Higgins and Meng Introduce Legislation to Prohibit the Sale and Transfer of Body Armor to Potential Mass Shooters
Lawmakers reintroduce the bill, named in honor of Aaron Salter, Jr., ahead of the one-year anniversary of the Buffalo massacre
Washington, DC, May 12, 2023
In advance of the one-year anniversary of the Tops Friendly Market grocery store shooting in Buffalo, New York, U.S. Reps. Grace Meng (D-NY) and Brain Higgins (D-NY) announced the reintroduction of the Aaron Salter, Jr. Responsible Body Armor Possession Act.
The legislation is named in memory of Aaron Salter, Jr., the supermarket security guard killed in the massacre who was unable to stop the shooter since he was protected by enhanced body armor during the attack. Salter, a resident of Lockport, New York, was a 30-year veteran of the Buffalo Police Department.
The bill would prohibit the sale, transfer or possession of enhanced body armor by civilians unless they meet specific employment exemptions such as law enforcement or active-duty military personnel. Enhanced body armor is defined as body armor that meets or exceeds a Level III ballistic resistance level—which is tested to stop 7.62mm rifle ammunition—as determined by the National Institution of Justice.
“One year ago, a racist, hateful individual traveled to my community of Western New York to commit mass violence at a supermarket on Jefferson Avenue in East Buffalo,” said Congressman Higgins. “Armed with an AR-15 assault weapon, he shot 13 of our neighbors, killing 10 of them in just two minutes and three seconds. It is often said that the best way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun. Retired police officer Aaron Salter, Jr., the security guard on duty on May 14, 2022, was a good guy with a gun, but his weapon was no match for the military-grade body armor the shooter wore. Body armor designed for war zones has no place in our neighborhoods. The Aaron Salter, Jr. Responsible Body Armor Possession Act prohibits civilians from buying and selling this enhanced armor. I am proud to once again join Rep. Meng in introducing this commonsense measure. It protects communities, as well as law enforcement answering the call when public safety is at risk.”
“In past mass shootings, perpetrators have worn body armor that has prolonged the duration of these horrific attacks,” said Congresswoman Meng, a member of the House Gun Violence Prevention Task Force. “Aaron Salter, Jr., faced such an individual whose body armor ensured that the massacre continued despite shots received from Salter’s firearm. The fact that bad actors have access to equipment designed to stop military grade ammunition is dangerous for communities and threatens law enforcement’s ability to respond during a shooting. We must do any and everything we can to limit the devastation of mass shootings before they begin. Our bill is a commonsense step to ensure dangerous individuals cannot access enhanced body armor. I thank Congressman Higgins for his leadership and we will work to see it signed into law.”
“Mass shooters have only one objective: to kill as many people as quickly as possible,” said Kris Brown, President of Brady. “More and more commonly, they are employing body armor during these shootings to protect themselves, prolonging their attacks and making it much more difficult for law enforcement to intervene. Brady applauds Representatives Meng and Higgins for introducing legislation to prevent mass shooters from accessing military-grade protective armor.”
“When a criminal or dangerous individual is wearing enhanced body armor, they can often continue their violent acts even after being engaged by law enforcement,” said Laura Cooper, Executive Director of the Major Cities Chiefs Association. “Tragedies such as the Tops Supermarket shooting in Buffalo have shown the challenge this can pose. The MCCA thanks Rep. Higgins and Rep. Meng for their leadership and for honoring the memory of retired Buffalo Police Officer Aaron Salter, Jr., by introducing this critical piece of legislation.”
In addition to Buffalo, shootings by gunmen wearing body armor have taken place in Sutherland Springs, Texas; Aurora, Colorado; Boulder, Colorado; San Bernardino, California and many other communities.
The legislation can be viewed here.