It will become illegal in July to sell bulletproof vests to most civilians in New York after the governor signed into law a package of “gun safety measures” in the wake of the mass shooting at a supermarket in Buffalo in May.
Gov. Kathy Hochul (D-N.Y.) signed state Senate Bill 9407B on June 6 making the purchase of a bulletproof body vest a class A misdemeanor for first-time offenders and a class E felony thereafter.
The only exceptions to the law will be for those “engaged or employed in an eligible profession” such as police officers, peace officers, military personnel, and professions designated by the Department of State.
Republican state Sen. George Borrello of the 57th senate district, who voted against the package of bills, said the fast-tracked process meant lawmakers didn’t hear from a broader subsection of New Yorkers in professions that sometimes require body armor.
“Everything was rushed at the end of session for political reasons and leaving this for rules to be promulgated by the Department of State as to who and who cannot get them is going to become very political,” he told local media Spectrum News 1.
“I spoke to a group of doctors that actually show up in situations in questionable neighborhoods that want body armor for them to purchase,” he added. “What about the taxi driver? What about a guy that works at a convenience store overnight?”
Democrat state Sen. Sean Ryan said when the bill passed that New York lawmakers were taking action because “the federal government refuse to act.”
The piece of legislation was part of a package of 10 “gun safety measures” New York state lawmakers pushed through their legislature after mass shootings at a Tops supermarket in Buffalo and an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas.
“I don’t know anybody who wears body armor unless they’re in law enforcement or security, so there’s been a proliferation of sales, but I’ve never met anybody who walks around with body armor on,” Ryan told Spectrum News 1.
Body armor worn by the Tops supermarket gunman who killed 10 people on May 14 has been cited by police as the reason a retired Buffalo officer working security on site was unable to stop the suspect.
Ryan pointed to this while disputing a common argument that “good guys” with guns can stop “the bad guy with the gun.”
“But in this case, the bad guy with the gun had body armor on and the retired police officer, Officer [Aaron] Salter, could not stop him,” Ryan said.
“Why the heck are we selling body armor to civilians that have nothing to do with public safety?” he added.