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Thread: Question on the Legality of Flashlights ...

  1. #1

    Default Question on the Legality of Flashlights ...

    in general and lumens in particular . As I was using my brand new Olight Warrior X Pro to help look for a neighbor's cat in the woods near where I live the other night , I started to wonder what I would say if someone called the police . Not necessarily the ownership of a flashlight , but the lumen threshold . Obviously , I would not shine it into a neighbors window or a motorists or pedestrians face. However , what would I say if a neighbor called to report a prowler ? Could the police in Northern Virginia consider a flashlight with higher lumens to be brandishing a weapon ? Possibly attached to a rifle ? I'm not paranoid ( like some of my neighbors ) , but I'm just wondering if any members have had an encounter with law enforcement because of a very bright light . Thanks in advance .

  2. #2

    Default Re: Question on the Legality of Flashlights ...

    Attached to a rifle? Northern Virginia? Uh, yeah you might want to think twice about that.

    Prowlers tend to not want to be noticed…… so if a neighbor calls the cops about a bright light that would be a foolish thing for them to do. Matter of fact, in "not" northern Virginia when folks see bright flashlights they think it is the cops.

    Legal maximum? I'd have to speculate there isn't any number but instead it would be seen as a nuicance if it is used for stupidity or rudeness. But then again you are speaking of Ralph Northam fan club territory.
    Last edited by bykfixer; 02-11-2020 at 11:34 AM.
    John 3:16

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Question on the Legality of Flashlights ...

    I would absolutely not under any circumstance be using a weapon-mounted flashlight "just to look for stuff" and that would include "the possibility of a prowler"- anywhere, not just NVA. The Cops wouldn't use WMLs in a search like that. Cops would only use a WML to search for a KNOWN armed threat.

    Otherwise, using just a flashlight, sure you might get the cops called on you, but in all likelihood they'd just want to know what it's called and why it's so much better than their department issued one.

    It's not a weapon unless you are using it as one.
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    Default Re: Question on the Legality of Flashlights ...

    Use common sense and you won't have problems. As with much of the rest of life. My common sense is saying this thread should be closed before it goes sideways. Watching. Closely.
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    Flashaholic* aginthelaw's Avatar
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    Default Re: Question on the Legality of Flashlights ...

    Scout, it’s like you have psychic powers. So let me try and respond without being the thread killer...if you mounted the light at the end of a cricket bat...

    As a former law enforcement officer, we were trained to hold the flashlight a certain way to avoid being a victim of some miscreant. If I saw a bunch of guys with lights when i was a cop, I wouldn’t have thought twice about it unless they installed a malkoff upgrade for a few hundred more lumens. I’d wonder what they were up to, check out the story and possibly see if they lived there. If so, I’d offer assistance or go back to patrol. Even the more gung ho guys on my platoon would give them a little bit hassle, but wouldn’t give you a hard time. They’re not even crazy about lights like I am. If you don’t have burglar’s tools on you, I’d think you’d be safe
    a single sunbeam is enough to drive away many shadows- St. Francis of Assissi

  6. #6

    Default Re: Question on the Legality of Flashlights ...

    I think you are confused about what brandishing a weapon means. I think your question probably should be more about whether shining an ultra bright flashlight at someone could be considered assault. Brandishing is more like you have a weapon in your belt and you are having words with someone and you lift up your shirt to show the weapon in a threatening way. I think you are asking if you have an ultra bright light and shine it on someone, could that be considered assault if it is so bright that it could cause some type of perceived harm.

    Anyway, I don't have those answers. But what I can tell you is that it if you have a dedicated light for a firearm, do not use this as a general search around light to help find your neighbors cat. Don't point a gun at anything you do not want to shoot. Get a hand held light for that and save the gun light for a situation that requires the use of a gun in self defense.

  7. #7
    Flashaholic* aginthelaw's Avatar
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    Default Re: Question on the Legality of Flashlights ...

    And in reference to what dot said, this is the reason our department doesn’t use weapon mounted lights on handguns. Some of those same gung-ho guys have been known to use the lights on their guns for convenience rather than using JUST a light for a routine search that didn’t involve a dangerous element.
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  8. #8

    Default Re: Question on the Legality of Flashlights ...

    I see that you have another question:
    I'm just wondering if any members have had an encounter with law enforcement because of a very bright light .
    No. I have shined very bright flashlights down the middle of residential streets at night and I have never had contact with the police because of that. MM15vn, M43vn, TN36UTvn, TK75vnQ70, X65vn, X45vn, K75vn and R90TS have resulted in no police contact with me. Imalent MS18 when aimed down the center of a residential street has, in my opinion, too much powerful flood to aim down the middle of a residential street. I have had contact with the police walking on the street, because after almost 9,000 pedestrian miles in residential neighborhood streets, in almost four years, I have no dog bite injuries on my legs or anywhere else on my body, but not for my neighbors at-large Shepherd breeds' lack of extreme trying, twice, with a tenth of a second to spare the first time, and a third of a second to spare the second time. No flashlight was used in my self defense.
    Last edited by richbuff; 02-11-2020 at 03:43 PM.
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    Flashaholic* Lou Minescence's Avatar
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    Default Re: Question on the Legality of Flashlights ...

    I think the only legal problems with using a flashlight would be disturbing the peace.
    Like music - play it too loud - attract attention
    = disturbing the peace
    I only once attracted police attention once with a high lumen light. I was out with the dog at a state park. No one around. I lit up the parking area with 3,00 lumens and there was a cruiser parked in the corner. The cop started his engine and drove over to me. We just hung for a while and I let him play with my light. He never asked for ID. Cool guy.
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    Default Re: Question on the Legality of Flashlights ...

    When I rarely shine one of my 500 to 1600 Watt Short Arc lights at the hilltop about a mile from my garage, I wait till about 9PM or after, then play for about 10 minutes. The light never reaches an upward angle where it could bother aircraft and if one happens into the vicinity of the "end of the beam, I move it or shut down. I think in my mind, I act as if it is illegal to do what I am doing so that I am ultra careful how I use it. While there are no houses in the direct line of the beam, it does go right up the middle of a house-lined street but is significantly higher than the level of a car or truck and there is virtually no "spill" onto the houses. I still divert the beam if a vehicle is on the street.
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  11. #11

    Default Re: Question on the Legality of Flashlights ...

    Quote Originally Posted by bykfixer View Post
    Attached to a rifle? Northern Virginia? Uh, yeah you might want to think twice about that.

    Prowlers tend to not want to be noticed…… so if a neighbor calls the cops about a bright light that would be a foolish thing for them to do. Matter of fact, in "not" northern Virginia when folks see bright flashlights they think it is the cops.

    Legal maximum? I'd have to speculate there isn't any number but instead it would be seen as a nuicance if it is used for stupidity or rudeness. But then again you are speaking of Ralph Northam fan club territory.
    Sorry ! I should have clarified that someone else might think that it was attached to a rifle . I am not foolish enough to do this ! There is a lot of paranoia with regards to AR-15 rifles these days . Thank you , sir .

  12. #12

    Default Re: Question on the Legality of Flashlights ...

    Quote Originally Posted by aginthelaw View Post
    Scout, it’s like you have psychic powers. So let me try and respond without being the thread killer...if you mounted the light at the end of a cricket bat...

    As a former law enforcement officer, we were trained to hold the flashlight a certain way to avoid being a victim of some miscreant. If I saw a bunch of guys with lights when i was a cop, I wouldn’t have thought twice about it unless they installed a malkoff upgrade for a few hundred more lumens. I’d wonder what they were up to, check out the story and possibly see if they lived there. If so, I’d offer assistance or go back to patrol. Even the more gung ho guys on my platoon would give them a little bit hassle, but wouldn’t give you a hard time. They’re not even crazy about lights like I am. If you don’t have burglar’s tools on you, I’d think you’d be safe
    Okay. Thank you . I was in LE ( sort of ) while in the military ( USCG ) . I try to be a civil/courteous man , so I shouldn't have any problems . Thanks again .

  13. #13

    Default Re: Question on the Legality of Flashlights ...

    Quote Originally Posted by aginthelaw View Post
    Scout, it’s like you have psychic powers. So let me try and respond without being the thread killer...if you mounted the light at the end of a cricket bat...

    As a former law enforcement officer, we were trained to hold the flashlight a certain way to avoid being a victim of some miscreant. If I saw a bunch of guys with lights when i was a cop, I wouldn’t have thought twice about it unless they installed a malkoff upgrade for a few hundred more lumens. I’d wonder what they were up to, check out the story and possibly see if they lived there. If so, I’d offer assistance or go back to patrol. Even the more gung ho guys on my platoon would give them a little bit hassle, but wouldn’t give you a hard time. They’re not even crazy about lights like I am. If you don’t have burglar’s tools on you, I’d think you’d be safe

    Regarding "burglary tools" I wonder how many flashlight enthusiasts carry a legal pocketknife and or multitool on them like me. I also have lock picks in my wallet for an emergency lol.
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    Default Re: Question on the Legality of Flashlights ...

    I really don't think there would be any "legal" issue with using a flashlight that is capable of very high lumens. What could start to get someone into trouble is "intent", are you trying to use it or anything in your hands to cause harm to another person. I could have a garden hose in my hands and be using as something other than it's intended use and that may have legal issues.

  15. #15

    Default Re: Question on the Legality of Flashlights ...

    PK was told one of his flashlights was too bright to be legal by the Chinese government. They forbid him from lighting it saying it could blind airplane pliots.


    It was afterall the worlds biggest and brightest flashlight.
    Look, it tail stands.
    John 3:16

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    Default Re: Question on the Legality of Flashlights ...

    Quote Originally Posted by bykfixer View Post
    PK was told one of his flashlights was too bright to be legal by the Chinese government. They forbid him from lighting it saying it could blind airplane pliots.

    You need to tell me where I can buy this light! I'll take 3 thank you, with a coupon of course


    It was afterall the worlds biggest and brightest flashlight.
    Look, it tail stands.
    I'l take 3 please. With a coupon code of course!
    Last edited by LED Monkey; 02-12-2020 at 08:16 PM.

  17. #17
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    Default Re: Question on the Legality of Flashlights ...

    Quote Originally Posted by bykfixer View Post
    PK was told one of his flashlights was too bright to be legal by the Chinese government. They forbid him from lighting it saying it could blind airplane pliots.



    It was afterall the worlds biggest and brightest flashlight.
    Look, it tail stands.
    Sorry pal but you got some splainin to do.

  18. #18

    Default Re: Question on the Legality of Flashlights ...

    If you are holding a Warrior X Pro (or any flashlight, lighter, or light emitting device) in your hand to look for something, I really don't see an issue. As previously stated in this thread, it comes down to intent.

    If I tape a zippo lighter to the end of a rifle, can I call it a weapon mounted light? LOL

    Just because an item is marketed a certain way, doesn't mean its use is predefined in all instances.

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    Enlightened The Hawk's Avatar
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    Default Re: Question on the Legality of Flashlights ...

    As a retired law enforcement officer, I can tell you that you are safe. In the event that law enforcement did show up, you have a good reason for being outside with a flashlight.

  20. #20
    Flashaholic* RedLED's Avatar
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    Default Re: Question on the Legality of Flashlights ...

    Love the photo of the giant light being installed, very funny!
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  21. #21

    Default Re: Question on the Legality of Flashlights ...

    That was a project PK had done outside of his office Red.
    Worlds biggest, worlds brightest flashlight. The photo is through a window in the office he worked in a couple years back.

    The Chinese government would not let him light it even after he had it reduced down to only 36,000 watts.
    Last edited by bykfixer; 02-21-2020 at 07:49 PM.
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  22. #22

    Default Re: Question on the Legality of Flashlights ...

    Quote Originally Posted by The Hawk View Post
    As a retired law enforcement officer, I can tell you that you are safe. In the event that law enforcement did show up, you have a good reason for being outside with a flashlight.
    Prowling around at night outside with a flashlight when police arrive.

    Isn't that a bit risky? What if the police think you're a burglar?

  23. #23
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    Default Re: Question on the Legality of Flashlights ...

    In my opinion, Police aren’t morons. I think within a few moments of discussion they can discern a prowler from someone looking for a lost cat in the woods. And if you’re outside in the dark in a park or public area and it’s clear what you are doing, you really aren’t doing anything wrong. If you are on private property or are sneaking around someone’s house you shouldn’t be there without permission anyways, whether it’s daylight or nighttime.

  24. #24

    Default Re: Question on the Legality of Flashlights ...

    Whenever I'm out playing "flashlight dude" checking out beam patterns etc and am approached by police I hear "need some help?" not "hands in the air dirt bag"……
    John 3:16

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    Default Re: Question on the Legality of Flashlights ...

    Quote Originally Posted by nbp View Post
    In my opinion, Police aren’t morons. I think within a few moments of discussion they can discern a prowler from someone looking for a lost cat in the woods. And if you’re outside in the dark in a park or public area and it’s clear what you are doing, you really aren’t doing anything wrong. If you are on private property or are sneaking around someone’s house you shouldn’t be there without permission anyways, whether it’s daylight or nighttime.
    Bad attitude neighbor called sheriff one night because I was testing a new high current switch. It was a triple fairly wide beam. The claim was I was shining it into their house. A pair of LEO's showed up and I explained the situation. We all compared flashlights and it was over.

  26. #26
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    Default Re: Question on the Legality of Flashlights ...

    It’s dark when I get up to walk the dog. Likewise at night. I usually rely on a headlight to see, but to be seen, I have one of a few Olight Pro model throwers in my hand. Going home I bitch about the bright car lights in my eyes, many on high. So as a set of newer high beams approach me, I just activate the 2250 lumen Warrior X Pro, pointing it at the ground. Seems cars slow down and dim their beams when they see the light.

  27. #27
    Flashaholic* Lou Minescence's Avatar
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    Default Re: Question on the Legality of Flashlights ...

    Same here when walking the dog. I light up the power lines along the road and drivers dim their headlights before they see me thinking I’m a car. A better way than shining the car to dim their lights.
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  28. #28

    Default Re: Question on the Legality of Flashlights ...

    There's no laws anywhere that I'm aware of that forbid you to carry one but in some situations it could lead to having to talk with police.

    People call the police for numerous reasons; some legitimate, some petty. How they respond can vary. Someone could simply call and say there's a person walking down the street with a flashlight and they seem "suspicious". Depending on your area the police may check it out or not.

    It's not illegal to walk at night with a flashlight per say but it could be a nuisance issue if the person is indeed shining it at houses and such.

    Of course there's always that one person in every neighborhood that always wants to be nosy, or make problems for everyone. So while the person out walking with light may not have any ill intent, the caller could very well grossly exaggerate it to a situation where it appears they are out prowling around, looking for houses to rob.

    I guess what I'm trying to say here is that while this isn't necessarily an illegal activity, don't be surprised if some overzealous neighbor calls the cops in a residential area.

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