Australia to Crack Down on Laser-Pointer Sales

Australia plans to restrict sales of laser pointers after they were used to blind pilots preparing to land in several unresolved incidents, an official said Sunday.

The new regulations could treat sales of laser pointers -- typically used in classrooms and presentations -- like firearms, said Australian Home Affairs Minister Bob Debus.

"Recent attacks on pilots have highlighted the seriousness of the problem," he said in a statement. "It's destructive, dangerous behavior which needs a coordinated response across Australia."

It was unclear who has been shining the laser pointers at planes in airports across Australia. In one 15-minute incident last week, a number of lasers were directed at six airliners, forcing pilots to change their approach at Sydney's Kingsford Smith airport.

Australian Civil Aviation Safety Authority spokesman Peter Gibson said it was unlikely the lasers could cause a crash, especially on commercial flights which have two pilots. But some pilots reported being temporarily blinded and getting headaches from the glare.

Debus said details and timing of the laser restrictions have yet to be finalized.

Legitimate users of lasers such as surveyors, astronomers as well as the mining and construction industries would be exempt from restrictions, he said.