We understand the urgency with which the State Legislature and Governor Kathy Hochul passed a set of laws designed to address gun violence.
The racially-inspired mass murder of 10 people at Tops supermarket in our own town of Buffalo and the mass murder days later of 19 elementary school children and two teachers in Uvalde, Texas, both deeply marked our hearts.
Give state lawmakers credit for acting quickly on these killings to possibly avert the next mass shooting by banning the sale or possession of semi-automatic weapons to those under 21 (the Buffalo Killers and of Uvalde were both 18 years old), requiring state and local law enforcement agencies to share information about crimes committed with firearms with federal databases, expanding the ability of officials filing extreme risk protection orders to keep guns out of the reach of potential mass murderers and establishing social media policies to respond to threats made by online shooters.
The only part of this package that we question is the invoice (A10497/S9407B) which prohibits the sale or possession of body armor to anyone not working in a specific profession such as law enforcement, corrections, private security, or emergency services.
The text of the bill specifically notes that the Buffalo killer wore such protection, helping protect him from an early encounter with the store’s security guard.
Preventing killers from getting their weapons of mass murder and identifying them before they can go on a spree is one thing. But depriving ordinary citizens of basic defensive protection is quite another.
The text of the bill says that “Other than these professionals, no one else has a legitimate reason to buy or possess a body armor”. It is simply not true.
Wouldn’t a school teacher have a legitimate reason to buy or own a bulletproof vest?
Or the people who sit at the entrances to schools and businesses?
What about a bouncer in a bar or a doorman in a hotel, a taxi driver or a carpool driver or a bus driver or an airline pilot? Aren’t they the subject of armed robberies and hijacking attempts? What about employees who are not posted at the front door, such as bank tellers, cashiers or store managers?
What about a victim of domestic violence who is afraid of a violent spouse or ex-boyfriend?
Or how about the ordinary citizen who just wants to feel safe walking down the street?
Another problem this bill raises is that it fuels the narrative of those who strictly oppose all gun control measures that, once given the opportunity, gun advocates will not back down nothing to suppress everyone’s ability to protect themselves, making us all sitting ducks for mass murderers.
The governor signed the bill into law Monday, but it doesn’t go into effect for 60 days. She should use that time to reconsider or change that particular law.
People of sound mind and good character with no history of violence or threatening behavior should be able to register and purchase body armor.
Preventing another mass shooting is one thing. Preventing people from passively protecting themselves from harm is another.
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Categories: Editorial, Opinion