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Is It Legal to Wear Bulletproof Vests


Are you a security guard? Or you are residing in an area where there is alarmingly high level of crime? Or your work demands that you stay outside until late at night? Or you are a jewelry store owner who always carries valuable merchandise? Or you are a major witness in a crime case? Or you are a journalist taking down happenings in a war-torn or crisis-infested region? Or you have just received a death threat from someone you don’t know? The list could go on…..

But if you fall under any of the mentioned categories, then chances are that you need to protect yourself all the time; and wearing bullet proof vests is one of the few options you have. Before we go any further, let me tell you some things you may or may not have known about these protection kits.

Facts about Bulletproof Vests and Clothes

Bulletproof vests are also known as bullet-resistant vests or ballistic vests. They are worn on the torso for protection against the impact from bullets and small explosives. Now how does a bulletproof vest protect the wearer? It simply uses its layers of strong fiber to stop and deform an oncoming bullet, compressing it into a dish shape, and weakening it by spreading out its force over a larger portion of the vest fiber.

Bulletproof vests are of different grades, depending on the material from which they are made and on their thickness. But all of that is beyond the scope of this post, which only discusses the legality of wearing bulletproof vests.

Now, let’s look into the real issue, as suggested by the topic of this post: Is it legal to wear bulletproof vests? Well, as for military personnel, they have an unrestricted permission to wear bulletproof vests in virtually all parts of the world.  But if you are only a curious a civilian, keep in mind that there is no blanket answer to the question because it all depends on the laws in your state or country. So in this article, we will be looking at the various legal rulings on the use of bulletproof vests in different parts of the world.

Is It Legal to Wear Bulletproof Vests

  • United States

In the US, violent convicts are not legally permitted to wear bulletproof vests. In fact, they are not even permitted to have it in their possession. While it’s legally permitted to wear a bulletproof vest in states like Kentucky, someone convicted of committing a violent crime or carrying a deadly weapon is denied probation or parole. In some other states in the US like Tennessee, wearing a bulletproof vest while committing certain crimes is not permitted.

  • Canada

In Canada, it is legal to wear bulletproof vests in all provinces except for Manitoba, British Columbia, and Alberta. In British Columbia however, you must obtain a government-issued license to use it, as stated by the province’s Armor Control Act. Sometime in the past, a bill was passed in the House of Commons, proposing to make it an offense for anyone to wear a bulletproof vest while attempting to commit an indictable offense. This bill never became law, as it died on the order paper after its first reading.

  • Italy

In Italy, there are no restrictions on possessing and wearing bulletproof vests and other body armors. However, ballistic protections that are specially made for military personnel are legally forbidden to civilians. In fact, some laws and court verdicts in Italy have made it mandatory for those working in the private security sector to wear bulletproof vests while on duty.

  • The European Union

Shipping bulletproof vests to Europe and selling them is allowed in most places, except for those considered by the law as “armament materials”, which are forbidden to civilians. Many shops in Europe openly sell bulletproof vests – used and new. But most shops won’t sell to those who have past records of crime.

Can YOU wear a bulletproof vest?

From what has been stated earlier, it depends on your location and some other factors like your motive for wearing the vest, whether or not you are a military officer, and whether or not you have once been convicted of a violent crime.

Provided you are neither a military officer nor an ex-convict, your location remains the only bone of contention. If you are in any of the countries discussed in this post, you’d have already gotten an idea – but you still need to carry out more findings. But if you are in some other location not mentioned in this post, you need to find out the legal rulings regarding the purchase, possession and use of bulletproof vests in your state or country.

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