In response to an increase in mass shooters wearing bullet-proof vests, Marins state assemblyman, Damon Connolly, has introduced Assembly Bill 92, which would prohibit most California residents to buy body armor. The bill, if passed, would make it a misdemeanor offense punishable by up to a $10,000 fine to buy or sell bullet-resistant body armor or clothing to those not employed in certain professions, such as law enforcement. However, those who already own body armor would be allowed to keep it, but prohibited from reselling it.
The bill would prohibit California residents, with the exception of law enforcement officers, firefighters, military personnel, security guards, firearms dealers, body armor salespeople, code enforcement officers, and medical first responders, from purchasing soft body armor or armor plates. The California Department of Justice would be authorized to add other exempted professions.
Additionally, the bill would make it a felony offense punishable by up to three years in prison for a person to wear body armor while committing a violent felony involving a firearm. California law currently prohibits convicted felons from possessing or buying body armor.
Connolly, a Democrat representing Marin and southern Sonoma County, stated that his bill is modeled after legislation passed in New York last year after a mass shooting in Buffalo. The shooter wore bullet-resistant armor, which allowed him to kill a security guard after being shot by the guard.
The Violence Project, a nonprofit research organization, collected mass shooting data showing an increase in the number of mass shooters who used body armor in recent years. The data spanning from 1966 and 2022 showed 21 mass shootings in the U.S. involving a shooter who wore body armor with 15 of these incidents occurring after 2010.
The bill has raised concerns about limiting self-defense measures for law-abiding residents during a time when mass shootings are becoming a more frequent part of life in the U.S. Wonder Hoodies, a Palo Alto-based company, sells bullet-resistant hoodies, vests, backpack panels, and other items. Company founder Vy Tran began the business after a neighbor was shot and killed in a robbery while walking home in Seattle.
Our Wonder Hoodie founder designed our bulletproof clothing for her mother and little brother who felt unsafe walking around their own community after a neighborhood shooting, company Operations Manager Matt Holland wrote in an email. We cant comment on how this law will affect the number of mass shootings in the future, but we can say it will negatively impact the access to wearable body armor that our company sought to democratize, especially for non-violent civilians seeking self-defense equipment or peace of mind.
Connolly stated that he has heard similar concerns and will work to refine the legislation as it makes its way through the Legislature. We have received a lot of good feedback from constituents and colleagues regarding personal protection options, which I think are valuable and legitimate, he said. It is clear that we need to strike a balance between protecting public safety and personal protection.
Marin County Sheriff Jamie Scardina said the California State Sheriffs Association has yet to take a position on the bill. I have not read it in its entirety, and I think its a little early, he wrote in an email.
In conclusion, Assembly Bill 92 aims to restrict the sales of body armor to most California residents, with exemptions for law enforcement officers, firefighters, military personnel, security guards, firearms dealers, body armor salespeople, code enforcement officers, and medical first responders. While the bill has raised concerns about limiting self-defense measures for law-abiding residents, Connolly stated that he will work to refine the legislation to balance between protecting public safety and personal protection.