasons and in dim light they can easily be pointed to things. They are commonly used for many different reasons and their only use is certainly not just pointing them at landing aircraft.
  • Amateur astronomers use lasers to align telescopes.
  • Amateur astronomers use lasers to give lectures. Lasers are used by astronomers to point into the night sky and give astronomy lessons.
  • Laser pointers are an important tool for lost hikers. Lost hikers can use lasers to signal to airplanes for help. Banning them would eliminate this important safety tool.
  • Business people use lasers to give presentations.
  • Laser pointers are used in many movies.
  • Laser pointers are used by photographers and tour guides to point out flowers and animals at night.


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Punishment: Is jail time a suitable punishment for laser pointer use?

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Yes

News: Pilots welcome jail time for laser offenders

  • The crime is very dangerous. People using laser pointers inappropriately (eg. pointing them at low flying aircraft) is a serious problem. Pointing laser pointers at pilots temporarily blinds them and can cause the pilot to lose control of a low-flying aircraft and crash, killing many people. In places like Sydney, laser pointers have been a huge problem. Pilots have agreed that jail is a suitable punishment for improper use of laser pointers and it is. The use of them can cause serious accidents and that is why the NSW Government has banned them.
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No

  • Possessing a laser pointer does not necessarily mean using it dangerously. Just because someone has a laser pointer, does not necessarily mean that they are going to use a dangerously. Most laser poitners are used sensibly. Jail time is not a suitable punishment for someone in possession of a laser pointer, if they use the laser pointer sensibly and responsibly, not causing any trouble.
  • Jail time is okay, but not up to 14 years in jail. Currently in NSW, anyone caught with a laser pointer and without a permit can get a sentence of up to 14 years in jail. That is not a suitable punishment for not even doing anything dangerous. That is unfair.
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Vs. restriction: Is ban more sensical than restrictions?

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Yes

  • There will always be people breaking the restrictions. With the usage of laser pointers only restricted, they are still legal to be in pocession of. With this law in place, people still point them at aircraft, temporarily blinding the pilot. We need to ban them altogether because restrcting them doesn't work.
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No

  • There are many uses of laser pointers besides causing mischeif. Pointing lasers at aircraft happpens rarely and only a small amount of laser users use them dangerously. Lasers have many different uses including games and pointing to things (eg. on a data projection). Instead of banning laser pointers, we should just restrict their use.
  • Laser pointers can be bought easily through the black market. There is no point totally banning laser pointers, and only in one state, because most laser pointers are purchased online, or through the black market. There is no point banning them because they will always be around. Restricting their usage is a far better solution to problems caused by laser pointers because there is no way of fully banning laser pointers. The law won't work anyway.
  • A laser ban entails a large bureaucracy for enforcement.
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Enforcement: Is a ban enforceable?

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Yes

  • The Government is working to stop black market laser sales. Now laser pointers are banned, the government is watching and making sure that no laser sales occur over the internet or black market.
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No

  • Enforcing laser pointer ban is impossible New South Wales police spokesman Mike Gallacher said a ban would be impossible to enforce - "Creating another offence is useless if there is nobody there to actually enforce it. This Government talks tough and they say we're going to lock you up and all the rest of it, but the crooks know that their chances of being caught are slim."[3]
  • Blackmarket sales of laser pointers will undermine ban. It is impossible to completely and thoroughly wipe out laser pointers in an entire state. There are always people who will still buy through the black market and this is inevitable.


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Legitimacy: Are there no legitimate uses for laser pointers?

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Yes

  • There is no practical use of laser pointers that can't be replaced. Laser pointers are completely unnecessary and are not need in today's society for any reason. All types of laser pointers can be replaced for legal, dimmer pointers and can still be used for the right reasons. These legal lasers cannot blind people and are not a danger to the public.
  • There are enough alternatives to lasers for self defense. There are many alternatives to lasers for self-defense, such as mace, stun guns, knives and batons. While lasers may have some value as a self-defense tool, this value is easily replaceable.


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No

  • Illegal use of lasers (like knives) does not justify ban The Consumer Affairs Ministry in Australia said in June 2008 that it considered lasers to be legitimate, and that attacks were considered "criminal misuse of the product".[4] Indeed, cars can also be used in murderous rampages, but they are not banned. Why laser?
  • Laser pointers are used widely be teachers and lecturers. It is a lot easier for a university lecturer or teacher to simply sit down, talk about what's on the powerpoint or whiteboard, and point to things on the board using their laser pointer. Most laser pointers uses are not harmful and legitimate. Lasers can save time and energy.
  • There are legitimate uses, and people with permits are still allowed to use lasers. There are legitimate uses of laser pointers, but this is not at all a problem for people living in New South Wales. People with permits are still allowed to use laser pointers, so long as they use them properly. Because of this, legitimate users of laser pointers will not be effected.
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Pro/con resources

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Yes


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No


References:

News: NSW bans laser pointers

See also

External links

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