Body armor saves countless lives every day, and it is used all over the US, and the rest of the world by Law Enforcement, the Military, and even Civilians. In the US, Federal Law states that any law-abiding citizen can purchase and wear body armor, however, when it comes to state laws, some states have certain restrictions on how you can buy armor, and where it can be worn.
So, in this article, we will talk about the legal status of body armor and bulletproof clothing in different states, and discuss the intricacies of federal body armor law in more detail. We will also talk about the legal states of body armor in some other countries in the world, and try to answer all of your questions related to the legality of ballistic armor.
Federal Body armor Laws in the US.
According to Federal Law, Any citizen, who is 18 years old or above, and has not been convicted of a violent crime can legally own and use body armor in the United States. If a felon convicted of a violent crime requires body armor for their profession, they can purchase body armor, however, they need to have written permission from their employer, and the guarantee that the use of armor will be limited to their professional duties.
Where can you legally buy body armor?
In all 50 states of the US, you can buy body armor via a Face-to-Face transaction, and in all states except Connecticut, you can even buy body armor online or over the phone. You also don't need to go through any background checks, or show an ID or permit to purchase body armor in all states.
Where can you legally wear body armor?
In general, federal law allows all law-abiding citizens who can buy body armor to legally wear it as well in any public area, however, different states are allowed to make their own laws regarding the use of body armor, and in some states and cities, you will not be allowed to wear body armor is certain situations.
For instance, some cities or states may prevent the use of body armor during public parades and protests. In some states, it may be illegal to wear body armor to police stations or government buildings, or schools.
Can you wear body armor to work?
In the US, businesses and citizens have the right to prohibit the use of body armor within the premises of their business grounds, or private properties. Therefore, if you intend to wear body armor to work, it is better to check up with the specific policies of your workplace before wearing body armor to work.
Can you legally wear concealed body armor in public?
Yes, if you are allowed to wear body armor in public, you can also wear concealed bulletproof clothing like a Wonder Hoodie, Bulletproof Pants, or concealable Bulletproof Vests. In fact, concealable body armor is better for most situations, as it does not attract too much attention, and allows you to go about your day without getting concerned looks and questions from people and law enforcement officers.
Body armor laws by state
Most states abide by federal law when it comes to body armor-related laws, however, some states have extra restrictions or leniencies. Here is a quick run-down of these states.
Connecticut has quite strict laws about body armor. In fact, unlike in other states, body armor can only be bought through a face-to-face transaction. Buying body armor online, or on the phone is considered a Class B misdemeanor punishable by 6-month imprisonment, a $1,000 fine, or both. However, certain individuals or entities like law enforcement agencies, the national guard and armed forces, the division of criminal justice, the parole board, and correctional facilities are exempt from this restriction.
In Louisiana, anyone can buy or use body armor, except on school grounds, and during school-arranged events and functions including, but not limited to; sporting events, dances, parties, and field trips. It is also illegal to wear body armor in a firearm-free zone, and without 1000 feet of any school campus
According to federal law, only people convicted of a violent crime are prohibited from buying or using body armor, however, the state of Maryland extends this restriction to people convicted of drug trafficking as well. People with prior convictions of drug trafficking or a violent crime need to get a special permit issued by the Secretary of the Maryland State Police to buy or use body armor.
After the recent bill, banning the purchase of body armor was passed and implemented in New York, it now has the most strict body armor laws in the country. The bill was signed in response to the supermarket shooting in buffalo, New York, and the school shooting in Uvalde Texas, during which the attacker was wearing body armor.
Senate Bill S9407B prohibits the purchase of body vests, which they described as "bullet-resistant soft body armor to people who are not in an eligible profession. However, the bill does not have any information about the legality of hard body armor plates, which is causing a lot of confusion. Moreover, the first offense or illegally buying body armor would be considered a class A misdemeanor, and all subsequent offenses will be constituted as class E felony.
As of now, the bill only prohibits the sale of soft body armor vests, which is quite counterintuitive, since the Buffalo shooter wasn't even wearing soft armor. He was wearing hard armor plates and using that incident to ban soft armor doesn't make much sense.
So, if you live in New York, and want to purchase body armor, you can have it shipped to a family member who lives outside of New York, or to someone who is in active law enforcement.
Apart from the above-mentioned states, all states in the US have similar body armor laws to the federal governments. Anyone, 18 or above, can buy body armor if they haven't been convicted of a violent crime. It is also illegal to use body armor while engaging in any criminal activity, however, the severity of the offense may be different in some states. Some states may consider it a misdemeanor, while some as a felony. However, in general, wearing body armor during an illegal activity is illegal in all states.
Body armor laws in other countries
In Canada, the purchase and use of body armor are legal in all provinces and territories except for Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, and Nova Scotia. In these places, you need to be in law enforcement, be a security guard, or have a firearms license or special body armor permit ID to use body armor.
In the UK, there isn't any specific law against wearing or owning body armor, however, firearms aren't that common there either, therefore if you do wear body armor, you will get concerned looks from the police, who may even have grounds to search you. So, though it isn't strictly illegal to own body armor in the UK, it isn't quite popular either.
Generally, Body Armor is legal in Mexico if it is worn for protection, however, if you are traveling to Mexico, it is better to check up on the laws of the specific area you are traveling to.
In the European Union, Body Armor is considered to be military armament, and it can not be owned by civilians. In most cases, this restriction applies to hard body armor plates, however, countries in the EU have their own specific laws as well.
Written by Muhammad A. , Reviewed by Matt H.