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112th Congress                                             Rept. 112-11
                        HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
 1st Session                                                     Part 1

======================================================================



 
             SECURING AIRCRAFT COCKPITS AGAINST LASERS ACT 
                                OF 2011

                                _______
                                

 February 11, 2011.--Committed to the Committee of the Whole House on 
            the State of the Union and ordered to be printed

                                _______
                                

       Mr. Smith of Texas, from the Committee on the Judiciary, 
                        submitted the following

                              R E P O R T

                        [To accompany H.R. 386]

      [Including cost estimate of the Congressional Budget Office]

    The Committee on the Judiciary, to whom was referred the 
bill (H.R. 386) to amend title 18, United States Code, to 
provide penalties for aiming laser pointers at airplanes, and 
for other purposes, having considered the same, reports 
favorably thereon without amendment and recommends that the 
bill do pass.

                                CONTENTS

                                                                   Page
Purpose and Summary..............................................     1
Background and Need for the Legislation..........................     2
Hearings.........................................................     3
Committee Consideration..........................................     3
Committee Votes..................................................     3
Committee Oversight Findings.....................................     3
New Budget Authority and Tax Expenditures........................     3
Congressional Budget Office Cost Estimate........................     3
Performance Goals and Objectives.................................     4
Constitutional Authority Statement...............................     4
Advisory on Earmarks.............................................     4
Section-by-Section Analysis......................................     4
Changes in Existing Law Made by the Bill, as Reported............     5

                          Purpose and Summary

    H.R. 386, the ``Securing Aircraft Cockpits Against Lasers 
Act of 2011,'' amends title 18 of the United States Code to 
provide for the imposition of criminal penalties for any 
individual who knowingly aims a laser pointer at an aircraft 
within the special aircraft jurisdiction of the United States, 
or its flight path, a practice that creates a serious threat to 
public safety and aviation security, especially during the 
critical stages of take-off and landing. The penalties include 
fines and imprisonment of up to 5 years.

                Background and Need for the Legislation

    A laser, when aimed at an aircraft, can create a visual 
distraction or cause discomfort or even damage to a pilot's 
eyes. H.R. 386 addresses the high number of incidents involving 
lasers being pointed at aircraft while in flight. Many of these 
incidents are occurring during the take-off and landing portion 
of a flight, when the pilots need to be most alert. The Federal 
Aviation Administration has reported that pilots have had to 
relinquish control of their aircraft to their copilot. In the 
case of law enforcement aircraft, there are reports that 
responses to crime scenes by airborne police units were 
terminated due to laser interference. More than 2,800 laser 
incidents involving aircraft were reported in 2010.
    Some perpetrators have been charged under 18 U.S.C. 
Sec. 32, relating to the destruction of aircraft. However, this 
provision requires the government to prove willful interference 
and intent to endanger the pilots. While this burden may be 
easily established when a person attempts to detonate a bomb 
onboard an aircraft or attempts to overtake a member of the 
flight crew, it is difficult to establish this same type of 
intent for a laser incident, even if the effect is actually to 
endanger the pilots.
    This bill recognizes the obvious and inherent danger of 
aiming a laser at an aircraft under any circumstance, as long 
as the offender knowingly aims the laser at the aircraft. The 
penalty under section 32, 20 years, coupled with having to 
prove specific intent to interfere with, disable, or endanger 
the pilots, seems to be a factor in multiple declinations of 
prosecution under the current statute.
    The problem of lasers being shined into cockpits is so 
prevalent in some areas of the country that the Federal Bureau 
of Investigation, the Federal Aviation Administration, the 
Federal Air Marshal Service, as well as State and local law 
enforcement, have established a Laser Strike Working Group to 
address the problem.
    On January 19, 2011, the Air Line Pilots Association 
International, representing 53,000 pilots flying for 38 
airlines in the United States and Canada, sent a letter of 
support of this legislation. This letter stated in part: ``The 
inappropriate use of widely available laser pointers against 
airborne flight crews represents a genuine and growing safety 
and security concern. At a minimum, the laser illumination of a 
cockpit creates a flight crew distraction and in more serious 
cases can result in eye damage and temporary incapacitation.''

                          LEGISLATIVE HISTORY

    In the 111th Congress, the House approved identical 
legislation (H.R. 5810) by voice vote on July 27, 2010. An 
identical bill was introduced in the 110th Congress (H.R. 
1615). A subcommittee hearing was held on May 1, 2007, and the 
Judiciary Committee marked up the bill on May 2, 2007. The bill 
passed the House by a voice vote on May 22, 2007.

                                Hearings

    The Committee on the Judiciary held no hearings on H.R. 
386.

                        Committee Consideration

    On January 26, 2011, the Committee met in open session and 
ordered the bill H.R. 386 favorably reported without amendment, 
by voice vote, a quorum being present.

                            Committee Votes

    In compliance with clause 3(b) of rule XIII of the Rules of 
the House of Representatives, the Committee advises that there 
were no recorded votes during the Committee's consideration of 
H.R. 386.

                      Committee Oversight Findings

    In compliance with clause 3(c)(1) of rule XIII of the Rules 
of the House of Representatives, the Committee advises that the 
findings and recommendations of the Committee, based on 
oversight activities under clause 2(b)(1) of rule X of the 
Rules of the House of Representatives, are incorporated in the 
descriptive portions of this report.

               New Budget Authority and Tax Expenditures

    Clause 3(c)(2) of rule XIII of the Rules of the House of 
Representatives is inapplicable because this legislation does 
not provide new budgetary authority or increased tax 
expenditures.

               Congressional Budget Office Cost Estimate

    In compliance with clause 3(c)(3) of rule XIII of the Rules 
of the House of Representatives, the Committee sets forth, with 
respect to the bill, H.R. 386, the following estimate and 
comparison prepared by the Director of the Congressional Budget 
Office under section 402 of the Congressional Budget Act of 
1974:

                                     U.S. Congress,
                               Congressional Budget Office,
                                  Washington, DC, February 2, 2011.
Hon. Lamar Smith, Chairman,
Committee on the Judiciary,
House of Representatives, Washington, DC.
    Dear Mr. Chairman: The Congressional Budget Office has 
prepared the enclosed cost estimate for H.R. 386, the 
``Securing Aircraft Cockpits Against Lasers Act of 2011.''
    If you wish further details on this estimate, we will be 
pleased to provide them. The CBO staff contact is Mark 
Grabowicz, who can be reached at 226-2860.
            Sincerely,
                                      Douglas W. Elmendorf,
                                                  Director.

Enclosure

cc:
        Honorable John Conyers, Jr.
        Ranking Member
H.R. 386--Securing Aircraft Cockpits Against Lasers Act of 2011.
    CBO estimates that implementing H.R. 386 would have no 
significant cost to the Federal Government. The legislation 
could affect direct spending and revenues, so pay-as-you-go 
procedures apply, but we estimate that any such effects would 
not be significant.
    H.R. 386 would establish a new Federal crime for aiming the 
beam of a laser pointer at an aircraft or at the aircraft's 
flight path. Thus, the government might be able to pursue cases 
against violators that it otherwise would not be able to 
prosecute. However, CBO expects that H.R. 386 would apply to a 
relatively small number of offenders, so any increase in costs 
for law enforcement, court proceedings, or prison operations 
would not be significant. Any such costs would be subject to 
the availability of appropriated funds.
    Because those prosecuted and convicted under H.R. 386 could 
be subject to criminal fines, the Federal Government might 
collect additional amounts if the legislation is enacted. 
Criminal fines are recorded as revenues, deposited in the Crime 
Victims Fund, and later spent. CBO estimates that any 
additional revenues and direct spending would not be 
significant because of the small number of cases likely to be 
affected.
    H.R. 386 contains no intergovernmental or private-sector 
mandates as defined in the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act and 
would impose no costs on State, local, or tribal governments.
    The CBO staff contact for this estimate is Mark Grabowicz. 
The estimate was approved by Theresa Gullo, Deputy Assistant 
Director for Budget Analysis.

                    Performance Goals and Objectives

    The Committee states that pursuant to clause 3(c)(4) of 
rule XIII of the Rules of the House of Representatives, H.R. 
386 is intended to punish and deter the practice of knowingly 
aiming laser beams at aircraft.

                   Constitutional Authority Statement

    The Committee finds the authority for this legislation in 
article I, section 8, clause 3 of the Constitution.

                          Advisory on Earmarks

    In accordance with clause 9 of rule XXI of the Rules of the 
House of Representatives, H.R. 386 does not contain any 
congressional earmarks, limited tax benefits, or limited tariff 
benefits as defined in clause 9(e), 9(f), or 9(g) of Rule XXI.

                      Section-by-Section Analysis

    The following discussion describes the bill as reported by 
the Committee.
    Sec. 1. Short title. Section 1 sets forth the short title 
of the bill as `Securing Aircraft Cockpits Against Lasers Act 
of 2011.'
    Sec. 2. Prohibition against Aiming A Laser Pointer At An 
Aircraft. Section 2 makes it a crime to knowingly aim the beam 
of a laser pointer at an aircraft in the special aircraft 
jurisdiction of the United States or at the flight path of such 
aircraft. An individual convicted of this crime is subject to 
criminal fines or imprisonment up to 5 years. This provision 
does not apply to: (1) individuals conducting research and 
development or flight test operations for an aircraft 
manufacturer or the Federal Aviation Administration; (2) 
Department of Defense or Department of Homeland Security 
personnel conducting research, development, operations, testing 
or training; or (3) an individual using a laser emergency 
signaling device to send a distress signal.
    Section 2 authorizes the Attorney General, in consultation 
with the Secretary of Transportation, to provide by regulation, 
after public notice and comment, additional exceptions to this 
provision as necessary and appropriate. The Attorney General 
must give written notice of any such proposed regulations to 
the House and Senate Committees on the Judiciary as well as 
other specified committees.
    Sec.3. Compliance with PAYGO. Sets the determination of the 
budgetary effects of the Act for compliance with the Statutory 
Pay-As-You-Go Act of 2010.

         Changes in Existing Law Made by the Bill, as Reported

  In compliance with clause 3(e) of rule XIII of the Rules of 
the House of Representatives, changes in existing law made by 
the bill, as reported, are shown as follows (new matter is 
printed in italics and existing law in which no change is 
proposed is shown in roman):

TITLE 18, UNITED STATES CODE

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *


PART I--CRIMES

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *


                 CHAPTER 2--AIRCRAFT AND MOTOR VEHICLES

Sec.
31. Definitions.
     * * * * * * *
39A. Aiming a laser pointer at an aircraft.

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *


Sec. 39A. Aiming a laser pointer at an aircraft

  (a) Whoever knowingly aims the beam of a laser pointer at an 
aircraft in the special aircraft jurisdiction of the United 
States, or at the flight path of such an aircraft, shall be 
fined under this title or imprisoned not more than 5 years, or 
both.
  (b) As used in this section, the term ``laser pointer'' means 
any device designed or used to amplify electromagnetic 
radiation by stimulated emission that emits a beam designed to 
be used by the operator as a pointer or highlighter to 
indicate, mark, or identify a specific position, place, item, 
or object.
  (c) This section does not prohibit aiming a beam of a laser 
pointer at an aircraft, or the flight path of such an aircraft, 
by--
          (1) an authorized individual in the conduct of 
        research and development or flight test operations 
        conducted by an aircraft manufacturer, the Federal 
        Aviation Administration, or any other person authorized 
        by the Federal Aviation Administration to conduct such 
        research and development or flight test operations;
          (2) members or elements of the Department of Defense 
        or Department of Homeland Security acting in an 
        official capacity for the purpose of research, 
        development, operations, testing or training; or
          (3) by an individual using a laser emergency 
        signaling device to send an emergency distress signal.
  (d) The Attorney General, in consultation with the Secretary 
of Transportation, may provide by regulation, after public 
notice and comment, such additional exceptions to this section, 
as may be necessary and appropriate. The Attorney General shall 
provide written notification of any proposed regulations under 
this section to the Committees on the Judiciary of the House 
and Senate, the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure 
in the House, and the Committee on Commerce, Science and 
Transportation in the Senate not less than 90 days before such 
regulations become final.

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *