Canada Looks At Laser Pointer Ban

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Canada is looking at banning some types of laser pointers after its Transport Minister ordered his staff to look at “all possible options” to halt laser attacks on aircraft. Marc Garneau called a news conference last week after there were six reported incidents at Trudeau International Airport in Montreal over two days earlier this month. Garneau said the incidents made him “very, very mad” and spurred the action. He didn’t confirm a laser pointer ban but did say there would be an announcement in the next few weeks. 

Laser incidents have actually decreased significantly in the last couple of years, from 590 in 2015 to 379 in 2017 but Garneau isn’t satisfied with that. “That’s not enough. We need to do more,” he said. Two years ago, Garneau’s department began an education campaign describing the danger and outlining the serious penalties those who point lasers at airplanes face ($100,000 fine and five years in jail) but Garneau said those who are responsible for most of the attacks “know darn well what they’re doing.” He said the forthcoming announcement will be “more than just simply continuing the education program.” Government sources told CTV News that could include a ban on imports of especially powerful laser pointers, mandatory warning labels and even stiffer penalties.

Comments (8)

When laser pointers are outlawed, only outlaws will have laser pointers.

Posted by: YARS (Tom Yarsley) | February 19, 2018 5:50 AM    Report this comment

Well that makes it easy, shoot everybody with a laser pointer.

Posted by: Richard Montague | February 19, 2018 10:56 AM    Report this comment

Well, that makes it easy, shoot everybody who has a laser pointer.

Posted by: Richard Montague | February 19, 2018 10:58 AM    Report this comment

Correct, YARS. This is just another example of government thinking that if they just throw enough laws at a problem, it will go away. Stupid people who point lasers at aircraft know it is illegal, but they do it anyway. Same goes for drone pilots that play chicken with airplanes. Unfortunately, you can't fix stupid.

Posted by: John McNamee | February 19, 2018 11:03 AM    Report this comment

This is a situation which could look to behavioral economics for a solution. The laws prohibiting usage are good. The problem is with people who do not understand, on an emotional level, the impact of their behavior.
Of course simply eliminating the manufacture and sale of these items would be helpful as well.
I'm not sure what their legitimate usage is anyway, other than serving as an electronic "pointer" when giving a lecture.

Posted by: Richard Katz | February 19, 2018 12:11 PM    Report this comment

"I'm not sure what their legitimate usage is anyway, other than serving as an electronic 'pointer' when giving a lecture." Well, that's how I use my two laser pointers. Shall we require a background check and a License to Lecture, with a Laser Pointer Rating? Would that prevent even one instance of the unlawful pointing of lasers at aircraft?

Posted by: YARS (Tom Yarsley) | February 19, 2018 12:24 PM    Report this comment

Richard, the green, higher powered lasers often pictured are sometimes used for astronomy purposes. I own a Meade pointer that is intended as a visual pointing aide to point out constellations or other stars at night. The green light reflects enough dust and moisture in the air to make a good pointing device for your eyes to follow. The lower powered red units don't work very well for that.

As a pilot, I carefully avoid using it whenever aircraft are in the vicinity. Unfortunately, there are those people who use them for illicit purposes. Whether, as you say, they fail to understand the impact of their behavior, or they just don't care, changing their behavior is difficult. As with many laws, banning the lasers will only make it difficult for the honest users. It is a typical knee-jerk government reaction that offers little in solving the problem.

Posted by: John McNamee | February 19, 2018 12:28 PM    Report this comment

Lasers are very common in construction, farming, survey, sighting weapons and aviation maintenance. The Canadians should just ban aircraft.

Banning aircraft will solve all kinds of noise, safety and economy issues. If all their politicians would quit flying everywhere it would save them billions.

Who's more stupid? the person pointing lasers at aircraft or the politician writing unenforceable laws?

Fight ridiculous with ridiculous eventually ridiculous wins.

Posted by: Klaus Marx | February 20, 2018 10:30 AM    Report this comment

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