Christie Zaps Bill to Ban Low-Watt Laser Pointers in N.J.
Governor Chris Christie vetoed a bill to bar sales of low-power lasers in New Jersey because it would strip businesspeople of a modern alternative to the wooden pointer.
“Presumably, the purpose of this bill is to deter the dangerous misuse of laser pointers,” Christie said yesterday in a statement accompanying his action. Current state and federal laws already punish such misconduct by making it a criminal act to aim such a device at any vehicle, including an airplane, with penalties of as much as 10 years in prison.
The legislation, S-418, would have prohibited the sale of pointers with more than 1 milliwatt in output power. Current federal regulations allow retail sales of the devices with as much as 5 milliwatts of power.
The New Jersey bill “goes well beyond the federal standards,” said Christie, a Republican. He said laser pointers that would be affected are “currently for sale at office supply stores as well as by the largest online retailers” and that the measure would thus interfere with lawful commerce in the state.
“This legislation would ban the sale of one of the most common classes of consumer laser pointers, which are not typically used by criminals, but by business professionals to deliver presentations,” Christie said. He said the power level stipulated by the bill was “arbitrary.”
State law calls for a sentence of as long as 10 years for anyone convicted of aiming a laser pointer at a vehicle in such a way as to cause serious injuries. Christie said lawmakers offered no instances in which a criminal used such low-power lasers. The governor didn’t suggest ways to change the bill.
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