As concerns about personal safety continue to rise, the popularity and accessibility of protective gear like bulletproof vests have also increased. But are they legal? This article delves into the legalities surrounding the ownership and use of Kevlar vests and other body armors in the U.S.
Legal Status of Kevlar Vests
The General Stance
Yes, Kevlar vests and other forms of body armor are generally legal to purchase and own.
Bulletproof vests, also referred to as ballistic vests or bullet-resistant vests, serve as body armor designed to reduce or prevent penetration to the torso from firearm-fired projectiles and explosive fragments. The right to self-defense means that citizens have the legal privilege to purchase and use body armor for both personal and professional protection.
Exceptions and Clarifications
- While purchasing body armor is legal, it’s prohibited for individuals to wear body armor while possessing a dangerous weapon (other than a firearm) during the commission or attempted commission of any offense.
- Federal law, under 18 U.S.C.A. Section 931, forbids anyone convicted of a violent felony from owning or wearing a bulletproof vest, unless required by their employer with prior written certification.
- Convicted felons lose their right to body armor. However, they can obtain vests if required by their employer and with written permission.
- While retailers can legally sell bulletproof vests to the general public, it remains the responsibility of the buyer to ensure they can legally purchase and use it.
Though body armor is legal federally, it’s imperative to be aware of specific state laws that may apply:
- Some states increase sentencing if body armor is used in the commission of a crime.
- States like Louisiana restrict wearing body armor on school premises.
- Connecticut mandates that body armor purchases be made in person, prohibiting online or phone sales.
Selling Body Armor: What to Know
Where You Can Sell
|Face-to-Face Transactions||No need for ID, background checks, or specific record keeping.|
|Shipping||Body armor can be shipped to 49 states, excluding Connecticut.|
|Other Platforms||Selling is permitted in stores, gun shows, websites, phone, or catalogs.|
Restrictions on Sales
- Cannot sell body armor to Connecticut residents via mail.
- Shipping or sending body armor outside the USA requires federal permission..
State Specific Laws
Spotlight on Some States
|Alabama||Any civilian can purchase and use a bulletproof vest, unless convicted of a felony.|
|California||Legal for civilians to buy and use, except for those with felony convictions.|
|Connecticut||Residents are prohibited from buying or selling armor except through face-to-face sales. Online sales to residents are prohibited.|
|Florida||Illegal to wear body armor while committing a crime, but legal to purchase otherwise.|
|Illinois||Illegal to wear body armor while in possession of a dangerous weapon (other than a firearm) during a crime. Otherwise, legal for purchase and use.|
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Can a Kevlar vest stop a bullet?
Yes, Kevlar is often used in bullet-proof vests due to its impact resistance, high strength, and lightweight properties. It is the preferred material for protection against bullets, especially from handguns.
2. Are Kevlar vests still used?
Indeed, Kevlar vests are still in use. While some vests are designed primarily for stab protection against weapons like knives, axes, and broken bottles, many of these stab-proof vests also use Kevlar and offer ballistic protection.
3. Can Kevlar stop a knife?
Absolutely. Kevlar is a synthetic fiber known for its strength and durability. The tightly woven fibers of Kevlar make it difficult to puncture, providing effective protection against knife threats and slashing attacks.
4. Can Kevlar stop an AK-47?
It depends on the distance. While a Kevlar vest might reliably stop an AK-47 bullet from close distances of under 30 meters, it might not be as effective from greater distances, such as 100 meters, when the bullet achieves better gyroscopic stabilization and can penetrate deeper.
In essence, the purchase and use of Kevlar vests are legal for civilians in the US. Nonetheless, wearing one during criminal activity or owning one as a convicted felon can lead to legal repercussions. Before purchasing, always be aware of your state’s specific laws regarding body armor.