Why can’t civilians use military-grade, type III body armor?
This is what the latest legislative act a Congressman from San Jose hopes to enforce – to ban civilians from having access to military body armor to prevent criminals from using them in gun battles with law enforcement.
Why is this military grade rated Type III body armor available to civilians?
Responsible Body Armor Possession Act Of 2014
San Jose Rep. Mike Honda announced on August 6 that his proposed bill – the “Responsible Body Armor Possession Act of 2014” (under H.R. 5344), would discourage criminals from wearing military grade body protection to commit mass shootings.
In other words, he said his bill would prevent military-specified grade body armor from getting into the wrong hands. The bill would specifically allow use of enhanced body armor only to firefighters, law enforcement, and other first responders.
More Protection Than Bullet-Proof Vests
By military grade body armor, the Congressman refers to not just the military-compliant bullet-proof vest but body armor designed for protection against law enforcement ammunitions and warfare.
An increasing number of mass shootings involve armored assailants, difficult to distinguish from real law enforcers.
Preventing Impact Energy Of Bullets
Body armor materials are designed to absorb impact energy that a bullet creates when it hits the body. The armor should be able to take energy possessed by the bullet and distribute it across the material.
The power of the bullet is taken away as the impact energy is absorbed by the material. Body armor also comes with inner plates made from ceramic or metal. The inner plates which are attached to the body armor by brass rivets provide additional body protection and bullet-stopping power.
This illustrates how the bullet’s impact energy is diminished as it comes closer to the body.
Increasing And Alarming Incidents Involving Armored Assailants
The bill was a response to the increasing shooting incidents involving armored assailants in recent years and experts say these were bolstered by unrestricted access to military grade body armor.
With practically anyone having access to create body armor of the same grade which is used by the military, criminals and mass shooters have become bolder and fearless.
Well-Armored Shooter Is The Most Dangerous
Rep. Honda shares the common opinion that nothing can be more dangerous than a well-armored shooter, fully-protected from head to toe. And there is an alarming increase in violent and gun-related incidents where the shooter is in full body armor.
The shooters may or may not be hardened criminals but because of the high-level of protection they have using the military body armor, even inexperienced shooters are lured into the act.
What HR 5344 Prohibits
The proposed H.R. 5344 would prohibit civilians from possessing, owning, transferring or buying armor rated Type III or higher according to the penetration resistance scale of the National Institute of justice. Such armor includes:
Body armor like these shouldn’t be available to civilians.
Endorsement From Law Enforcement Organizations
Honda’s proposed bill has received endorsement from various law enforcement organizations including the:
- California State Sheriff’s Association
- Peace Officers Research Association of California
- Fraternal Order of Police
Penalty: Up To Ten Years Jail Time
Violation of the proposed access restriction could mean a jail time penalty of up to ten years. The bill does not apply to lower-rating armor Type I or Type II which would still be available to civilians if the proposed bill is approved and made into law.
If bullet proof backpacks for school children are made from type III military grade materials, they will also be banned.
Do you own military-grade body armor?