Legalities of Body Armor for Citizens
For those who may be on the fence about purchasing personal body armor for fear of running awry of the law, there is nothing to fear. The current laws regarding possession and use of body armor by law abiding citizens is relatively straight forward and quite permissive.
The bottom line, Federal law, states that body armor is wholly legal to possess and wear. The sole exception is for convicted felons. Said criminals are banned from either possessing or wearing body armor unless required for their job. In this instance, a written letter of requirement must be provided by the convict’s employer. Otherwise it is a 3-year penalty on top of time already served.
As with firearms ownership, State and municipal law is where people run the biggest risk of unintentional infraction. In the case of body armor, though, there are only a few specific pitfalls to be aware of:
- In the state of Louisiana, it is illegal to wear body armor on school grounds.
- In the state of Connecticut, it is illegal to purchase body armor online or through the mail. Face-to-face purchases are allowed and unrestricted.
- In several other states, such as Kentucky, possessing or wearing body armor while committing any other crime counts as a separate charge. Wearing body armor during routine activity is lawful.
In February of 2015, the Lawful Possession of Body Armor Act was introduced in Congress. This bill would have effectively banned all future sales of body armor to private citizens, restricting use and ownership to Law Enforcement and those who purchased before the law was enacted. By all accounts, this bill gained no traction in the House or Senate and is dead in the water.
As always, please check your state and local laws if there is any doubt. Online databases exist that can help you verify the individual municipal codes. But as a general rule of thumb, the ownership and use of body armor by private citizens is well within your rights and perfectly acceptable.