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Got a Laser in Your Sights? Picking the Right Laser for the Job

NCJ Number
Law Enforcement Technology Volume: 35 Issue: 5 Dated: May 2008 Pages: 38-43
John Marrs
Date Published
May 2008
6 pages
This article reviews the advantages of laser sights for police guns, and describes the specifications of various types of laser sights offered by manufacturers.
Laser sights, which project a beam that displays a colored dot on the spot where the bullet would hit if the gun is fired, give police officers a psychological advantage over resisting suspects. The suspect's awareness of a red or green dot on his/her chest is a clear, sobering warning that an officer means business. It presents the suspect with a visual sign of where the officer's bullet would hit if the officer were to fire his/her gun. Laser sights also allow officers to shoot much faster in low-light conditions, since finding and aligning iron sights can be difficult in low light. This also means that officers can focus on the threat rather than on lining up their sights. Officers should be aware, however, that laser sights do not improve marksmanship skills. Using guns with laser sights still requires the development and maintenance of traditional marksmanship skills and practices. There are safety issues to be considered when using laser sights. The laser can be harmful to the human eye; however, most reputable manufacturers have filters installed to alleviate this concern. Also, in team environments, the various laser colors and pulsating versus steady beams can make it difficult to determine which beam belongs to which officer's firearm. Assigning different colors or pulsating and steady beams to particular officers can help avoid confusion and ensure that each officer knows which laser dot is his/her point of aim. This article describes the types of lasers, laser variations, and the specific features of lasers available from various manufacturers.