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New Jersey Lawmakers Approve Ban On Some Laser Pointers

Not Clear Whether Gov. Chris Christie Will Act On Bill
Laser

What a pilot sees when someone on the ground shines a laser into the cockpit. (Photo: CBS 2)

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TRENTON, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) — The New Jersey State Senate on Monday overwhelmingly approved a bill that would ban the sale of certain powerful laser pointers.

The measure has now been sent to Gov. Chris Christie’s desk. But it is not known whether he will act on the bill.

The measure passed Monday by a 36-1 vote would ban the sale of laser pointers that exceed one milliwatt in output power. Current federal regulations allow for the sale of laser pointers that have an output power of up to five milliwatts.

Laser pointers intended to be affixed to a firearm do not fall under the bill’s general prohibition.

The Assembly approved the measure in June. Violators would face $500 fines for the first offense and up to $1,000 for subsequent offenses.

Federal law enforcement authorities has said lasers can temporarily blind pilots and put an aircraft’s crew and passengers at risk.

The Federal Aviation Administration recently reported that two commercial airliners on approach to Newark Liberty International Airport were illuminated by lasers last week. A privately operated helicopter was also targeted during the same period.

No injuries were reported in the incidents.

The FAA says the helicopter was illuminated with a green and white laser at 1,600 feet, about 10 miles south of Newark.

About a half hour later, a Boeing 737 and an Embraer 135 were targeted with a green laser on final approach to the airport. They were at an altitude of 3,000 feet, one mile east of Teterboro Airport.

More than 2,200 laser incidents were reported nationally through Aug. 2, including 27 in New Jersey and eight in Newark.

In New York State, U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) called last year for a crackdown on laser pointers, in the wake of a rash of incidents on Long Island.

Three Suffolk police pilots ended up in an emergency room after being on the wrong end of the lasers last year, police said. Sun Country Airlines Flight 8800 out of Reykjavik, Iceland, was on approach to John F. Kennedy International Airport last summer when at 12,000 feet over Brookhaven the pilots said they saw flashes of green laser beams.

In 2005, there were just 300 laser incidents, but that jumped to more than 2,800 in 2010, followed by a huge jump to almost 3,600 last year.

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(TM and © Copyright 2013 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2013 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)