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Body Armor Laws By State 2022 - Know Your Rights

Posted by damien@theblackkraken.com BigCommerce on

With all the talk of possible new restrictions being imposed on firearm ownership, we have been seeing increasingly more people asking the question, “is it legal to own body armor?” It’s been a while since we’ve touched on this subject so we thought now would be a good time to look at the most up to date body armor laws in all 50 states. In general, yes, it is legal for normal civilians to buy and own body armor. Is it always legal to own body armor? Well…it depends. You have the right to protect yourself and your family from harm within bounds of the law. As a citizen of the United States, you have the legal right to purchase and wear body armor for personal or professional use if you don’t any prior history of committing crime. You don’t have to go through a background check or submit any special paperwork to buy a set of body armor plates, and it is legal to own in all 50 states of the United States. Sounds pretty cut and dry, right? Well, there are a few areas where the purchasing, & owning of body armor does have some legal barriers that you need to be aware of.

 

Under federal law, a bulletproof vest is considered "body armor," which is regulated by statute, 18 U.S.C.A. Section 931. That law forbids anyone convicted of a violent felony to own or possess a vest, unless the person wearing the vest is an employee who is doing so in order to perform a lawful business activity and who has obtained prior written certification from the employer. A violation incurs a maximum of three years in prison. And using a vest during the commission of a federal crime of violence or a federal drug-trafficking crime will result in an enhanced sentence. (42 U.S.C. Section 3796ll-3(d)(1).)

 

The basic idea behind this law is to help identify severities of crime. For example, if someone attempted to rob a bank, but wasn’t wearing body armor, they still committed a crime and would receive a prison sentence. However, if they had been wearing body armor, now there is clear evidence to the extent of their premeditated plan to violently engage with law enforcement and attempt escape. Think of it this way, if you got into a fight with someone, and punched the individual, that is a crime. However, if you specifically planned to physically assault someone, & took the time, and effort to involve a pair of brass knuckles, the crime is more severe. While owning body armor is legal federally, some states have specific rules that need to be adhered to, so it’s important to know what the laws are in the state you reside in.

 

Some states increase the sentencing of crimes if body armor was used in the crime (or they may make the use of body armor in a crime a separate offense which would increase sentencing). For example, in California, judges may add one, two, or three years (Ca. Penal Code Section 12022.2). In some cases, states may elevate the level of the felony if body armor is involved. In Kentucky, use of body armor makes the defendant ineligible for parole. In a few states, mere possession (which is much broader than wearing the item) during a crime is a criminal act.

 

For individuals with a criminal history, it’s important to know what your state laws are in the possession of body armor. As mentioned, those convicted of a violent felony are prohibited from owning body armor, but some states extend this restriction to those convicted of violent misdemeanors. However, even for those who have never committed a crime, there are some state regulations that restrict boy armor in certain situations. Louisiana, for example, does not allow wearing body armor on school property, or during school functions. Connecticut prohibits purchasing body armor online, or over the phone. The purchase must be made in person.

 

Protecting yourself involves more than just which body armor you choose, but how you purchase it, so we encourage you to protect yourself by obeying the state laws where you reside. Below is a list of current body armor regulations by state. State laws are updated over time, so while we will update this periodically, please double check your state's most current regulations directly. In short, if you don’t break the law then you generally don’t have much to worry. However, some states do have specific requirements as listed below.

 

Alabama

Alabama does not have any additional laws for civilians to purchase body armor legally. In Alabama, any civilian can purchase and use a bulletproof vest legally, unless he or she has been convicted of a felony. Bulletproof vests and all other body armor can be purchased online or in person.

 

Alaska

In Alaska, civilians can purchase and use a bulletproof vest, unless he or she has been convicted of a felony. Bulletproof vests and all other body armor can be purchased online or face-to-face by civilians legally.

 

Arizona

Like many states, Arizona has a law in place that makes it illegal to wear body armor during the commission of a crime. This does not affect body armor retailers.

 

Arkansas

In Arkansas, it is a Class A Misdemeanor to possess body armor if you have been convicted of murder, manslaughter, aggravated robbery, assault, or battery, and this law does not affect body armor retailers. In any other case, civilians can purchase and use a bulletproof vest, unless he or she has been convicted of a felony. Bulletproof vests and all other body armor can be purchased online or face-to-face.

 

California

In California, civilians can purchase and use a bulletproof vest, unless he or she has been convicted of a felony. Bulletproof vests and all other body armor can be purchased online or face-to-face.

 

Colorado

In Colorado, anyone can purchase and use a bulletproof vest, unless he or she has been convicted of a felony. Bulletproof vests and all other body armor can be purchased online or face-to-face.

 

Connecticut

Of all the states, Connecticut has the toughest law on body armor, prohibiting residents from buying or selling body armor except through a face-to-face sale. Online retailers cannot market and sell to Connecticut residents. In Connecticut, it is a class B misdemeanor, punishable by imprisonment for up to six months, a fine of up to $1,000, or both, to sell or deliver body armor unless the transferee meets in person with the transferor to accomplish the sale or delivery. The law exempts sales or deliveries to: authorized officials or sworn members of local police departments, the State Police, the Division of Criminal Justice, the Department of Correction, or the Board or Pardons or Parole; authorized municipal or Department of Administrative Services’ officials who buy body armor for the above agencies; authorized Judicial Branch officials who buy body armor for probation officers; members of the National Guard or armed forces (CGS § 53-341b).

 

Delaware

Delaware has a law in place that makes it illegal to wear body armor during the commission of a crime. This does not affect body armor retailers.

 

Florida

Florida has a law in place that makes it illegal to wear body armor during the commission of a crime, and, and this does not affect body armor retailers.

 

In Florida, any civilian can purchase and use a bulletproof vest, unless that adult has been convicted of a felony. Bulletproof vests and all other body armor can be purchased online or face-to-face.

 

Georgia

Georgia has a law in place that makes it illegal to wear body armor during the commission of a violent crime, or while trafficking drugs. This does not affect body armor retailers.

 

In Georgia, civilians can purchase and use a bulletproof vest, unless that adult has been convicted of a felony. Bulletproof vests and all other body armor can be purchased online or face-to-face.

 

Hawaii

In Hawaii, all civilians can purchase and use a bulletproof vest, unless they have been convicted of a felony. Bulletproof vests and all other body armor can be purchased online or face-to-face.

 

Idaho

In Idaho, anyone can purchase and use a bulletproof vest, unless he or she has been convicted of a felony. Bulletproof vests and all other body armor can be purchased online or face-to-face.

 

Illinois

Illinois does not have any additional body armor laws pertaining to retailers. In Illinois, any civilian can purchase and use a bulletproof vest, unless that adult has been convicted of a felony. Bulletproof vests and all other body armor can be purchased online or face-to-face. However, it is illegal to for individuals to wear body armor while in possession of a dangerous weapon, other than a firearm, during the commission or attempted commission of any offense. Unlawful use of body armor is a Class A misdemeanor.

 

Indiana

In Indiana, any civilian can purchase and use a bulletproof vest, unless that adult has been convicted of a felony. Bulletproof vests and all other body armor can be purchased online or in person. A person who knowingly or intentionally uses body armor while committing a felony commits unlawful use of body armor, a Class D felony (up until July 2014, when a new law takes effect). The new law states that a person who knowingly or intentionally uses body armor while committing a felony commits unlawful use of body armor, a Level 6 felony. Again, this law effects criminals, not retailers.

 

Iowa

In Iowa, any civilian can purchase and use a bulletproof vest, unless he or she has been convicted of a felony. Bulletproof vests and all other body armor can be purchased online or face-to-face.

 

Kansas

In the city of Topeka, Kansas, it is illegal to possess, carry or wear a bulletproof vest during protests, parades, rallies, assemblies and demonstrations. This statute does not affect retailers. In Kansas, civilians can purchase and use a bulletproof vest, unless he or she has been convicted of a felony. Bulletproof vests and all other body armor can be purchased online or in person.

 

Kentucky

In Kentucky, any civilian can purchase and use a bulletproof vest, unless that adult has been convicted of a felony. Bulletproof vests and all other body armor can be purchased online or face-to-face.

 

Louisiana

Louisiana has a law in place that makes it illegal to wear body armor during the commission of a crime or on school property. This does not affect body armor retailers. In Louisiana, any adult can purchase and use a bulletproof vest, unless that adult has been convicted of a felony. Bulletproof vests and all other body armor can be purchased online or face-to-face. It is illegal to wear body armor on the premises of a school.

 

Maine

In Maine, anyone can purchase and use a bulletproof vest, unless they have have been convicted of a felony. Bulletproof vests and all other body armor can be purchased online or face-to-face.

 

Maryland

Maryland law mandates that all civilians with a prior conviction for a crime of violence, or a drug trafficking crime, are prohibited from using, possessing, or purchasing bulletproof body armor without a permit issued by the Secretary of the Maryland State Police. A civilian with a prior conviction for a crime of violence or a drug trafficking crime may file, for good cause shown, a petition with the Secretary for a permit to use, possess, and purchase bulletproof body armor.

 

Massachusetts

Massachusetts has a law in place that makes it a felony to wear body armor during the commission of a crime. In Massachusetts, anyone can purchase and use a bulletproof vest, unless they have been convicted of a felony. Bulletproof vests and all other body armor can be purchased online or face-to-face.

 

Michigan

In Michigan, any civilian of age can purchase and use a bulletproof vest, unless that civilian has been convicted of a felony. Bulletproof vests and all other body armor can be purchased online or face-to-face. In Michigan, an individual who commits or attempts to commit a crime that involves a violent act or a threat of a violent act against another person while wearing body armor is guilty of a felony, punishable by imprisonment for not more than 4 years, or a fine of not more than $2,000.00, or both. This is not applying to state officers and security officers performing their duties while on or off a scheduled work shift.

 

Minnesota

In Minnesota, anyone can purchase and use a bulletproof vest, unless he or she has been convicted of a felony. Bulletproof vests and all other body armor can be purchased online or face-to-face.

 

Mississippi

In Mississippi, any civilian can purchase and use a bulletproof vest, unless that adult has been convicted of a felony. Bulletproof vests and all other body armor can be purchased online or face-to-face.

 

Missouri

In Missouri, any civilian can purchase and use a bulletproof vest, unless he or she has been convicted of a felony. Bulletproof vests and all other body armor can be purchased online or face-to-face.

 

Montana

In Montana, anyone can purchase and use a bulletproof vest, unless he or she has been convicted of a felony. Bulletproof vests and all other body armor can be purchased online or face-to-face.

 

 

Nebraska

In Nebraska, anyone can purchase and use a bulletproof vest, unless he or she has been convicted of a felony. Bulletproof vests and all other body armor can be purchased online or face-to-face.

 

Nevada

In Nevada, anyone can purchase and use a bulletproof vest, unless he or she has been convicted of a felony. Bulletproof vests and all other body armor can be purchased online or face-to-face.

 

New Hampshire

New Hampshire has laws in place that make committing a crime while wearing a bulletproof vest a felony, but does not have laws in place that prohibit sales of bulletproof vests by retailers. A person is guilty of a class B felony if he commits or attempts to commit any felony while using or wearing body armor.

 

New Jersey

In New Jersey, any civilian can purchase and use a bulletproof vest, unless they have been convicted of a felony. Bulletproof vests and all other body armor can be purchased online or face-to-face. Additionally, in New Jersey, a civilian can be charged separately for wearing a bullet proof vest while carrying out criminal acts. The practical effect is more jail time and fines. Separate penalties have a wide range depending on the seriousness of the underlying crime.

 

New Mexico

In New Mexico, anyone can purchase and use a bulletproof vest, unless he or she has been convicted of a felony. Bulletproof vests and all other body armor can be purchased online or face-to-face.

 

New York

In New York, any civilian can purchase and use a bulletproof vest, unless that adult has been convicted of a felony. Bulletproof vests and all other body armor can be purchased online or face-to-face. A civilian is guilty of the unlawful wearing of a body vest when acting either alone or with one or more other persons he commits violent felony offenses while possessing a firearm, rifle or shotgun and during and in furtherance of such crime he wears a body vest. The unlawful wearing of a vest is a class E felony.

 

North Carolina

North Carolina has a law in place that makes it illegal to wear body armor during the commission of a crime. This does not affect body armor retailers. In North Carolina, any civilian can purchase and use a bulletproof vest, unless that adult has been convicted of a felony. Bulletproof vests and all other body armor can be purchased online or face-to-face.

 

 

 

North Dakota

In North Dakota, anyone can purchase and use a bulletproof vest, unless he or she has been convicted of a felony. Bulletproof vests and all other body armor can be purchased online or face-to-face.

 

Ohio

Ohio does not have any additional body armor laws. In Ohio, any civilian can purchase and use a bulletproof vest, unless that adult has been convicted of a felony. Bulletproof vests and all other body armor can be purchased online or face-to-face.

 

Oklahoma

Oklahoma has a law in place that makes it a felony to wear body armor during the commission of a crime. This does not affect body armor retailers. In Oklahoma, it is legal for civilians to purchase body armor, unless he or she has been convicted of a felony. Bulletproof vests and all other body armor can be purchased online or face-to-face.

 

Oregon

In Oregon, anyone can purchase and use a bulletproof vest, unless he or she has been convicted of a felony. Bulletproof vests and all other body armor can be purchased online or face-to-face.

 

Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania does not have any additional body armor laws. In Pennsylvania, it is legal for civilians to purchase body armor, unless he or she has been convicted of a felony. Bulletproof vests and all other body armor can be purchased online or face-to-face.

 

Rhode Island

In Rhode Island, it is legal for civilians to purchase body armor and bulletproof vests, unless he or she has been convicted of a felony. Bulletproof vests and all other body armor can be purchased online or face-to-face. In 2012, Rhode Island’s General Assembly passed a bill that forbids anyone convicted of a felony that is a crime of violence from buying or possessing body armor. This does not affect retailers of bullet proof vests.

 

South Carolina

South Carolina has a law in place that makes it illegal to wear body armor during the commission of a crime. This does not affect body armor retailers. In South Carolina, it is legal for civilians to purchase body armor, unless he or she has been convicted of a felony. Bulletproof vests and all other body armor can be purchased online or face-to-face.

 

South Dakota

In South Dakota, it is legal for civilians to purchase body armor, unless he or she has been convicted of a felony. Bulletproof vests and all other body armor can be purchased online or face-to-face.

 

Tennessee

Tennessee also has a law in place that makes it illegal to wear body armor during the commission of a crime. The unlawful wearing of a vest is a Class E felony. This does not affect body armor retailers. In Tennessee, any civilian can purchase and use a bulletproof vest legally, unless that adult has been convicted of a felony. Bulletproof vests and all other body armor can be purchased online or face-to-face.

 

Texas

In Texas, it is legal for civilians to purchase body armor, unless he or she has been convicted of a felony. Bulletproof vests and all other body armor can be purchased online or face-to-face.

 

Utah

In Utah, civilians can purchase body armor legally and use a bulletproof vest, unless he or she has been convicted of a felony. Bulletproof vests and all other body armor can be purchased online or face-to-face.

 

Vermont

Vermont does not have any additional body armor laws. In Vermont, it is legal for civilians to purchase body armor, unless that adult has been convicted of a felony. Bulletproof vests and all other body armor can be purchased online or face-to-face.

 

Virginia

Virginia has one additional body armor law, like many states: Any person who, while committing a crime of violence or a felony violation, has in his possession a firearm or knife and is wearing body armor designed to diminish the effect of the impact of a bullet or projectile, shall be guilty of a Class 4 felony. This law does not affect retailers. In Virginia, it is legal for civilians to purchase body armor, unless that adult has been convicted of a felony. Bulletproof vests and all other body armor can be purchased online or face-to-face.

 

Washington State

In Washington, civilians can purchase body armor legally, unless he or she has been convicted of a felony. Bulletproof vests and all other body armor can be purchased online or face-to-face.

 

West Virginia

In West Virginia, it is illegal for a civilian to wear body armor while committing a felony, an element of which is force, the threat of force, physical harm to another or the use or presentment of a firearm or other deadly weapon. This does not affect body armor retailers. In West Virginia, any civilian can purchase and use a bulletproof vest legally, unless that adult has been convicted of a felony. Bulletproof vests and all other body armor can be purchased online or face-to-face.

 

Wisconsin

In Wisconsin, any civilian can purchase and use a bulletproof vest legally, unless that adult has been convicted of a felony. Bulletproof vests and all other body armor can be purchased online or face-to-face. In Wisconsin, regulations also state donning a bulletproof vest during a felony or attempted felony can lead to an additional felony conviction or added years to the final prison sentence. This law affects certain individuals who might purchase and wear bulletproof vests but does not affect retailers.

 

Wyoming

In Wyoming, any civilians can purchase and use a bulletproof vest legally, unless he or she has been convicted of a felony. Bulletproof vests and all other body armor can be legally purchased both online or face-to-face.

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