A comprehensive resource for safe and responsible laser use

Ukraine: Russia claimed to use laser to burn border guards' retinas

A Ukrainian official said that Russian forces “tested their laser weapons on our soldiers.” Three border guards had retinal burns that damaged their central vision. The guards had been using binoculars and monocles, which could help focus laser light into a more concentrated spot on the retina.

This was the first report of Russian use of a laser to blind, which is prohibited by the United Nations “Protocol on Blinding Laser Weapons”. The protocol bans the use of “laser weapons specifically designed, as their sole combat function or as one of their combat functions, to cause permanent blindness to unenhanced vision, that is to the naked eye or to the eye with corrective eyesight devices.”

From Ukraine Today; original story from Interfax-Ukraine

US: Family robbed by men who threatened them with a laser pointer

At about 1 am on September 13 2016, a family was robbed in a Tulsa, Oklahoma, convenience store parking lot by three men. One of them aimed a laser pointer at the father and demanded cash and purses. The family turned over the items and the men left.

A news story states “It’s not clear if the men had any weapons.”

From NewsOn6.com

US: Laser on gun pointed at teens by off-duty trooper

Two New Jersey teenagers say that on July 26 2015, a man with a gun followed them, they saw a laser being pointed at them, and then the man opened fire. The man later turned out to be an off-duty state trooper using what the state attorney general’s office says was his personal handgun.

From NJ.com

US: Voters briefly turned away from polls, due to laser pointer "weapon"

Voters in Donna, Texas were briefly turned away from a polling site at a school, after a student reported finding a “weapon”, on November 4 2014.

For about 25 minutes, the polls were closed while the “weapon” was located and was determined to be a laser pointer.

The incident occurred at the W.A. Todd Ninth Grade Campus.

From ValleyCentral.com

US: Ohio 7th grader may be expelled for gun-shaped laser pointer

A 7th grade student in Huber Heights, Ohio was arrested April 23 2013 for bringing a laser pointer shaped like a realistic gun to Weisenborn Middle School. The unnamed 12- or 13-year-old boy pointed the “laser gun” at two other students who became frightened and told the principle. Police arrested the boy; he faces criminal charges in juvenile court. He also may be expelled due to violating the school district’s policies about weapons or look-alikes.

gun-shaped laser pointer
An example of a gun-shaped laser pointer. This particular unit emits a 100 mW beam and costs USD $68. An Internet search turns up a wide variety of gun-shaped novelty and toy laser pointers, including some that also have a lighter built in, and a gag pointer that shocks the user when they pull the trigger.


From WDTN.com

US: High school report of handgun turns out to be a laser pointer

Police officers responded to a call at a Kansas City, Kansas school on May 8 2014. A person with a handgun and laser sight had been reported at Wyandotte High School. Surveillance video, however, showed that the “suspect” had a laser pointer and not a gun.

From the Kansas City Star

US: Maine man aims fake gun with laser pointer at cars; is arrested

A 22-year-old Maine man was arrested January 11 2014 for aiming a replica gun, which emits a laser beam from the barrel, at passing motorists including a police officer.

Replica gun laser pointer
The replica gun, emitting a red laser beam, used to harass motorists.


The officer was on patrol in Kittery, a seaside town at the southern tip of Maine, when he saw a red laser beam in his cruiser. He then saw the beam on other vehicles as well.

The officer pulled up behind the car of Seth Christman, and arrested him. Christman was charged with criminal use of a laser pointer under Maine Title 17-A Sec. 1002-A. The Class D misdemeanor prohibits intentionally pointing a laser beam at a police officer or a “reasonable person” for the purpose of intimidating and attempting to harm.

Christman’s next hearing in York District Court is set for March 5 2014.

From SeacoastOnline

US: UPDATED - Man showing laser sight to wife shoots, kills her

A man was demonstrating the laser sight on his AK-47 assault rifle to his wife when the gun fired, killing her. The death, apparently accidental, occurred on February 21 2012.

The Flagler County (FL) Sheriff’s Office said that William Merrill, 32, and his wife Stefanie were at their Palm Coast, Florida home in their master bathroom while their 3-year-old daughter was taking a bath. Merrill pointed the AK-47 at his wife to show her the laser’s beam. The two were talking about how bright the beam was when the gun fired once. Stefanie died at the scene.

Pic 2012-02-23 at 10.46.01 PM
William Merrill


On February 23, Merrill was arrested for manslaughter and for possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. He had been convicted in 2007 on grand theft and other charges.

From the Orlando Sentinel

UPDATED October 30 2012 - William Merrill was sentenced to 25 years in prison. The minimum he could have received was 10 years, and the maximum was 30 years.

The “possession of a firearm by a convicted felon” charge was dropped when Merrill pleaded guilty to the manslaughter charge. (He could have received up to 45 years if given the maximum under both charges.)

During trial the prosecutor said “I don’t believe, and it’s not our position that Mr. Merrill intentionally killed his wife that morning.” But, he said, Merrill’s actions were egregiously reckless and disregarded safety.

When pronouncing sentence, the judge noted that Merrill had a stash of over 20 firearms and he violated the most basic of firearm rules. The judge concluded that it did not matter if it was an accident, Merrill was guilty of killing his wife.

From FlaglerLive.com

US: Oregon man aims laser-sighted gun at deputy

Michael Coats, 48, was arrested October 10 2011 after he lased a sheriff’s deputy with the red dot from a laser-sighted .45 semi-automatic pistol. Coats said he aimed the laser and gun because the lights from the patrol vehicle were disturbing him. He was charged with menacing, reckless endangerment, unlawful use of a firearm, and pointing a weapon. The incident happened in Jefferson, Marion County, Oregon.

Pic 2011-10-23 at 12.23.13 PM
Michael Coats

From KVAL.com

US, China: Chinese warship used light to attack US spy ship

A secret cable newly-revealed by WikiLeaks states that a U.S. survey ship was attacked for 30 minutes by a Chinese warship aiming a bright white narrow-beam light. The March 8 2008 incident took place in the East China Sea. According to the U.S. State Department cable, “the light was of such intensity that it temporarily impaired the visual acumen of USNS Victorious personnel and thereby constituted a hazard to navigation.”

Condoleeza Rice, Secretary of State at the time, sent the cable to the U.S. Embassy in Beijing. Rice said that China’s actions were “provocative and inconsistent” with the law of the sea” and “constitute serious harassment and elevate the risk of miscalculation.”

Washington Times reporter Bill Gertz, who broke the story, was unable to find out whether the light was a laser or a high-powered searchlight. Gertz also pointed to parallels with the 1997 suspected laser use by the Russian merchant ship Kapitan Man.

From the Washington Times

Analysis: Based on the color, LaserPointerSafety.com believes it is a conventional light. To produce a white light beam with lasers requires superimposition of three or more single-color lasers. This is more difficult than using a single-color laser, and would not provide any significant benefit in a situation such as the ship attack. (If countermeasure anti-laser goggles are being used, then it may be beneficial to use multiple wavelengths. It is more difficult to defend against multiple wavelengths, and doing so would reduce conventional visibility since red, green and blue light would all be blocked. Even here, balancing the wavelengths to produce a “white” light is not necessary.)

US: Police shoot man aiming laser gunsight at them

In Reno, Nevada, police officers shot and critically injured a man who aimed a replica pistol's laser beam at them.

Officers responded to a report of a suicidal man with a gun. They ordered 44-year-old Charles James Bishop to drop the realistic-looking pistol. When he raised it towards them and the laser moved towards the officers, they fired.

More details from RGJ.com