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Is it Legal for Civilians to Buy Body Armor In My State?

Body armor is designed to act as a personal protective layer of clothing designed to absorb or deflect physical attacks. Historically, body armor has been worn by those in the most dangerous career fields, such as police, military, security, and even bodyguards. However, with dangerous situations and civil unrest on the rise, more and more civilians are turning to body armor to protect themselves and their families from the unknown of what could happen.

While it may seem like a no-brainer that everyday citizens should have access to personal protection equipment, some federal and state regulations are in place that can make it a little bit harder to obtain it in certain circumstances or locations. These restrictions are in place to ensure that the people who are getting body armor aren’t going to use it for criminal activities, and are only solely getting it for its intended use – personal protection.

In this blog, we’ll explore a few of the regulations regarding whether or not it is legal to buy body armor in your state.

Federal Body Armor Restrictions
Under federal law, body armor is regulated by statute 18 U.S.C. Section 931. This code states that, generally, it is illegal for a person to purchase, own, or possess body armor if that person has been convicted of a felony that is a crime of violence or an offense under State law that would constitute a crime of violence.

An exception to this law is if the person is wearing body armor as an employee in order to perform lawful duties related to the job at hand, and who has obtained prior written certification from the employer. Possessing and using the body armor, in this circumstance, must be limited to on-the-job activity and not using it for personal reasons.

State Body Armor Restrictions
A majority of the fifty states (see Body Armor Laws by State) regulate body armor by prohibiting possession by convicted criminals, enhancing sentences for underlying crimes, and using body armor as a crime itself.

This means that if a person has been previously convicted of a felony, it is generally impossible for that person to purchase body armor. Wearing body armor as a crime acts similarly to if a person committed a crime while having a knife or weapon on them. This signifies that the person had intent, and generally will add a separate charge stating that they were wearing body armor. Enhancing sentences is used in some states, like California, where they will add a term of years to the sentence for the underlying crime. This can mean the judge will add a few years to the sentence, or the state may elevate the level of the felony if body armor is involved.

Connecticut has the strictest regulations regarding the selling and purchasing of body armor. Residents are prohibited from purchasing or selling body armor unless it is a face-to-face sale. It is a Class B misdemeanor in Connecticut and can result in 6-month imprisonment, a $1,000 fine, or both.

Of course, there are some exceptions. If you are an authorized member of the police force, Board of Parole or Pardons, armed forces or National Guard, Division of Criminal Justice, or if you are in charge of purchasing for any of the previously stated groups – you are authorized to purchase body armor online.

Can I Buy Body Armor in My State?
Generally, most states allow the purchase of body armor by civilians. There are plenty of places to find the right kind of personal protection equipment for you either online, or at a local business near you. Unless you have been convicted of a felony, or live in the state of Connecticut, it is lawful to order body armor for yourself. Some states and local municipalities do have restrictions as to when and where people can use body armor. It is wise to check in with your local authorities to ensure you aren’t breaching any of these restrictions.

The team at Next Day Armor has plenty of experience working with body armor and in the personal protection industry. However, we are not the official authority of these laws and regulations nor are we experts on judicial matters. This blog was written with the intent of giving general advice based on our personal experience, knowledge, and research. It is not intended as legal advice, and we recommend finding an expert on the topic if you have specific questions or concerns.

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