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Pointing a laser at aircraft could be prosecuted locally

This FBI photo shows the effects of a laser pointer striking an aircraft cockpit. From long distances, the blinding beam can be several inches across. (FBI photo)

This FBI photo shows the effects of a laser pointer striking an aircraft cockpit. From long distances, the blinding beam can be several inches across. (FBI photo)

The Arizona House has approved a bill that would allow county attorneys to prosecute people charged with pointing a laser at aircraft.

The bill sponsored by Tucson Republican Rep. Ethan Orr would make pointing a laser at aircraft a class 5 felony. The measure would not apply to people under the age of 19.

Pointing a laser at aircraft is already a federal offense. But Orr says federal prosecutors rarely go after offenders and that he wants to give local prosecutors “more teeth.”

The Federal Aviation Administration reported nearly 4,000 incidents of lasers being pointed at aircraft in 2013, a more than 40 percent increase since 2010.

The House passed the bill 58-2 on Tuesday. It now goes to the Senate.

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