Legality of Body Armor: United States and Beyond
When considering legality, it’s easy to make the assumption that all laws banning or limiting the circulation or use of certain products stem from these products being generally harmful or detrimental to society. While it may be true that most restricted products are controversial and somewhat negative in nature, what about body armor? Though something as safe as a bulletproof vest seems harmless and even downright beneficial, there are laws and statutes both domestically and internationally that limit the purchasing, selling, and ownership of them.
The root of these limitations doesn’t stem from ill-intention, but rather safety. The idea behind them also isn’t to prevent citizens from protecting themselves or even simply having a harmless collection, either. That seems counterintuitive because bulletproof vests are generally seen as providing safety and no harm, but the basic commonality across the laws and statutes follows the idea of making sure body armor doesn’t fall into the hands of the wrong people. The “wrong people” summed up is felons, criminals, or those with criminal intents.
Below you’ll find some basic information and background regarding the legality of body armor and bulletproof vests. It varies from country to country and even state to state, but there are general similarities between all the restrictions.
In all of Australia, permission from the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service is necessary to import any kind of body armor. Thus, any companies with intent to sell bulletproof vests must either legally manufacture them in the country or receive authorization to import them.
In Queensland, Northern Territory, New South Wales, South Australia, Victoria, and ACT, bulletproof vests are classified as prohibited weapons as per the Weapons Prohibition Act of 1998. They are classified as “miscellaneous articles” in the Act along with Tasers, handcuffs, and sap gloves. It is illegal to possess these items without a permit that is only given to those with “genuine reason.” These reasons include recreation/sporting, business/employment, historical reenactment, cinematic purpose, weapons collection, or public museum. Consequences of being caught with body armor and not a permit is up to 2 years if tried in a local court and 14 years if tried in a district court.
Canada’s laws regarding body armor vary from province to province. Everywhere, a license is needed to sell. In Ontario, Nova Scotia, and Quebec, it is 100% legal. Legislation has been drafted and considered, but never passed. In British Columbia and Alberta, however, citizens need a permit as per the Body Armor Control Act. Permits are issued with legitimate personal or occupational need, and applicants must pass a criminal background assessment. The permit costs $50 a year, and those caught in possession of body armor without a permit are subject to fines up to $10,000 or six months in prison.
Across the United States, there are restrictions against violent convicted felons owning bulletproof vests. Otherwise, it is generally legal to own body armor with only minor variances from state to state. The restrictions and consequences are all on the basis that law enforcement does not want individuals committing crimes wearing bulletproof vests. A criminal committing a violent offense while wearing body armor would be more difficult to deter and thus could cause more harm because he/she is protected by the armor.
More specific instances of state-by state restrictions and laws include the following:
• In Kentucky, any individual who commits certain violent crimes while wearing a bulletproof vest and carrying a deadly weapon is denied probation and parole.
• In North Carolina, Georgia, South Carolina, Delaware, and Tennessee, it is illegal to wear a bulletproof vest while committing a crime.
• In Louisiana, it is illegal to wear a bulletproof vest on school property.
• In Connecticut, transactions of bulletproofs vests must be made face-to-face. Thus, no online purchases can be made. The consequences of doing so can include up to a 6-month sentence or a $1,000 fine
Generally, all limitations placed on bulletproof vests are minimal and understandable. However, it is important to know as the consequences of breaking these laws and statutes are undesirable.
If you live in the United States and are interested in purchasing a bulletproof vest, check out The Best Bulletproof Vest here.
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