Report: NY legislation bans the purchase and wearing of bulletproof vests for civilians (but maybe not journalists)


ALBANY, NY – According to reports, Governor Kathy Hochul has banned most bulletproof vests that civilians use in the state of New York.

The law initially stated that “bullet-resistant soft body armor” were ones that were being banned after the horrific mass shooting in May 2022 in a grocery store in Buffalo, New York. However, vests using steel plates as well as polyethylene and ceramic plates were not initially stated in the ban.

According to the New York State website:

“Effective July 6, 2022, when not being engaged or employed in an eligible profession, the purchase, taking possession of, sale, exchange, giving or disposing of body armor is prohibited.”

The few exceptions include:

Police officers;
Peace officers;
Persons in military service in NYS or military or other service for the United States; and
Such other professions designated by the Department of State in accordance with section 144-a of the Executive Law.

Back in June, the law did not cover the type of armor worn by the gunman who killed 10 people at a Buffalo supermarket.

The lead sponsor of the bill said that the legislature wanted to act quickly and at the time, may not have gotten everything right. Months later, it seems like they are trying to close any loopholes.

Newburgh Assemblyman Jonathan Jacobson was lead sponsor of the body armor ban for civilians and at the time said that he was willing to rework the legislation so that it does over body armor with steel ceramic or polyethylene plates. He said:

“When this happened, I don’t think we really knew what type of body armor the shooter was using in Buffalo. I think the important thing was that we took important steps that lessened the possibility that criminals will be using bullet proof vests in commission of crimes.”

According to the New York State website, there are other professions that are currently under review by the Department of the State to determine if they should be added to the list of of eligible professions that are still legally allowed to wear the bulletproof vests. Some of those types of professions are listed below:

Process Server;
Firearms Instructor;
Broadcast Reporter and Journalist employed by or in service of a Federal Communications Commission licensed radio & television station;
News Crew Broadcast Film & Video Editor employed by or in service of a Federal Communications Commission licensed radio & television station;
Nuclear Security Officer;
Journalism Photographer;
Animal Control Officer; and
Range Safety Officer.

Back in May, shortly after the Buffalo supermarket massacre, State Sen. Sean Ryan (D-Buffalo) introduced a bill that would curb access to bulletproof vests like the one used by the mass murderer.

Ryan said that blocking internet sales could make it more difficult for future gunmen to acquire body armor by making them venture to the relatively few shops that sell such gear in New York compared to online.

Prior to the passing of the legislation, state law allowed New Yorkers to buy bulletproof vests, but wearing one while committing a gun crime could land violators in prison for up to five years.

Sales of such tactical gear have increased in recent years amid rising violent crime, civil unrest, and the ongoing war in Ukraine. Brad Pedell, co-owner of 221B Tactical in Midtown, said:

“We can’t get our regular in-store inventory so easily so it’s kind of created a big of a backlog.”

He said that an effective ban on online sales of bulletproof vests would hurt the bottom line of his business, which sells an array of tactical gear. He also questioned if this new bill would really deter criminals beyond being an inconvenience for law-abiding citizens. He added:

“A fraction of people who are buying body armor are buying it for the sake of committing a felonious heinous crime and protecting themselves while they’re in the process of doing that as compared with people who are just scared.”

Ryan, who represents a district near the Buffalo supermarket massacre, responded by saying that a ban on online sales would at least reduce access for would-be mass killers to some degree, potentially saving lives in the process. He added:

“If your business to sell body armor worn by mass shooters to defy and evade law enforcement then you are in the wrong line of work. And there is no one solution to gun violence and to the scourges of mass shootings so we need to find many ways to save lives by chipping away at the problem and one part of the problem is the proliferation of body armor sales to civilians.”

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