Is it illegal to wear a bulletproof vest

Is it Illegal to Wear a Bulletproof Vest?

A U.S. LawShield member was arrested for the possession of body armor. Ultimately, the member was released from custody and no charges were filed. One question we’ve received is: is it illegal to wear a bulletproof vest? If you’re not a convicted felon, the answer is yes.

Is Body Armor Legal: Federal law

Body armor is discussed in one place in the United States Code: 18 U.S.C. § 931. Section 931 contains only one prohibition on the purchase, ownership, or possession of body armor. The law states that anyone who has been convicted of a violent felony (or its state equivalent) cannot purchase, own, or possess body armor. The law then carves out an exception:

  1. If the defendant has written certification that it is necessary for the safe performance of lawful business activity and
  2. The use and possession of the defendant are limited to the business activity

This means that if you are not a felon convicted of a violent crime (or if you are but fit into the exception), it is legal under the federal law to purchase, own, and possess body armor.

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Can You Buy a Bulletproof Vest: State law

What does Texas law say about body armor? Essentially, the same thing as federal law.

The purchase, ownership, and possession of body armor generally is legal in Texas. However, Texas Penal Code § 46.041 prohibits the possession of body armor by anyone convicted of a felony (violent or non-violent).

To recap, if you’re a convicted felon, it’s illegal under state law to possess body armor. If you were convicted of a violent felony, it’s illegal to purchase, own, or possess body armor under federal law. If none of the above apply to you, then you are within your rights to possess whatever body armor you so choose.

Why then did our member get arrested? Because the officer didn’t know what you just read! At the end of the day our legal system is set up such that you go to jail for your ignorance of the law, and you go to jail for the officer’s ignorance of the law. As you can see, it’s very hard to stay out of jail.

If you ever have any questions regarding the legality of any weapon or armor, you can contact your independent program attorney for more information. But, what do we know? We're just "practicing." Arm yourself with knowledge!


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The information provided in this publication is intended to provide general information to individuals and is not legal advice. The information included in this publication may not be quoted or referred to in any other publication without the prior written consent of U.S. LawShield, to be given or withheld at our discretion. The information is not a substitute for, and does not replace the advice or representation of a licensed attorney. We strive to ensure the information included in this publication is accurate and current, however, no claim is made to the accuracy of the information and we are not responsible for any consequences that may result from the use of information in this publication. The use of this publication does not create an attorney-client relationship between U.S. LawShield, any independent program attorney, and any individual.