The FBI sure likes to get their hands involved in a lot of different projects. From raiding accounts of WOW players to seizing your smartphone, they seem to do just about everything. Now, the FBI will make you think twice before ever using your laser pointer for something other than a presentation. The FBI has created a National Anti-Laser Attack Task Force and its purpose is to find, deter and defeat those who like to point their pointers high into the sky from their lawnchair on a random Thursday night.
The FBI says that laser attacks in the United States are actually on the rise and are expected to reach 3,700 cases by the end of the year, compared to only 283 back in 2005, when they first started keeping track of the offenses. Doing some math with those numbers means that the attacks have risen more than 1,100 percent in seven years, and that's for the attacks that are reported only. We know that people getting bored with PowerPoint and buying ridiculously high-powered handheld lasers just to try and blind pilots isn't a new thing, however, the problem is getting so out of hand, that the Bureau has said it has reached "epidemic levels" and must be stopped with this Task Force.
Back in 2008, a Laser Strike Working Group was based in the FBI's Sacramento office, but the FBI has now brought the Task Force to a national level. The good news is that the $250,000 fine and 20 year jail time has been revamped as part of this. Now, idiots pointing these things toward the sky from outside their homes will only receive $11,000 fines and up to five years in prison. The difference is that now more people will be watching. George Johnson, a federal air marshal and liaison with the FBI said,
Use a laser pointer for what it's made for. Aiming a laser pointer at an aircraft is dangerous and reckless. Just don't do it.
Letting go of the almost perfect environment that must be in place for most lasers to actually blind aviation pilots, this means that ten people are being reported of doing something dumb like this each and every night of the year. You'd think there would be hundreds of other dumb things people could do when they're bored with their friends, but I guess not. What should you do if you witness something being overly bored? First, show them the thing called the Interwebz. Then, the FBI says to call 911, email the FAA or contact your local FBI office. Until then, I expect the sales report to be ready by our 5PM meeting tonight, laser pointer in-hand.