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Mass Shooters Like Dayton Suspect & Others, In Addition to Man Who Just Caused Panic In A Missouri Walmart, Acquired Sophisticated Body Armor With Ease; Sophisticated Body Armor Is Available Online Or Over Phone For Easy Purchase In All 50 States

Schumer Says Too Many Of Those Who Purchase Body Armor Are Up To No Good And Must Be Stopped From Getting It; Should Be In Addition To –Not A Substitute For—Background Checks   

Schumer: Wares Of War Demand FBI Checks, Especially Now

Noting how those intent on doing evil turn to sophisticated body armor, including last Sunday’s shooting tragedy in Dayton, Ohio and a recent scare in a Missouri Walmart, U.S. Senator Charles Schumer announced, today, that he will author new legislation that requires Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) permission before anyone except law enforcement and other safety-related exceptions can get advanced body armor. Schumer cited the shocking ease by which this kind of armor is available and noted the tactics utilized by those intent on doing evil in recent and past tragedies. Schumer warned this ease of acquiring the advanced armor presents a sustained public safety threat.    

“Shockingly, with the click of a mouse, the scroll of a thumb or the dialing of a phone, just about anyone can order-up the kind of  advanced armor or tactical law enforcement gear we see used in wars or all-out law enforcement raids, and that is unacceptable and needs to change,” said U.S. Senator Charles Schumer. “As the pattern of these purchases becomes more and more predictable, we have to take a serious look at who is seeking this sophisticated armor and approving of a sale in the first place."

Schumer’s legislation would require FBI permission before anyone except law enforcement –and other safety-related exceptions—can purchase sophisticated body armor. This would empower the FBI to set regulations as to who can get advanced body armor, but would be narrowly tailored, noting a purchase would require a legitimate purpose, like an occupational requirement.  

According to CNN, advanced body armor like the kind used in Dayton, is “readily available to anyone online, where bulletproof vests can go for $185, and a tactical mask can be purchased for just $10."

Schumer says the gunmen that have terrorized American cities and communities got this gear with shocking ease. The gunman responsible for the shooting in Dayton, Ohio was dressed in body armor—including an advanced bulletproof vest and headgear. Most recently, this past Thursday, a man dressed in body armor and armed with a rifle caused a panic when he entered a Walmart in Springfield Missouri. And just last week, a gunman wearing tactical gear killed three people at the Gilroy Garlic Festival in California. Additionally, the perpetrators of the 2017 Sutherland Springs church shooting, the 2015 Umpqua Community College shooting, and the 2012 Aurora Theater shooting, among others, all wore body armor as a way to protect themselves against law enforcement.

The body armor used in many of these mass-shootings is widely available across the U.S. Sophisticated armor vests, such as the one used in Ohio, can be purchased online for as low as $185—they can also be purchased on eBay. There are few legal barriers to purchasing the armor, aside from convicted violent and drug-related felons being barred. Some armor is even marked to protect wearers from armor-piercing bullets used by law enforcement officers. Even some of the most sophisticated tactical gear is available online for just a few hundred dollars.  

Currently, body armor is scarcely regulated throughout the country. The only federal regulation, passed in 2002, was a prohibition on violent or drug-related felons owning or purchasing body armor. The strictest state regulation is in Connecticut, where people must purchase body armor in-person, as opposed to receiving it in the mail. Schumer said this kind of ease is a real-time public safety threat, especially when the risk of copycats is considered.

“Sadly, these shootings are happening so frequently that there is a sort of checklist,” added Schumer. “People intent on doing evil might look into past shootings they seek to emulate. They might look into the weapons used, and then the gear worn, and now the veritable mass shooting checklist includes body armor. The bottom-line here is that the ease by which one can acquire wares of war demands the FBI sets reasonable regulations on who can get it."

Due to the unregulated nature of body armor sales, there is not a centralized way of tracking ownership or use in shootings. One study found that 5% of a group of 110 active shooters between 2000 and 2012 used body armor. As noted following past uses of body armor by mass-shooters, the high-grade armor available protects the shooter from most attempts by law enforcement and ultimately makes them more difficult to subdue.  

Schumer said he will introduce this legislation after the recess.