In 2008, several planes flying over Sydney, Australia were attacked by high-power laser pens, according to the MIT Technology Review. 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 of more than 1 milliwatt (mW).
After this incident, other countries followed suit and began to limit laser pens of more than 1 milliwatt. In countries such as the UK and the US, 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 most stringent laws on laser pens, even classifying them as weapons.
These laws vary from country to country, but there are similar restrictions on laser pens in many places. As mentioned earlier, Australia has the strictest laws when it comes to these devices. In New South Wales, for example, laser pens of more than 1 milliwatt require a license, which is classified as a prohibited weapon. Laser pens of any size are not allowed to be carried or used in public unless there is a reasonable reason. The penalty for such behavior may be two years in prison or a fine of A $5500.
In the UK, according to West Yorkshire police, it is not illegal to have a laser pen of any power, but it is recommended that more powerful lasers should not be used by the public. When it comes to legitimacy, the real problem is the way laser pens are used. If someone tries to use a laser pointer to shine someone in the eye or interfere with a car or aircraft, it is a punishable crime.
In the United States, the law is similar to that in Britain, where people can legally own lasers of any power, as explained by the Federal Aviation Administration, but pointing them to an aircraft or its flight path is a federal crime punishable by up to five years in prison. In addition, the Food and Drug Administration oversees the sale and distribution of laser pens, which are not allowed to be sold as laser pens on the market.