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Bill Would Make New York First State to Ban Bulletproof Vests

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• January 14, 2021 4:54 pm

A New York lawmaker is attempting to seize body armor from civilians and would make it illegal to buy the protective gear in the state.

The bill from assemblymember Jonathan G. Jacobson (D.) would outlaw the sale and possession of body armor in the state of New York. The bill would require residents who own a bulletproof vest to turn them over to police within 15 days of the bill becoming law. It would make New York the first state to ban the purchase or possession of bulletproof vests for law-abiding residents.

New York already has a ban on the use of bulletproof vests while carrying out "any violent felony offense," but Jacobson's proposal would go beyond criminal use of the vests. New York has traditionally been at the forefront of efforts to restrict guns and associated accessories. If Jacobson's bill passes, it could be the start of a trend across other blue states to target the protective items even outside their use in any specific crime.

Second Amendment advocates have already begun to speak out against the law. The Firearms Policy Coalition created the website BodyArmorBan.com in order to mobilize against the proposal. The group said in a message on the site that Jacobson's bill "deprives New Yorkers of their right to passive defense by instituting a confiscatory ban on body armor."

The Firearms Policy Coalition noted the bill provides an exception for police officers and questioned why normal citizens should not be allowed the same protections.

"As is tradition, police are exempt from this new restraint on the right to keep and bear arms," the group said on its website.

Jacobson's office did not respond to a request for comment.

The bill, prefiled on Jan. 6, allows the New York secretary of state to make further exceptions but does not specifically exempt any group beyond police. Julio Rosas, a senior writer for Townhall.com who covered the violent riot at the Capitol as well as those throughout the country this summer, said the bill could be harmful to journalists who utilize bulletproof vests while doing their job.

"I got shot with a rubber bullet when I didn't have body armor," Rosas told the Washington Free Beacon. "So, that's why I got it to protect me against getting hit with crowd-control munitions. And then, as the unrest continued, it showed I also need to make sure I wear it because there is often gunfire at these riots."

Rosas said he witnessed shootings at riots multiple times throughout the summer. He noted that it is common for his media colleagues covering such events to also wear bulletproof vests and other forms of protection. He said it would be much harder for him to cover unrest in New York if the ban went into place and may have to avoid covering it altogether.

"If we really want to talk about press freedoms, that has to be a part of a conversation," Rosas said. "In order to do our job safely and show the American people what's happening, we need to be able to protect ourselves."

Jacobson's confiscation bill has not yet garnered any cosponsors since the legislative session began last week. A second bill offered by Jacobson, which would criminalize wearing body armor while committing any misdemeanor, has already picked up three cosponsors.