phone: 702-829-4029
Body Armor Laws: The Truth about Purchasing & Wearing a Bulletproof Vest

Body Armor Laws: The Truth about Purchasing & Wearing a Bulletproof Vest

Posted by Maren McElroy on 16th Sep 2020

Many people are unclear about body armor laws. They may have heard or read things about the legality of purchasing body armor that were untrue or even contradictory. Despite the fact that there are many legitimate reasons to own body armor, people have been told that wearing a bulletproof vest is illegal if you aren't a police officer or in the military.

This kind of misinformation is all too prevalent these days. It leaves law-abiding citizens that want to properly protect themselves, their families, and their communities feeling like they've got no place to turn. Even worse, it can make good people – neighborhood watch members, EMTs, Security Officers, and other civilians who care deeply about those around them and would risk themselves to help others – feel like outlaws for even thinking about purchasing body armor for protection. It's time to set the record straight once and for all. Let's go over the most common misconceptions and correct them with facts.

Misconception #1: Civilians Buying/Owning Body Armor Is Illegal

This is FALSE. Law-abiding civilians are 100% welcome to buy bulletproof vests. Many wrongly believe that purchasing body armor is illegal largely because many manufacturers and sellers prefer to limit their sales to law enforcement. Many manufacturers and sellers make the choice to sell their body armor exclusively to police officers. This preference is not a reflection of any law saying that civilians can't buy, own, or wear a bulletproof vest. It is absolutely legal for civilians to own body armor.

Misconception #2: There Are Heavy Restrictions on Who Can Purchase/Wear Bulletproof Vests

Not really. There are some laws in place regarding who can or can't purchase body armor but most of them are very reasonable. In fact, there are only 3 main restrictions on purchasing body armor:

  1. Residents of the state of Connecticut cannot have body armor shipped to their home. If they buy body armor online, it must be shipped to a secure address outside of Connecticut or purchased face to face - with a few exceptions for military and police.
  2. You cannot buy a bulletproof vest if you have been convicted of a violent felony in the past.
  3. Body armor is meant to protect law-abiding citizens, not criminals. If you wear body armor while committing a crime, the penalty may be increased substantially.

Those laws don't seem excessive or overly restrictive at all, do they? Connecticut is the state with some restrictions and still, it isn't that bad. Their laws have exceptions of course. The in-person mandate doesn't apply to any kind of law enforcement officer or those empowered to purchase equipment on their behalf. The armed forces are likewise exempt.

Connecticut is the only state where online purchases are restricted. However, in Connecticut, you can have it shipped to your address if you meet in person to make the purchase or you can make the purchase online if you pick it up in person. A face-to-face meeting just needs to occur at some point.

Even the law that disqualifies felons from purchasing body armor has its exceptions. If you have prior written documentation stating that the body armor is necessary for the duties of your employment, then you have an affirmative defense of the charge. This means if you prove that this defense applies to you, even if they prove the charge, it could invalidate your criminal liability.

The law regarding sentence enhancement isn't a federal one and it doesn't apply to every state. But, no matter what state you live in, the very best thing to do is to never commit a crime wearing body armor.

As you can see, there are a few reasonable laws in place. There are no crazy restrictions on law-abiding citizens. There are also no background checks or permits required to purchase body armor.

Misconception #3: Only Criminals Would Want/Need Bulletproof Vests

This is absolutely untrue! Most people who are interested in buying body armor are good people who want to protect themselves and the people they love. They just want to ensure their own safety and the safety of everyone around them.

So who needs body armor? Well, the people on your street who volunteer for the neighborhood watch deserve body armor. First Responders who don't get issued a vest but still might find themselves in a high threat situation absolutely need body armor. Hospital Security who protect the doctors and nurses, so they can continue to save lives also need body armor. Really, anyone who knows they would do anything to protect their loved ones and their home should have armor. And these are just a few of the examples!

There are MANY people who should consider wearing a bulletproof vest and deserve to be thought of during any discussion about body armor (before criminals come to mind)! There are so many amazing people who put their lives on the line for the rest of us every single day and don't even think twice about it. They deserve the comfort of knowing that something is there to protect them in return. In situations like that, a bulletproof vest is the same as a helmet or a seat belt. Bulletproof vests increase safety and can't cause harm by themselves; they can only protect.

Bottom Line

Body armor laws are mostly practical regulations that don’t prevent the vast majority of people from owning body armor. Since body armor doesn’t cause harm in the hands of law-abiding citizens, there are no laws preventing most civilians from purchasing body armor. Wearing a bulletproof vest is a lot like wearing a helmet or seat belt. Though body armor can't protect the wearer from every possible threat, it is still important because it is meant to protect the wearer from harm as much as possible. Bulletproof vests aren't dangerous and are in no way a weapon, so access to them is usually easy, despite popular belief. If you're interested in purchasing body armor, browse our products or contact us to order your own bulletproof vest to protect yourself.

The words “bulletproof vest” and “body armor” have become interchangeable. Body armor vest is not “bulletproof” but rather is bullet-resistant. Body armor doesn’t protect the wearer from every threat.

Other Sources:,to%20anyone%20in%20the%20US.&text=The%20US%20has%20a%20federal,931).