A bipartisan group in Congress has introduced a proposal that seeks to restrict the ability of civilians to obtain enhanced body armor on the premise that it would make it harder for criminals to get their hands on the equipment.
“Armor designed for warfare has no place on our streets, and the ‘Aaron Salter Jr. Responsible Body Armor Possession Act’ is a commonsense step to ensure that enhanced body armor is not in the hands of bad actors,” Meng, a member of the House Gun Violence Prevention Task Force, said in the statement.
The draft legislation has carveouts for law enforcement, active-duty military, and other public servants whose professional duties require them to possess body armor.
In May, 18-year-old Payton Gendron, of Conklin, New York, allegedly opened fire with a rifle at a supermarket in Buffalo while wearing enhanced body armor and a ballistic helmet.
Ten people were killed and three others wounded, with Buffalo Police Commissioner Joseph Gramaglia saying that one of the bullets fired by the security guard hit the gunman’s armor but had no effect.
“One of those victims, Aaron Salter, was the security guard for that store and gave his life protecting others who were inside,” Jacobs, a Republican, said in the statement.
“His heroic confrontation of the shooter undoubtedly saved lives. Unfortunately, the shooter was wearing enhanced body armor that protected him from Aaron’s attempts to take him down. Had the killer not had such armor, the outcome would have been one with much less bloodshed.”
The use of body armor by gunmen engaging in mass shootings has become more widespread, according to Meng.
“Over the last decade, there have been 17 mass shootings where the gunman was protected by some form of body armor. That is two and a half times more than the previous three decades. When would-be shooters are able to arm themselves with military grade equipment, our community is at increased risk,” she said.
Prior efforts at restricting the availability of body armor to civilians haven’t gotten far. Connecticut has a law that requires body armor sales to be in-person, while New York recently adopted restrictions on the types of body armor that can be sold to civilians.
“I believe that evil people are going to do evil things,” Reece told the outlet. “And it is very easy for people with evil intent to bypass laws or bypass intentions of manufacturers and sellers and to find black-market resources.
“I think that preventing access to tools is not a way of helping free people to defend themselves against evil.”