New York’s Idiotic Ban on Geiger Counters

by on January 12, 2008 · 6 comments

Steve Bellovin points out a silly proposal to require licenses for Geiger counters. Like Bellovin, I’m at a loss as to why anyone would think this was a good idea. The police department says the legislation would “prevent false alarms and unnecessary public concern,” but it’s not clear either that false alarms are a major problem, or that this registration requirement would prevent them. Strangely enough, the article doesn’t cite a single example in which “false alarms” created serious problems for anybody.

A couple of other problems with the legislation spring to mind. First, it’s likely to be totally unenforceable. Geiger counters are widely available for a few hundred dollars. Any New Yorker who wants one will have little trouble going to New Jersey and buying one.

Second, I got to play around with a Geiger counter in my high school physics class. Does this legislation have an exception for instructional use? If not, this seems like a serious burden on education for now good reason.

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