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Laser pointing at aircraft could be tried locally

PHOENIX -- The Arizona Senate has given initial approval to 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 Senate gave initial approval to House Bill 2164 on Wednesday. It must still cast a full roll-call vote.

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