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Legislators introduce The Aaron Salter Jr. Responsible Body Armor Possession Act

Posted at 7:57 PM, Jun 17, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-17 20:12:34-04

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — On Thursday Congressmen Chris Jacobs (NY-27) and Brian Higgins (NY-26), along with Congresswoman Grace Meng (NY-06) introduced the Aaron Salter Jr. Responsible Body Armor Possession Act. The legislation would prohibit the sale, transfer or possession of enhanced body armor by civilians.

Body Armor that meets or exceeds a Level III ballistic resistance level, determined by the National Institution of Justice, would be restricted for civilian use in this legislation. Currently, there are no federal restrictions on civilian access to this level of body armor.

The suspect in the Buffalo Mass Shooting was wearing multiple layers of gear when he was arrested, after police say he shot and killed ten people at the Jefferson Avenue Tops on May 14. The federal criminal complaint filed against the suspect this week states he was wearing, "a tactical helmet, camouflage clothing, and body armor."

Tops security guard Aaron Salter Jr. was killed while trying to save lives. Police say he fired his gun, but the suspect was wearing high-level body armor.

"He was outgunned, and he was out armored," said Higgins. "We can't allow our police to be in inferior situations."

Buffalo Police Commissioner Joseph Gramaglia supports this legislation. "There's no reason for body armor of that level to be out to the average citizen," said Gramaglia on Friday.

"The incident that happened with Aaron Salter," said Jacobs. "The question I raise is 'Why does anyone under the sun have a right to get this military-grade armor?'"

Higgins said the legislation would not impact those who wear this type of body armor professionally. Police and correction officers, federal agents and border patrols would all still be able to wear Level III, and higher, body armor.

"We are trying to keep it out of the hands of the bad guys," said Higgins. "It's called military-grade because it’s made for the military...We’re not tightening the laws enough, and not in the right areas."

The lawmakers are hoping to have this legislation signed into law before January.

Higgins and Jacobs said if state laws need to be revised on body armor, they are confident it will happen.