Argument: Lasers have become more powerful and more affordable

Issue Report: Ban on laser pointers


“Laser Pointer Abuse Threatens Air Safety”. Washington Post. 27 Jan. 2005 – What’s changed is the availability of powerful laser pointers. About a dozen years ago, a pointer with a red beam sold for about $600. Today, consumers can get a similar one for a key chain for $3.95 — batteries included.

The popularity of red laser pointers is now being overtaken by green pointers, which are visible over a much longer range.

“The human eye responds to the green light approximately 50 times better than the red laser pointer, and that is why it appears so bright,” said Richard Hughes, a member of the Florida-based Laser Institute of America, who has a doctorate in physics and holds 23 patents in the field of lasers.

The difference is striking: The old red pointers had a range of about a half-mile at best, experts say. The new green ones — powered only by AAA batteries and no bigger than a Sharpie marker — can send their beams more than two miles.

In recent years, prices of green lasers have fallen steeply — from $400 each in 2002 to as little as $59 now.

As the lasers have become less expensive, they have become far more popular, said John Mueller, president of Beam of Light Technologies in Clackamas, Ore. Mueller said he is selling 1,500 to 2,000 a month.

“People are moving to green,” he said.