WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — New York Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer says he wants to pass a law regulating advanced gear for civilians, which could make it harder to buy body armor in the future.
Specifically, Schumer’s bill instructs the FBI to regulate body armor sales restricting them from people without an occupational purpose.
The senator argues that too often, those with evil intent are buying body armor and that body armor has become part of a “checklist” for copycat killers.
Schumer believes his plan will help the government track those people down. But the idea is already facing backlash, proving it may be a hard sell on Capitol Hill.
The gunman in the Dayton, Ohio shooting in which nine people were killed was wearing body armor. Days later, a man caused panic at a Missouri Walmart when he walked in wearing a bulletproof vest, carrying a rifle.
Schumer’s regulation plan is sparking outrage from gun advocates like Nick Groat with Safe Life Defense, who sells body armor online.
“If we ban body armor because of these few psychopaths, that means that we let them win,” Groat said.
And Richard Pearson, the president of the Illinois State Rifle Association, calls the plan unconstitutional.
“More of a press release than a practical idea,” he said. “I don’t think this will stop crime in any way.”
Schumer says he’s targeting what he calls sophisticated or high-grade body armor because it’s too easy for those with evil intent to buy it. The plan would not impact bulletproof backpacks, which have become popular with parents.
Michigan Democrat and gun control advocate Rep. Debbie Dingell says that right now, the regulation isn’t at the top of her to-do list.
“I think we need to do more; specifically, about how do we keep guns out of the hands who don’t need to have them?” she said.
Christian Heyne with gun control group the Brady Campaign agrees but says they’re open.
“We’re not stopping the conversation anywhere right now because we know it’s multifaceted,” Heyne said.
Federal law already prohibits convicted felons from buying body armor.
Schumer says he plans to file his civilian body armor bill when Congress returns from recess in September.
So far, the National Sheriff’s Association is declining to comment. But a spokesperson with the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association called the plan rational to protect law enforcement and says they will review the policy.