Rep. Higgins Renews Push for Aaron Salter Bulletproof Vest Bill in Congress


New York Reps. Brian Higgins and Grace Meng are in Buffalo on Thursday seeking approval of a bulletproof vest bill that they say will keep law enforcement and community members safe.

The Aaron Salter Jr. Responsible Carrying of Bulletproof Vests Act is named after the former Buffalo Police Department patrolman who lost his life along with nine others on May 14, 2022. Attempts to stop Salter’s mass murder were thwarted by the shooter’s military-grade bulletproof vest.

Congressman Grace Meng

Thomas O’Neill White

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WBFO News

Congressman Grace Meng

Meng and Higgins, the Queens Assemblywomen, are the lead sponsors of a bill that would ban the sale, transfer and possession of reinforced bulletproof vests, except for those in military, law enforcement or security roles.

Surrounded by family members of victims of the Topps shooting at the Frank Meriweather Jr. Library, Higgins said the bill is meant to honor Salter’s bravery in the hope that no one else will be defenseless enough to try to stop a mass shooter.

“This is a common-sense measure that builds on the bipartisan Safer Communities Act that was approved by Congress and signed into law by President Biden in 2022,” he said. “It honors the life of Officer Salter, a 30-year veteran of the Buffalo Police Department who selflessly put himself at risk to protect his neighbors from a racist shooter who targeted Buffalo communities.”

Buffalo Police Chief Joseph Gramaria provided a replica of the bulletproof vest used by the shooter and said the bill is supported by law enforcement agencies across North America.

“This bill also has the full support of the Major Cities Police Chiefs Association, which represents 70 of the largest municipal police departments across the nation and nine of the largest municipal police departments in Canada,” he said. “They fully support and are behind this bill.”

The same bill struggled to pass the House a year ago, and Meng said the House would accept the bill whether it was considered on its own or as part of a public safety package.

“Public emotion and perceptions are often the power that moves mountains,” she said. “We want the public to know more about how problematic this was, and how it prevented Lt. Salter from using life-saving techniques that he could have used on that fateful day.”

Higgins said persistence will be the winning factor in passing the bill.

Buffalo Police Chief Joseph Gramaria showed off the type of bulletproof vest used in the May 14, 2022, Topps shooting.

Thomas O’Neill White

/

WBFO News

Buffalo Police Chief Joseph Gramaria showed off the type of bulletproof vest used in the May 14, 2022, Topps shooting.

“Here’s the story: 10,000 bills are introduced in the U.S. Congress every year and 63 of them pass. It’s not a good ratio. But if you give up, you’re not going to win,” he said.

The bill would not affect reinforced bulletproof vests already owned, but would allow for lower-level bulletproof vests that can be penetrated by less powerful ammunition.





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