A laser pointer has resulted in an in-school suspension for a 12-year-old Dubuque, Iowa, girl, because school officials said the devices--which emit a tiny red beam of light--are treated as though they are weapons. Like many school districts, Dubuque is cracking down on laser pointers, confiscating them when it can and noting they are a disruption in class and potentially dangerous.

"We've noticed it this school year," said Ed Mulholland, a Hempstead High School assistant principal. "It's become a fad."

The battery-powered pointers contain a small, but powerful laser diode. The diode emits a red light that travels


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