Sens. Kirk, Whitehouse Introduce Bipartisan Legislation to Prohibit the Use of Laser Pointers to Target Aircraft

WASHINGTON–(ENEWSPF)–September 26, 2011.  U.S. Senator Mark Kirk (R-IL) today joined Senators Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Daniel Inouye (D-HI), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Barbara Boxer (D-CA), and Bob Casey (D-PA) in introducing bipartisan legislation to crack down on individuals who shine laser pointers at aircraft – an action that can temporarily blind pilots and put passengers at risk. The legislation would make it a crime to knowingly aim a laser pointer at an aircraft, and subject violators to fines or imprisonment for up to 5 years. The bill exempts those using lasers for legitimate aviation purposes such as research and development, training, or emergency signaling.

“This bipartisan effort is a simple solution to a life-threatening game of targeting airplanes with lasers, which continues to be on the rise,” Senator Kirk said. “I hope this bill serves as a wake-up call to violators and curbs this dangerous practice.”

“Aiming the beam of a laser at an aircraft puts passengers and crew in danger,” said Whitehouse. “With these incidents occurring increasingly often, prosecutors must have strong tools to punish and deter this dangerous conduct.”

According to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the number of reports from lasers being pointed at airplanes nearly doubled in 2010 – to more than 2,800. In 2010, Los Angeles International Airport had the highest number of laser events of any individual airport with 102 reports. Chicago’s O’Hare’s International Airport ranked second during 2010 with 98 incidents. The increase in incidents appears to be caused by the increasing availability of new, high-powered laser devices.

Earlier this year Sens. Kirk and Whitehouse offered this legislation as an amendment to the FAA Air Transportation Modernization and Safety Act. The bipartisan amendment passed the Senate by a 96-1 vote and a similar measure passed the House without controversy. The larger bill has been held up, prompting the bipartisan bill to be introduced as a stand-alone measure.

Source: kirk.senate.gov