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Are Laser Pointers Illegal? The Federal Rules


When it comes to owning a laser pointer, you may think that are laser pointers illegal? However, depending on which country you reside in, there may be federal and state regulations for what type of laser pointer is legal or illegal.

If you are wondering what laser pointers are illegal, then this article is for you. Now, you may be wondering, why would this be important?

Well, there have been multiple cases where laser pointers have been used, and someone ended up either injured or dead. So, it’s important to keep lasers regulated.

Why Laser Pointers Are Dangerous

If you head onto Google, you’ll notice that there are plenty of news stories where someone has misused a laser pointer, and it ended up causing either a severe injury or even an incident.

The issue with many laser pointers is that they can end up inhibiting someone’s vision if pointed directly in the eye for too long. While most lasers have a safety feature and are created from safe chemicals, there are some that don’t follow these regulations.

Why Laser Pointers Are Dangerous

What Types of Laser Pointers Are Dangerous?

There are four different types of laser beams, and they’re separated into “classes”. This includes Class 2, 3R, 3B, 4. The higher the laser beam is on the class level, the more dangerous it is.

Generally, you’ll find that Classes 2 and 3R are safe and won’t produce any damage to the eyes. On the other hand, Class 3B and 4 are very dangerous and have a high chance of producing permanent eye damage.

The other issue with laser pointers is that they are highly distracting. If someone is doing a job that requires their full attention, a laser pointer can be a real danger.

If flashed in the eyes, a person can have momentary blindness, even if just for a second, which can distract them long enough to end up in a severe and deadly situation.

There have been cases where people have flashed them into pilots’ eyes when they’re flying a plane, and this has caused crashes. There are also times when it’s happened while driving and while operating heavy equipment. Either way, laser pointers should not be used for fun and should only be handled professionally.

Federal Rules

According to federal law, there are strict guidelines when it comes to manufacturers and sellers of laser pointers.

It’s completely legal to sell any laser pointer that has 5mW or less as long as it follows the FDA and CDRH production requirements. These include appropriate labeling, safety features, and quality control of each laser produced.

Now, if you’re someone who’s bought or owns a laser pointer that is deficient or over these regulations, you have nothing to fear. It’s legal for you to own and use one, as it’s not your fault that it’s not up to regulations.

However, as a consumer, it’s best to upgrade to a legal version. In most cases, the FDA will require the manufacturer to issue a repair, recall, or refund on the product.

State Laws Regarding Laser Pointers

When it comes to state laws on laser pointers, the general rule is that aiming a laser pointer at an aircraft, vehicle, or government worker is illegal. Anyone found doing this can risk spending up to five years in prison and be charged a fine of up to a few hundred thousand dollars.

Here is a quick breakdown of the U.S. law regarding laser pointers:

  1. Anyone who knowingly aims a laser at an officer or another person will be punishable by law as a class 1 misdemeanor and will be fined.
  2. A person who aims a laser pointer at an occupied aircraft either intentionally or knowingly without proper training or qualifications can be punished to the full extent of the law. This act is also a class 1 misdemeanor and additional charges such as assault will be added if the person acquires any eye damage.

Laser Pointers

Local Laws Concerning Laser Pointers

Each state and city will have different laws regarding laser pointers. Here is a quick rundown of some of them:

  • Arkansas
    1. Illegal to aim at an officer.
    2. Illegal for a minor to possess one without supervision.
    3. Illegal to sell to a minor and will be fined.
  • California
    1. Anyone who maliciously uses a laser and points it at someone will be charged with a crime.
    2. No student shall be allowed to possess or bring one onto school properties without school-related purposes.
    3. Anyone who uses the laser to point it into a dog’s eye can be charged with harassment or mistreating an animal.
  • Florida
    1. Anyone who shines the light into someone’s eyes who is operating a moving vehicle will be charged with a felony.

As you can see, there are many state and local laws regarding what type of use is punishable by law. If you want to avoid a messy situation, you should brush up on your local laws regarding where and when it’s appropriate to use a laser pointer.

FAQs

Is It Illegal To Have A Laser Pointer in the UK?

big bang tower with a uk flag

In the UK, there are actually no laws related to laser pointers.

To be safe, the government and HPA (Health Protection Agency) agreed that only Class 2 lasers can be sold in the country.

All the store-bought laser pointers in the UK are relatively weak and not dangerous to anyone.

 What if you buy or own a laser pointer higher than Class 2?

That’s not an offense.

However, you will get in trouble if you use it (or intend to use it) to shine in someone’s eyes, at cars, aircraft, etc.

In these cases, it’s considered an offense and you’ll be liable to the CPN (Community Protection Notice) for antisocial behavior.

So while it’s not illegal, you should be careful when using a laser pointer stronger than Class 2.

Are Laser Pointers Illegal in Hong Kong?

Like the UK, there are no laws when it comes to owning laser pointers in Hong Kong.

However, with the frequent protests going on, laser pointers have become a controversy.

This came about when the Hong Kong policemen arrested a man for owning 10 laser pointers.

They argued that he carried with him “offensive weapons”. Though he never used it against the police or anyone.

Naturally, this led to a disagreement between sides on whether laser pointers are weapons or not.

The bottom line is this: Sure, there are no laser pointer laws in Hong Kong. But then again, with recent events, it’s better to stay away from it at the moment, even the weak ones.

Is It Illegal to Point a Laser at a Drone?

drone flying on street in a city

Picture this. You’re relaxing in your garden one afternoon. You suddenly hear a buzzing sound from above.

You open your eyes and there’s a drone over your garden… YOUR GARDEN!

Is it legal for you to grab your laser pointer and flash at it to protect your privacy?

We learned that pointing a laser pointer at an aircraft is illegal.

Well, drones are identified as aircraft as well. Thus, it’s illegal to point a laser at it.

Of course, protecting your privacy is important. But make sure you do it legally – Don’t point your laser at drones!

Can laser pointers damage cameras? Click here to find out!

Conclusion

When considering to purchase a laser pointer, always make sure that the manufacturer is up to date with the regulations for quality control. Also, make sure that you only use the device professionally and be careful not to shine it into anyone’s eyes.

Generally, if you just use it professionally, then you won’t have to worry about any rules or regulations set by the state. Hopefully, this has taught you what laser pointers are illegal.


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