Can Civilians Buy and Wear Body Armor?
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Can Civilians Buy and Wear Body Armor?

15 Apr 2020
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There is a wide debate can and should civilians buy and wear body armor. While some believe that any militarization of civilians will result in more conflicts, the numbers suggest the opposite. In places where body armor is more common there is the same number of assaults, but a lower casualty rate.

By law, most countries in the world and all states in the US forbid convicted criminals from buying body armor of any kind. But some suggest that this doesn’t include people who are future criminals. This is probably a good thing, as no police officer or security provider wants to kill anyone, including perpetrators. We want them captured, convicted, and serving their time.

Finally, as we know that an overwhelming majority of gun crimes in the United States have been perpetrated with a 9mm handgun and more than 9 out of 10 with handguns in general. This means that soft and light body armor would have saved probably tens of thousands of lives if all of the victims were wearing it.

Cultural Views on Arming Civilians

Even inside a single state, there will be regions where wearing external carriers in camo paint will be either happily greeted or frowned upon. Urbanized regions where many different people share a limited space are usually against open carry of both arms and armor.

But, the further you go inland, the more people will be open to the idea that protecting yourself and your property is a civic duty. Some people have the pleasure of living in areas where staying prepared doesn't make you dangerous, but a patriot.

Thankfully, both groups can and should wear bulletproof vests. For those who don’t want to show them, these vests should be covert and hidden under their clothes. And if you want to wear them in the open, you can opt for a comfortable external carrier that you can take on and off at will.

Laws Concerning Body Armor for Civilians

While body armor is generally legal to buy and own in all States, different laws further decree this mater, depending on the local relationship with body armor and defensive gear in particular.

Thankfully, unlike the gun debate, there is no question if body armor can be used as an offensive tool. Body armor doesn’t kill people, nor do people kill people with body armor, it just protects.

Apart from a few states where this is not explicitly written into law and refers to 18 U.S.C. 931, most places don’t allow convicted criminals to buy body armor. This is under the idea that a person is less likely to try to commit a crime if they know that they can’t be protected, which sounds reasonable.

The only exception is Connecticut. In this state, it is still legal to buy and own any type of body armor as a law-abiding citizen, but you need to buy it personally. Online purchases and shipping inside the state are forbidden.

Rest of the World

In the rest of the world, laws may vary a bit and it is usually frowned upon for foreigners to overtly wear body armor. Also, you might need a certificate from the police before you can buy it. These types of papers are usually to prove that you are not convicted of a violent crime or a potential affiliate of a violent group.

While rarely legally explicit, it is much better to wear covert armor in most places, as well as in most situations. This way there is little chance for the police to bother you for your certificates and IDs. Also, some private businesses will be reluctant to allow you entry if you seem armed, which might become an issue for your daily tasks.

Special Locations

There are some places where wearing armor is forbidden, even for law-abiding citizens. The State of Louisiana doesn't allow wearing bulletproof vests on school property. This may seem reasonable at first, but we should remember that school shooters already plan for a much bigger criminal offense.

Thankfully, students can and should wear body armor in all other states. In the wake of recent shootings, it is a good idea to have some armor at the ready in your backpack. Even better is to wear covert armor under your clothes, as you may stay protected in all situations.

Who Needs Body Armor?

Virtually everyone would want to wear body armor, either on the job or during daily tasks. Any situation where you will find yourself in the presence of people you don’t know you will want to stay protected.

This goes double for anyone working directly with people, such as security or emergency services, or even sales. Small shop owners or people working in general stores are some of the most common victims of crimes. You want to be sure that you don’t lose your life over a couple of hundred dollars that may be in the till.

Finally, anyone protecting or maintaining venues and locales will need a bulletproof vest they could wear for the whole workday. Even though these jobs rarely involve someone attacking you directly, there are regular conflicts between patrons and you don't want a stray bullet finding its way to you.

Gun Defense Race

It is, unfortunately, true that when everyone can buy body armor, this often includes people who are radicalized and started affiliating with terrorists or gangs without anyone knowing. This means that future terrorists and criminals can also wear body armor.

But, that doesn’t mean that you should be an easy target for them. You want to survive and stay protected until help arrives. The best way to do this is with good body armor.

Conclusion

While some think body armor is just an invitation for conflict, all law-abiding civilians can and should buy body armor. And if you don't want to stand out, you should buy covert body armor.

Soft armor is light and comfortable and can be worn all day. For every citizen who recognizes their rights, as well as their civic duty, staying protected and vigilant should become a daily routine.

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Plate Size (Inches)
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Panel Size (Inches)
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CHEST (INCHES)
30 - 32
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XL/L
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Height (Foot)
5.2' - 5.7'
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5.2' - 5.7'
5.8' - 6.3'
5.2' - 5.7'
5.8' - 6.3'
5.2' - 5.7'
5.8' - 6.3'
5.2' - 5.7'
5.8' - 6.3'
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5.8' - 6.3'
CHEST (INCHES)
31 - 33
34 - 35
36 - 37
36 - 37
38 - 40
38 - 40
41 - 43
41 - 43
44 - 47
44 - 47
48 - 49
48 - 49
50 - 53
WAIST (INCHES)
26 - 27
28 - 29
30. - 31
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35 - 37
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38 - 41
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2XS/S
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M/S
M/L
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L/L
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XL/L
Height (Foot)
5.2' - 5.6'
5.2' - 5.6'
5.2' - 5.6'
5.7' - 6.0'
5.2' - 5.6'
5.7' - 6.0'
5.2' - 5.6'
5.7' - 6.0'
5.2' - 5.6'
5.7' - 6.0'
CHEST (INCHES)
30 - 31
32 - 33
34 - 35
34 - 35
36 - 37
36 - 37
38 - 39
38 - 39
40 - 41
40 - 41
WAIST (INCHES)
22 - 23
24 - 25
26 - 27
26 - 27
28 - 29
28 - 29
30 - 31
30 - 31
32 - 33
32 - 33
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13"
15"
17"
Length (Inches)
13
14
15
Width (INCHES)
9
10
11
Thickness (INCHES)
0.6
0.9
1.0