New York Democratic Congresswoman Grace Meng recently reintroduced legislation that has sparked a debate on the potential implications for personal safety and Second Amendment rights. The bill, known as H.R. 3247 or the “Aaron Salter, Jr., Responsible Body Armor Possession Act,” aims to prohibit the purchase, ownership, or possession of enhanced body armor by civilians if it can defend against rifle ammunition.

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The proposed legislation defines enhanced body armor as having ballistic resistance that meets or exceeds Level III standards, according to the National Institute of Justice. Level III and Level IV armors are designed to stop rifle rounds. Furthermore, the bill also includes a ban on helmets and ballistic shields that meet or exceed Level III standards.

Acknowledging the concerns raised by the bill, Meng has included exceptions for law enforcement and military personnel. Additionally, a grandfather clause would allow civilians who purchase body armor before the bill takes effect to keep their existing armor. Currently, H.R. 3247 is awaiting further action in the House Judiciary Committee, with nine Democratic cosponsors, including five from New York.

Congresswoman Meng, a member of the House Gun Violence Prevention Task Force, announced the reintroduction of the bill on the two-year anniversary of the 2022 Tops Friendly Market shooting in Buffalo, New York. The shooting, during which the perpetrator wore body armor and a ballistic helmet, tragically resulted in the deaths of ten Black customers and left three more wounded. The bill has been named in honor of Aaron Salter, Jr., a retired Buffalo police officer who lost his life while attempting to confront the mass shooter.

Meng asserts that the legislation is necessary to prevent the easy access to equipment specifically intended to counter military-grade ammunition. She stated in a recent press release (Full press release at the bottom of this article), “It should not be the case that anyone with internet access can purchase equipment designed to stop military-grade ammunition.”

Critics argue that the bill infringes upon the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding citizens and would ultimately leave them more vulnerable to criminal acts. They believe that the proposed ban would fail to effectively address violent crime, as criminals would not adhere to any new laws. Instead, it is argued that responsible individuals seeking means of self-defense would be deprived of an essential tool in protecting themselves and their families.

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Regarding the statistical considerations surrounding the use of body armor in mass shootings, Congressman Timothy Kennedy, a Democratic cosponsor of the bill, and Congresswoman Meng did not reference data from the FBI’s comprehensive study on active shooter incidents conducted from 2000 to 2019. Instead, they relied on the Gun Violence Archive (GVA), a source criticized for its broad definition of mass shootings, leading to potentially inflated statistics.

Industry experts emphasize that body armor is protected by the Second Amendment, and they consider Meng’s bill to be a clear infringement on those rights. Additionally, they argue that banning body armor could set a precedent for further restrictions on firearms ownership and self-defense measures.

While some states already have regulations in place regarding the purchase and use of body armor, opponents of Meng’s bill argue that these existing state laws do not infringe on constitutional rights and provide a more balanced approach.

As the discussion around the constitutionality and practicality of Meng’s bill continues, it remains extremely questionable whether the ban on enhanced body armor will effectively address public safety concerns or further restrict the rights of law-abiding individuals.


You can read the full press release from Grace Meng below:

MENG AND KENNEDY INTRODUCE LEGISLATION TO KEEP ENHANCED BODY ARMOR OUT OF THE HANDS OF MASS SHOOTERS

On the Two-Year Anniversary of the Buffalo Shooting, Lawmakers Reintroduce Bill Honoring Officer Aaron Salter Jr., the Security Guard on Duty the Day of the Massacre

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Marking the second anniversary of the Tops Friendly Market grocery store shooting in Buffalo, New York, U.S. Reps. Grace Meng (NY-06) and Timothy Kennedy (NY-26) announced the reintroduction of the Aaron Salter Jr. Responsible Body Armor Possession Act.

The bill would prohibit the sale, transfer, or possession of enhanced body armor by civilians, with exemptions for law enforcement and military personnel. Enhanced body armor is defined as body armor that meets or exceeds Level III ballistic resistance level – which is tested to stop 7.62 mm rifle ammunition – as determined by the National Institution of Justice. There are currently no federal restrictions on civilians’ access to this level of body armor, which can be legally purchased online.

This legislation is named in honor of retired police officer Aaron Salter Jr., a 30-year veteran of the Buffalo Police Department, who was the security guard on duty when a racist gunman opened fire at Tops supermarket in East Buffalo, killing 10 people and injuring three more. Salter quickly took action, but his weapon was no match for the enhanced body armor that the shooter wore.

“It should not be the case that anyone with internet access can purchase equipment designed to stop military-grade ammunition,” said Congresswoman Meng, a Member of the House Gun Violence Prevention Task Force. “This is commonsense legislation, which I am proud to lead with Rep. Kennedy for the Buffalo community and the far too many others throughout the United States that have experienced the terror and tragedy of gun violence. We are not only honoring Aaron Salter Jr., who was a hero, but we are also taking action to protect law enforcement and first responders who will answer future calls.”

“Aaron Salter Jr’s courageous actions bought precious seconds for patrons and employees of Tops Markets to escape, undoubtedly saving lives at the expense of his own,” saidCongressman Kennedy. “He put his years of training to use and hit his target immediately. But because the gunman had access to enhanced body armor, Mr. Salter’s shot was deflected, and he was murdered. This type of body armor should not be for sale on store shelves or online, and I’m grateful to Congresswoman Meng for her leadership on this issue.”

In addition to Buffalo, shootings by gunmen wearing body armor have taken place in Sutherland Springs, Texas; Aurora, Colorado; Boulder, Colorado; San Bernardino, California; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and many other communities. According to the Gun Violence Archive, there have already been over 150 mass shootings in 2024.

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