(WASHINGTON) -- The Senate has passed an amendment that could make pointing lasers at aircraft a federal crime.
Lawmakers on Thursday voted 96-1 to pass the amendment introduced by Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-RI, aimed at cracking down on individuals who engage in such activity. A growing number of pilots have reported lasers directed at their cockpits during takeoff and landing. They fear the lasers could temporarily blind them and pose harm to those on board.
“Shining lasers at airplanes is not a game and places passengers and crew at risk,” Whitehouse said. “With the increasing occurrence of these types of incidents, prosecutors must have strong tools to punish and deter this dangerous conduct.”
Should the amendment make it into law, it will be a crime to knowingly point a laser at an aircraft, punishable by up to five years in prison. The bill exempts those using lasers for legitimate aviation purposes.
The Federal Aviation Administration says over 2,800 reports were filed about lasers being pointed at aircraft in 2010, almost double the amount of reports received the previous year. In 2010, Los Angeles International Airport had a national high 102 laser incidents, while Theodore Francis Green Airport in Warwick, R.I., had the least amount of reports with 12.
Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio