California State Assemblyman Damon Connolly has introduced a bill that seeks to restrict the sales of body armor to most California residents. Assembly Bill 92 comes in response to the increased use of bulletproof vests by mass shooters. If passed, the bill will make it a misdemeanor offense to buy or sell bullet-resistant body armor or clothing to individuals not employed in certain professions such as law enforcement. Violators could face a fine of up to $10,000. However, those who already own body armor will be allowed to keep it but prohibited from reselling it.
Residents of California, with the exception of law enforcement officers, firefighters, military personnel, security guards, firearms dealers, body armor salespeople, code enforcement officers, and medical first responders, will be prohibited from purchasing soft body armor or armor plates. The California Department of Justice will be authorized to add other exempted professions to the list.
Additionally, the bill proposes that it be a felony offense punishable by up to three years in prison for a person to wear body armor while committing a violent felony involving a firearm. California law currently prohibits convicted felons from possessing or buying body armor.
The bill is modeled after legislation passed in New York last year after a mass shooting in Buffalo, where the shooter wore bullet-resistant armor, allowing him to kill a security guard after being shot by the guard. The Violence Project, a nonprofit research organization that collects data on mass shootings, has reported an increase in the number of mass shooters using body armor in recent years. The data, spanning from 1966 to 2022, showed that 21 mass shootings in the US involved a shooter who wore body armor, with 15 of these incidents occurring after 2010.
While the bill has been introduced in response to concerns over public safety, it has raised concerns about limiting self-defense measures for law-abiding residents, particularly during a time when mass shootings are becoming more frequent in the US. Companies like Wonder Hoodie, a Palo Alto-based company that sells bullet-resistant clothing, are worried that the bill will negatively impact access to wearable body armor, especially for non-violent civilians seeking self-defense equipment or peace of mind.
However, Connolly has stated that he is aware of these concerns and is committed to refining the legislation to strike a balance between protecting public safety and personal protection. He has received feedback from constituents and colleagues regarding personal protection options, which he deems valuable and legitimate.
Marin County Sheriff Jamie Scardina has yet to take a position on the bill, stating that he has not read it in its entirety, and it’s too early to make a determination.
In conclusion, Assembly Bill 92 seeks to restrict the sales of body armor to most California residents, with exemptions for certain professions. While the bill has raised concerns about limiting self-defense measures for law-abiding residents, Connolly is committed to refining the legislation to strike a balance between protecting public safety and personal protection. The bill’s impact on online sales of body armor and armor plates is expected to increase in the coming weeks.