Rep. Meng moves to ban civilian use of body armor on the anniversary of Buffalo mass shooting

body armor
Congresswoman Grace Meng reintroduced legislation for the third time that seeks to ban body armor.
Photo Kevin P. Coughlin

On the two-year anniversary of a racially motivated mass shooting that killed ten people in Buffalo, Queens Congresswoman Grace Meng reintroduced legislation to ban the body armor worn by the shooter. 

The Aaron Salter Jr. Responsible Body Armor Possession Act would prohibit the possession, sale or transfer of enhanced body armor, which has high levels of ballistic resistance. Currently all levels of body armor can be legally purchased online. 

It would specifically ban civilian use of armor that meets or exceeds Level 3 ballistic resistance, which protects against rifle ammunition. The proposed legislation only seeks to enforce civilian usage while allowing military and police personnel to use the armor. 

“It should not be the case that anyone with internet access can purchase equipment designed to stop military-grade ammunition,” said Congresswoman Meng, who sits on the House Gun Violence Prevention Task Force. 

The legislation is named after retired police officer Aaron Salter Jr., who served in the Buffalo Police Department for 30 years prior to working as a security guard in the supermarket where the mass shooting took place in 2022. Salter took action against the gunman, but the shot he fired was deflected on the gunman’s body armor and murdered him instead. 

There have been 157 mass shootings in 2024 so far, according to the Gun Violence Archive. It has also recently become more common for gunmen to wear body armor, which has reportedly made mass shootings more lethal. 

Several sellers of body armor reported increased sales in 2022 following mass shootings in Uvalde, Texas and Buffalo. While some states have their own regulations against the purchase, it is easily evaded and not heavily regulated. 

“This is common sense legislation, which I am proud to lead with Rep. [Timothy] Kennedy for the Buffalo community and the far too many others throughout the United States that have experienced the terror and tragedy of gun violence,” said Rep. Meng. “We are not only honoring Aaron Salter Jr., who was a hero, but we are also taking action to protect law enforcement and first responders who will answer future calls.”

“Aaron Salter Jr’s courageous actions bought precious seconds for patrons and employees of Tops Markets to escape, undoubtedly saving lives at the expense of his own,” said Buffalo Congressman Timothy Kennedy. “This type of body armor should not be for sale on store shelves or online.”

Rep. Meng previously introduced the legislation in 2022 and in 2023 with former Buffalo Rep. Brian Higgins, but it has yet to pass. 

“I’m grateful to Congresswoman Meng for her leadership on this issue,” added Rep. Kennedy, who was elected to represent Buffalo earlier this month in a special election