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Old 09-09-2011, 04:52 AM #1
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Arrow Debate: Ban on laser pointers

Sould governments completely ban laser pointers?

This is a very interesting and relevant debate from debatepedia.idebate.org
Here is the opening of the debate basis:

"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."

Here is the actual debate.
Debate: Ban on laser pointers - Debatepedia
The pros and cons are generally valid points.

And here is another interesting one: Debate: Ban on battlefield lasers - Debatepedia

It is interesting to think what the future of this hobby may hold.
Have any valid pros or cons to add?


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Old 09-09-2011, 03:15 PM #2
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Default Re: Debate: Ban on laser pointers

I think you should have to pass a test just like ham radio operators...
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Old 09-09-2011, 04:18 PM #3
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Default Re: Debate: Ban on laser pointers

I guess the first question should have been "Enforcement: Is a ban enforceable?". If it turns out not to be, there is little need to discuss if there should be a ban or not. I suppose australia as an island/country could try to enforce an import ban, although that would not be completely effective either: For one, people can still get the parts in, with the laser diode in a legal product like a dvd burner, projector etc.

As for the battlefield situation: Using lasers to blind the enemy is probably already a violation of the geneva conventions. The only thing to discuss is if the risk of permanent injury is realistic - using lasers to temporarely blind the enemy would probably be legal.

These conventions deal with activities, not with specific weapons. Bullets are used to kill the enemy on the battlefield, which is fine under the conventions. But if you would use the same bullets to intentionally maim enemy soldiers (shoot them all only in the knees or something) this would be a grave violation.
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Old 09-09-2011, 04:32 PM #4
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Default Re: Debate: Ban on laser pointers

Just because parts are easily obtainable does not mean it would be impossible to enforce a ban
For example: There are many items that can be legally bought in a grocery store or hardware that can be used to make explosives, drugs, weaponry of all kinds.... Even though the items are legal it would be debatable of the intended uses of the items.
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Old 09-09-2011, 04:41 PM #5
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Default Re: Debate: Ban on laser pointers

Quote:
Originally Posted by Guyfromhe View Post
I think you should have to pass a test just like ham radio operators...
Exactly, this would make it so that anyone who was serious about the hobby would be able to still own lasers, but would keep out the general public and WL's 13 year olds kids.
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Old 09-09-2011, 08:45 PM #6
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Default Re: Debate: Ban on laser pointers

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Originally Posted by jeffreythe00 View Post
Just because parts are easily obtainable does not mean it would be impossible to enforce a ban
For example: There are many items that can be legally bought in a grocery store or hardware that can be used to make explosives, drugs, weaponry of all kinds.... Even though the items are legal it would be debatable of the intended uses of the items.
Good point.
Crystal meth for instance, all parts are legal, but purchasing certain ingredients
raises red flags. Could use same method.

But people are still cooking it.

I really don't want to liken this hobby to that. I'd even rather combat the idea of outlawing lasers. But safety trumps all.

It really is unfortunate people don't take into consideration the ramifications of misuse.
How many laws do we have in place from one person crossing the line.
Someone always has to ruin it for everybody.
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Old 09-09-2011, 10:09 PM #7
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Default Re: Debate: Ban on laser pointers

Lasers are far too integrated in our daily devices. There is no enforceable law where some realistically employable method could be used- cheaply.
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Old 09-10-2011, 12:02 AM #8
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Default Re: Debate: Ban on laser pointers

Obviously its always a few people that abuse something that ends up in a ban. When some item causes problems, the default action is to ban it, unless it serves a lawful purpose as well.

Countries that ban citizens owning firearms don't ban hammers - although they are very good tools for killing someone if you are prepared to break the law. In this case its probably fairly obvious that most people buying hammers use them to drive nails, but i'd assume that the vast majority of people that buy a laser pointer use it only for legal purposes too.
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Old 09-10-2011, 03:18 PM #9
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Default Re: Debate: Ban on laser pointers

People can't just go banning everything that could cause harm if misused. I mean what CAN'T cause harm if misused? Fireworks, matches, cars, lawn mowers, kitchen knives, rocks on the ground, electricity? Why not just send society back to the dark ages so nobody gets hurt by such dangerous technologies?

Life isn't meant to always be completely safe. The best you can do is educate people and punish those who still insist on making things unsafe.
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Old 09-10-2011, 03:29 PM #10
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Default Re: Debate: Ban on laser pointers

Quote:
Originally Posted by Razako View Post
People can't just go banning everything that could cause harm if misused. I mean what CAN'T cause harm if misused? Fireworks, matches, cars, lawn mowers, kitchen knives, rocks on the ground, electricity? Why not just send society back to the dark ages so nobody gets hurt by such dangerous technologies?

Life isn't meant to always be completely safe. The best you can do is educate people and punish those who still insist on making things unsafe.
Fireworks are banned in many places... Cars you need a license to use, lawnmowers never really leave your property, if you take a kitchen knife to the beach and start pointing it at people it is illegal...

I think licensing would be a great ideal.. It wony prevent accidents and idiots but it will at least make them aware of the dangers and keep that stupid kids away.. There will always be scofflaws but it will probably limit the numbers... Though those stupid kids may be driving the market to give us cheaper lasers

Also as far as lassrs in DVD drives and stuff most people can't be bothered with that...
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Old 09-10-2011, 11:48 PM #11
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Default Re: Debate: Ban on laser pointers

I think licensing is going to be troublesome too. Surely you could implement some law that requires people to have a license when they operate a laser. But what would this accomplish in real life situations?

When people cause problems with lasers such as shining them at aircraft, that in itself would probably already be illegal... and i don't think any sort of extra fine for owning/operating a laser without a license will deter them in such cases.

Its a bit like with driving licenses: by the time someone decides to take a car and start running people over, that person is not going to be very worried about the driving without a license part of his crime. Obviously driving licenses serve a purpose since most people drive on public roads, need to be aware of traffic rules and such, but in most countries it IS perfectly legal to -own- a car without having a drivers license, and its also legal to drive it on private property.

If you would want any analogy to that, you'd need to have a license to operate a laser in (or into) public space, but not to use it in your own home ot just to own it.
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Old 09-11-2011, 12:36 AM #12
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Default Re: Debate: Ban on laser pointers

Quote:
Originally Posted by Benm View Post
I think licensing is going to be troublesome too. Surely you could implement some law that requires people to have a license when they operate a laser. But what would this accomplish in real life situations?

When people cause problems with lasers such as shining them at aircraft, that in itself would probably already be illegal... and i don't think any sort of extra fine for owning/operating a laser without a license will deter them in such cases.

Its a bit like with driving licenses: by the time someone decides to take a car and start running people over, that person is not going to be very worried about the driving without a license part of his crime. Obviously driving licenses serve a purpose since most people drive on public roads, need to be aware of traffic rules and such, but in most countries it IS perfectly legal to -own- a car without having a drivers license, and its also legal to drive it on private property.

If you would want any analogy to that, you'd need to have a license to operate a laser in (or into) public space, but not to use it in your own home ot just to own it.
That's exactly the problem with licenses. They might help with the ignorant stupid kiddies and prevent some genuine accidents, but the real problem comes from people who willfully point at aircraft and vehicles with the intent to cause harm. Lasers are quite attractive to these sociopaths because a laser can cause incredible distraction from a long distance away and unlike guns the laser doesn't make a loud bang attracting tons of attention. The people who want a laser for harm are probably gonna get one without a license anyway since they obviously don't plan on getting caught with it.

We're not like Australia where we could realistically stop the flow of cheap imported pointers. We have way too much stuff coming in from china for customs to realistically check out every package.
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Old 09-11-2011, 12:43 AM #13
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Default Re: Debate: Ban on laser pointers

Banning is a weak option that would be VERY hard to enforce. No matter what you would be able to make them, and it would be VERY difficult to stop all imports.

A good start for the control of stupid people would be VERY HEAVY fines and Jail time for people who choose to use them in a unsafe manner. Perhaps here in the US making it a Felony charge for pointing them at planes and such would deter more people, not the same as some small fine and a small blemish on one's record.
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Old 09-11-2011, 02:25 AM #14
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Default Re: Debate: Ban on laser pointers

Quote:
Originally Posted by Razako View Post
People can't just go banning everything that could cause harm if misused. I mean what CAN'T cause harm if misused? Fireworks, matches, cars, lawn mowers, kitchen knives, rocks on the ground, electricity? Why not just send society back to the dark ages so nobody gets hurt by such dangerous technologies?

Life isn't meant to always be completely safe. The best you can do is educate people and punish those who still insist on making things unsafe.
I tend to agree with this thinking.
Unfortunately look at the direction society is headed.
Like standing up in the front seat of the station wagon as a kid. Didn't seem like such a big deal
(today it may be for the better, but laws of this nature can also be ridiculous)

The 5 Most Popular Safety Laws (That Don't Work) :The 5 Most Popular Safety Laws (That Don't Work) | Cracked.com

Not to get off topic, but another silly thing this reminds me of is our sue-happy society.
Which has accomplished a few things for us:

"-Higher Insurance Rates
-More expensive products and services.
-Lack of opportunities and life experience for children and adults.
-Higher odds of being held liable for someones choice, decision or actions.
-And, a society that is raising children who don't know what taking a risk really means because they are not even allowed to run at school."


Someone has this image here @LPF
It sums it up well
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Old 09-11-2011, 11:08 AM #15
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Default Re: Debate: Ban on laser pointers

If customs simply did more to prevent cheap high-powered laser imports I think it'd go a looong way to taking many of these prone-to-abuse lasers out of the hands of stupid people. Usually if you're going to have to build a laser to own it, or pay more for a FDA certified laser, you're going to have a greater appreciation for its dangers. But when you can go to some shop like Dino Direct or Wicked Lasers and get a high powered laser for relatively cheap, rich dumb kids are going to buy it and cause problems.
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Old 09-18-2011, 11:06 AM #16
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Default Re: Debate: Ban on laser pointers

That would be an interesting customs regulation... sure, you can import lasers, but only if they are over $100? I guess they'd do a good job in earning import tax. I'm not sure how much import tax would be on $100 in australia, but here it would be $19. So as long as the vendor just marks it $100, you'd pay $19 + the actual price of the laser.

We have some experience in trying to ban certain products here, but it never worked out. One example are those mp3 to fm transmitters that you use to listen to your ipod on your car radio. Those are technically illegal in holland (not only to operate but also to sell). They've tried to regulate their use and import briefly, but it quickly turned out to be practially impossible.
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