Editorial: States Should Repeal Body Armor Bans | Opinion

But the state Legislature and Gov. Kathy Hawkle have made it into law, and now one problem lawmakers hoped to solve may actually create more problems when it comes to public safety and gun violence.

Following the 2022 mass shooting at a Tops supermarket in Buffalo that left 10 people dead, state lawmakers passed several laws to address gun violence, including raising the age limit for purchasing semi-automatic rifles and mandating increased data sharing between law enforcement agencies on gun crimes.

It’s all about keeping guns away from potential mass murderers and identifying them before they act on impulse.

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But one bill passed as part of that bill applies not just to shooters but also to potential victims.

Because the 18-year-old shooter in the Buffalo shooting wore a bulletproof vest for protection, lawmakers voted to impose a total ban on the purchase or possession of bulletproof vests by anyone not employed in certain security professions.

As we said in our editorials then, and say again now in the face of a lawsuit to overturn this law, this law was unwise in extending the law to mass shooters to ordinary people who really want to protect themselves from mass shooters: school teachers, taxi and ride-share drivers, bar bouncers, airline pilots, and ordinary citizens walking down the street.

Now, the national gun rights group Firearms Policy Coalition has filed a lawsuit against the state in federal court, arguing that the bulletproof vest ban violates the Second Amendment right to bear arms.

A substantive Second Amendment victory for the groups would provide additional constitutional protections for mass shooters and negate future government attempts to limit their access to the tools that make it easier for them to carry out murders.

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Before the case can be decided, state lawmakers will need to either repeal the ban on body armor protection or simply narrow its scope, such as by making it a crime for people to wear body armor while committing a crime.

In the first place, lawmakers should not have denied citizens basic protections from mass shooters.

And now, because of the lawsuits their laws have caused, they risk making shooters safer at the expense of the public.

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