A ban on body armor? Seriously?

Given the number of incredibly stupid ideas that get cooked up in the New York State legislature, it can be tough to point to any of them that truly stand head and shoulders above the rest in terms of idiocy. But with a recent measure introduced a couple of weeks ago, we may have a candidate. Democratic Assemblyman Jonathan G. Jacobson of Poughkeepsie has penned legislation that would ban the ownership of body armor for anyone except police officers in the state. On top of that, Jacobson goes one step further and not only fails to grandfather any body armor purchased before the ban goes into effect, but commands that all currently owned vests be turned over to the police within two weeks or the owners would face fines and/or imprisonment. The bill’s author offers no explanation as to what danger a law-abiding citizen wearing body armor poses to society, but he’s clearly determined that this is A Bad Thing. (Free Beacon)

A New York lawmaker is attempting to seize body armor from civilians and would make it illegal to buy the protective gear in the state.

The bill from assemblymember Jonathan G. Jacobson (D.) would outlaw the sale and possession of body armor in the state of New York. The bill would require residents who own a bulletproof vest to turn them over to police within 15 days of the bill becoming law. It would make New York the first state to ban the purchase or possession of bulletproof vests for law-abiding residents…

Second Amendment advocates have already begun to speak out against the law. The Firearms Policy Coalition created the website BodyArmorBan.com in order to mobilize against the proposal. The group said in a message on the site that Jacobson’s bill “deprives New Yorkers of their right to passive defense by instituting a confiscatory ban on body armor.”

While it’s true that criminals using body armor can make it much more difficult for police to take them down, it’s already illegal to wear body armor during the commission of a crime under state law. It’s one of those sentencing “enhancements” that can put the most violent criminals away for even longer and perhaps serve as a deterrent to those considering such a course of action.

This proposed law, however, is something entirely different. It creates a presumption of guilt even for those with no criminal record whatsoever. Also, while we all want to keep our law enforcement officers safe, off-duty officers are not presumed to have any rights and privileges above and beyond the common folk. This guy is seriously trying to pass legislation that effectively creates two classes of citizens.

While we’re on the subject of exceptions, as the Free Beacon article notes, what will New York’s government say to other types of workers who regularly go into harm’s way? Reporters, in particular, who cover the crime beat in dangerous neighborhoods or who are sent out into the midst of riots in New York City and elsewhere frequently wear body armor to keep them safe. Some media outlets even provide such protection to their news crews. Are you going to lock them all up? The same goes for EMTs in some areas.

But even if you’re not a member of one of those professions, just stepping out on the street these days can be dangerous enough. The number of shootings and murders in the Big Apple has been steadily rising in a return to the bad old days of the 80s and early 90s. If I were daft enough to move back to Gotham at this point (I’m not, by the way), I would certainly invest in some body armor before venturing out on the streets. If the state government embraces this idea, they will be ensuring that the only civilians with the ability to protect themselves in this manner are the criminals who are willing to flaunt the law because they’re already up to no good anyway. When body armor is outlawed, only outlaws will have body armor… aside from the cops, that is.

The bill does contain a provision allowing the Secretary of State to create additional exceptions for more people to be able to own body armor, but that doesn’t address any of the issues I’ve raised here. Thankfully, Jacobson’s dangerously idiotic bill hasn’t attracted any cosponsors yet, but that’s no guarantee of a wave of sanity sweeping through Albany. Plenty of very bad legislation has made its way to the Governor’s desk without a lengthy list of sponsors. There’s been no comment from Governor Cuomo yet as to whether or not he would support this effort, but I absolutely wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if he did.

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