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Congressmembers Higgins & Meng Push for Passage of Aaron Salter, Jr. Responsible Body Armor Possession Act

Bill Designed to Protect Police & Public Safety

  • Congressmember Higgins & Meng Discuss their Body Armor Bill with Community Leaders

During a visit to Buffalo, Congresswoman Grace Meng (NY-6) along with Congressman Brian Higgins (NY-26) advocated for approval of the Aaron Salter, Jr. Responsible Body Armor Possession Act (H.R. 3247). Reps. Meng and Higgins, lead sponsors of the bill, were joined by City of Buffalo Mayor Brown, Buffalo Police Commissioner Joseph Gramaglia, and families of the victims of the Tops Supermarket mass shooting.

“Some like to say, ‘The best way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.’ Aaron Salter was a good guy with a gun, but he was ultimately left defenseless against the military-style weapon and body armor used by the Buffalo shooter,” said Congressman Higgins. “This is a common-sense measure to better protect our neighbors and the good people working every day to respond to emergencies and protect our communities.”

“The only purpose of military-grade body armor is to stop bullets, and when used in the setting of mass shootings, such equipment prolongs these horrific attacks and often leads to more loss of life,” said Congresswoman Grace Meng (D-Queens), member of the House Gun Violence Prevention Task Force. “This bill recognizes the bravery of Aaron Salter Jr., while also laying the groundwork to ensure similar bad actors, like the perpetrator of the Buffalo shooting, don’t get their hands on this type of body armor in the future. This measure will further protect our supermarkets, neighborhoods, and communities and I am proud to be working alongside Rep. Higgins to usher this bill through the House.”

The bill would prohibit the sale, transfer, or possession of enhanced body armor by civilians with exemptions for law enforcement, active-duty military, or others who use the equipment for work.

Mayor Byron W. Brown said, “The Aaron Salter, Jr. Responsible Body Armor Possession Act will help prevent the next mass shooting, like we unfortunately experienced here in Buffalo on May 14th, 2022, from happening in our community and communities across our country. No average person needs tactical body armor for protection. I applaud Congressmembers Higgins and Meng for championing this legislation and for continuing the dialogue on how to keep our communities safe from the gun violence epidemic.”

Buffalo Police Commissioner Joseph A. Gramaglia said, "When officers encounter an active shooter who is armed not only with a high-powered weapon but a military grade vest to defend against our efforts to stop them, it presents a significant challenge and increased threat.  The military grade vest used by the Tops Markets shooter allowed him to continue his deadly racist rampage that should have ended with Aaron's bullet.  This new law will make our communities safer and our police officers safer against deadly threats.  I thank Congressman Higgins and Congresswoman Meng for their efforts to make our communities safer and for recognizing LT. Aaron Salter, who died saving lives."

The use of body armor among mass shooters has increased in recent years, limiting the ability of law enforcement to protect themselves and the community, and consequently making these mass killings more deadly.

In the case of the 2022 racist mass shooting in Buffalo, retired Buffalo Police Officer Aaron Salter, Jr.’s attempt to stop the shooter with his own weapon was thwarted by the shooter’s body armor, and the brave security guard lost his life while saving countless others.

Body armor has been used in many high-profile mass shootings across the country including but not limited to:

2012: Movie Theater in Aurora, Colorado: 12 dead / 70 wounded

2017: First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas: 26 dead / 22 wounded

2021: King Soopers Supermarket in Boulder, Colorado: 10 dead (including a responding police officer)  

2022: Tops Supermarket in Buffalo, New York: 10 dead / 3 wounded

2023 Mall Shooting in Allen, Texas: 8 dead / 7 wounded.

The Congressmembers note their body armor legislation would build on the progress made under the bipartisan Safer Communities Act. The law, approved by Congress and signed by President Biden in 2022, takes several steps to address gun violence in America including strengthening “red flag” policies to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous individuals, investing in Community Violence Intervention programs, and supporting improvements to mental health services and school safety.

The Aaron Salter, Jr. Responsible Body Armor Possession Act is supported by gun safety and law enforcement organizations including Brady and the Major Cities Chiefs Associations.