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Is It Legal to Wear Body Armor in Public? – Body Armor Laws

Written by Everett Bledsoe / Fact checked by Brain Bartell

is it legal to wear body armor in public

Gun violence, unfortunately, is prevalent in the United States. Thus, it is understandable if you want to protect yourself by wearing body armor or a bulletproof vest when you go out. With that said, you will want to know the answer to, “Is it legal to wear body armor in public?” In general, all states allow the wearing of body armor in public. However, there are specific rules on buying and selling these gear. Continue reading to find out more.

Can You Wear a Bulletproof Vest in Public

Yes you can. There are no laws prohibiting this. However, there are laws on whether you can buy and sell them. The next section will tackle the details of this.

Body Armor Laws – Basics


1. Who is allowed to buy body armor?

There are three criteria that you have to meet to be able to buy and wear body armor:

  • You must be a U.S citizen
  • You must be 18 years old or older
  • You must have not been convicted of a crime of violence

2. Where can you buy body armor?

You can buy body armor through face-to-face transactions in all U.S states. You do need to have a background check or present your ID or special permits to purchase body armor. Body armor can be shipped, but only in 49 states. You cannot ship body armor to Connecticut. If you want to own body armor in this state, you will need to get it through a face-to-face transaction.

Usually, you can find body armor in offline/online stores, and gun shows. They can be featured on websites and in catalogs. It is also legal for you to order them through the phone.

3. Where are you NOT allowed to buy or sell body armor?

It is not legal to take, send, ship, or bring this gear outside of the U.S if you do not have federal permission. And as said earlier, you cannot send or ship it to Connecticut.

Which States Have Added Body Armor Laws


State-Specific Laws Regarding Body Armor


You cannot wear body armor when you are committing a crime. It is legal to do so by the state’s body armor laws.


If you have body armor and are convicted of battery, assault, aggravated robbery, manslaughter, or murder, it will be a Class A misdemeanor.


What states is body armor illegal to ship to? As said twice above, you cannot ship body armor to Connecticut. So, If you sell or deliver to the state’s resident without meeting him or her directly to finish the sale or delivery, it will be a Class B misdemeanor. For this, you can be imprisoned for 6 months or would have to pay a $1,000 fine, or both. The only exemptions are

  • Members that have been sworn or authorized individuals in the state’s board of parole or pardons, police, and Division of Criminal Justice.
  • Authorized individuals of municipalities that provide for the Department of Administrative Services or are a part of the Department themselves.
  • Members of the Armed Forces.
  • Authorized individuals, in the Judicial Branch, buying body armor for probation officers.


Like Arizona, it is illegal to wear body armor when you are perpetrating a crime.


It is also prohibited to wear body armor when you are executing or taking part in a crime.


You cannot wear body armor when you are conducting violent crimes or trafficking drugs.


Like a few of the states mentioned earlier, body armor is not allowed when you are committing a crime.


You are not allowed to put on body armor if you carry dangerous weapons (aside from firearms) and attempt to commission or commission offenses. If you do violate this, it is a Class A misdemeanor.


Before it was a Class D felony, but now, it is a Level 6 felony if you deliberately wear body armor when you are performing a felony.


You cannot wear or bring bulletproof vests along with you in Topeka City, Kansas if you are in a parade, demonstration, rally, protest, or assembly. 


You are not permitted to use body armor when you are on school grounds or a campus property. You also cannot wear body armor when you are committing a crime.


If you have been convicted for a crime of violence or drug trafficking then you will have to get a permit issued by the Secretary of Maryland state police to buy, own, carry, and use body armor. This can be done by filing a petition.


Like several other states, body armor is not permitted when you are committing a crime.

New Hampshire

It is a Class B felony in New Hampshire if you wear or use body armor when you are committing a felony.

New Jersey

It is a separate crime if you wear body armor while you commit a criminal act. Punishments can include serving time or paying fines, or both.

New York

It is a Class E felony if you use body armor when you carry a shotgun, firearm, or rifle while you are committing a violent crime.

North Carolina

While committing a crime, you are not permitted to use body armor.


It is a Class E felony if you use body armor when you are executing a crime.


If you are carrying a firearm or knife and are committing a violent crime, then you cannot wear body armor. You will be deemed guilty of a Class 4 felony if you do.

West Virginia

If you are executing a felony that is violent in nature or has an element of force, then you cannot wear body armor. Here, the ‘element of force’ refers to causing physical harm, using deadly weapons such as firearms, and threatening with force.


You will get a felony conviction and extra time added to your sentence if you are sporting body armor when you execute a crime.

Which States Do Not Have Added Body Armor Laws

That being said, there are no extra rules to body armor laws for these 28 states:

  • Alabama
  • Alaska
  • California
  • Colorado
  • Idaho
  • Iowa
  • Kentucky
  • Maine
  • Michigan
  • Minnesota
  • Mississippi
  • Missouri
  • Montana
  • Nebraska
  • Nevada
  • New Mexico
  • North Dakota
  • Ohio
  • Oregon
  • Pennsylvania
  • Rhode Island
  • South Dakota
  • Texas,
  • Utah
  • Vermont
  • Wyoming
  • Washington D.C
  • Washington State

When Can You Ship Body Armor Internationally

Body armor and ballistic items are classified by the United States National Institute of Justice (NIJ) based on criteria. This classification system indicates the amount of protection an item can provide to the wearer.

Body armor and ballistic items with lower NIJ ratings (aka. in level II, level II-A, and level III-A) can get export license exemption in a few countries. As such, it can be shipped to these places.

If you want to send body armor to a person in a different country as a U.S citizen, you will need to tick all the following criteria:

  • You are a U.S citizen
  • You hold a permanent resident status
  • You are not working for a foreign government or international company
  • You are a political asylee
  • You are a U.S government officer
  • You are a representative of an entity in the U.S and follow U.S laws

And you must turn in an authorization request. The recipient of the request is the Department of State.

If you have a foreigner status and want to export body armor or ballistic items, you need to turn in an export authorization and get approval. For this, there are several forms, as follows:

  • Foreign Military Sales – The U.S government deals directly with a foreign government to sell military items (like body army,…). This is abbreviated as FMS.
  • Manufacturing License Agreement – Enables a U.S manufacturer to offer information on military items to foreigners. This is abbreviated as MLA.
  • Technical Assistance Agreement – Qualifies a provider of an American registered service to supply to a foreigner. Examples are training and technical support. This is abbreviated as TAA.
  • Warehouse & Distribution Agreement – Permit a system to be put up abroad to organize the export of items from the U.S.

If you are just looking for body armor for yourself and do not want to deal with the complicated paperwork, purchase from these big international vendors:

  • Protection Group Denmark: A Danish brand that has been selling bulletproof items since 2013.
  • BulletBlocker: A company that caters to kids. You can get armor suits, vests, and jackets.
  • Blade Runner: As implied in the name, this company specializes in armor against knives.
  • LBX Tactical: This company offers body armor and products with lifetime warranties.
  • PPSS Group: You can get anti-slash vests and jackets here.
  • Safeguard Armor: This brand specializes in bulletproof products, including vests.


Now that you have reached the end of this article, you should be able to answer, “Is it legal to wear body armor in public?” But other than that, armed with information (pun intended!), you can address other questions like “Are bulletproof vests illegal” and “Are bulletproof vests legal?” Hopefully, you have picked up everything you need here. If you have any questions or thoughts, reach out to us in the comments!

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