Laser technology can be interesting for many reasons, whether it is to help with demonstrations, create lighting effects at large concerts, or provide some entertainment for your cat. However, there are other types of laser indicators, which have greater power. Therefore, as a high-energy device, it is potentially dangerous.
According to MIT science and technology review, in 2008, several aircraft flying over Sydney, Australia, were attacked by high-power laser pens. The perpetrators used them to try to blind the pilots on the plane. In response, the Australian government quickly banned any laser pen with a power exceeding 1 milliwatt (MW).
After this incident, other countries followed suit and began to restrict laser pens with more than 1 milliwatt. In countries such as the United Kingdom and the United States, it is not illegal to own a laser pen. However, using them can cause you trouble, depending on what you do with them. Today, Australia has the strictest law on laser pens, even classifying them as weapons.
These laws vary from country to country, but many places have similar restrictions on laser pens. As mentioned earlier, Australian law is the most stringent when it comes to these devices. For example, in New South Wales, laser pens exceeding 1 milliwatt require a license, which is classified as a prohibited weapon. Unless there is a reasonable reason, laser pens of any size are not allowed to be carried or used in public. The penalty for such acts may be two years' imprisonment or a fine of $5500.
In the UK, according to the West Yorkshire Police, it is not illegal to have a laser pen with any power, but it is recommended that more powerful lasers, and any laser above level 2, should not be used by the public. When it comes to legitimacy, the real problem is the way the laser pen is used. It is a punishable crime if someone tries to shine a laser pen into someone's eyes or interfere with a car or aircraft.
In the United States, the law is similar to that in Britain. As explained by the Federal Aviation Administration, people can legally own lasers of any power, but pointing them to aircraft or the flight route of aircraft is a federal crime and can be sentenced to up to 5 years' imprisonment. In addition, the food and drug administration supervises the sales and distribution of laser pens. Laser pens exceeding 5 MW are not allowed to be sold in the market for the purpose of laser pens.