Laser-pen attackers to end up in prison

Following a set of outrageous incidents, parliament has decided to criminalize attacking people with laser pens.

The law passed in the first reading will punish the attackers with a prison sentence of up to 10 years.The maximum penalty will apply if the laser-attack results in at least one death.

If a pilot is temporarily blinded, up to seven years in jail is possible.

The punishments will apply to people over the age of 14.

Laser-pen-wielding hooligans have already attacked at least 30 jets landing in Russia since the start of the year.

Police have detained two people. One of them, a 22-year-old resident of Rostov-on-Don, was allegedly blinding pilots from his balcony.

He used a laser pen with a green beam – the most dangerous type for the human eye. Police released him on condition he does not leave town.

Such incidents are not common only in Russia. In the US there were 2,836 laser stunts as planes were taking off or landing in 2010 alone.

So far in 2011, pilots have reported over 1,100 such incidents in the United States. Earlier this month, the Federal Aviation Administration announced that they would impose fines of up to US$11,000 per violation.

The incidents have increased rapidly around the world over the past six years as online sales of new, powerful handheld lasers have soared.

Despite the fact the blinding flash has never caused a commercial airliner to crash, the increased number of incidents is causing concern.

“Lasers can temporarily blind a pilot,” J. Randolph Babbitt from the FAA told the Washington Post. “At a minimum, shining a laser at an aircraft can create a dangerous distraction.”

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