Congressman Mike Honda, a California Democrat, has proposed legislation that would prohibit Americans who aren’t affiliated with government law enforcement or military organizations from owning body armor.
Honda’s bill, which has already gained approval from a handful of district attorneys and law enforcement organizations, would make illegal “body armor, including a helmet or shield, the ballistic resistance of which meets or exceeds the ballistic performance of Type III armor.”
Currently, body armor rated Type III or higher — designed to minimize injury caused by handgun and rifle rounds, according to the National Institute of Justice — is available in the for sale new or used U.S., including armor designed for traditional tactical applications as well as discreet self-defense items.
In Honda’s opinion, however, body armor sales in the U.S. are targeted directly at the dangerous criminal element.
“There is no reason this type of armor, which is designed for warfare, should be available in our communities except for those who need it, like law enforcement,” Honda said of his bill.
“There’s nothing more dangerous than what a well-armored, unstoppable active shooter can do. This bill is common-sense and long overdue.”
The Violence Policy Center’s Kristen Rand agrees.
“By limiting civilian access to body armor that is designed to protect against ‘law enforcement ammunitions’ and weapons that are ‘generally only used in tactical situations,’ the legislation would be an important step forward in reducing the availability of military-style gear that enables shooters to attack innocent civilians and confront law enforcement responders with a level of firepower that has no place on America’s streets,” she said.
Rand’s organization, in a statement regarding the Honda bill, erroneously claimed that mass shootings “including the 2012 massacre at a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado that left 12 dead and 58 injured” and “the 2009 mass shooting at the American Civic Association immigration center in Binghamton, New York, which left 14 dead and four wounded” are often carried out by armor-clad individuals.
It’s worth noting that, as with firearms, Federal law prohibits people with violent criminal pasts from owning body armor.