A bill introduced in Congress by Rep. Mike Honda (D-CA) would prohibit the sale, purchase, use, or possession of military grade body armor illegal. H.R.378, called the Responsible Body Armor Possession Act would limit possession and use of body armor to military and law enforcement personnel with violations of the act punishable by fines and up to 10 years imprisonment.
“There is no reason this type of armor, which is designed for warfare, should be available in our communities except for those who need it, like law enforcement,” Congressman Honda said. “There’s nothing more dangerous than what a well-armored, unstoppable active shooter can do. This bill is common-sense and long overdue.”
Not everyone agrees with the Congressman.
Chuck Holton is a former Army Ranger, combat veteran, author, photographer, and video journalist who specializes in reporting from active war zones. As a freelance cameraman for Fox News he travels extensively with Lt. Col. Oliver North, and hosts Life of Duty Frontlines. For Chuck, military grade body armor is an absolute necessity.
“I travel to war zones around the world every year,” he said. “My helmet and body armor bear the scars of shrapnel.”
“You cannot do an embed with the troops without body armor,” he told me. “In Afghanistan in 2008 we were hit by IEDs three times in three weeks. When I flew into Kosovo in 2012 we couldn’t get off the plane without body armor”.
The bill would grandfather the body armor he already owns, but that doesn’t solve the problem.
Although criminals have used body armor in the past, it is not easily obtained by civilians. “It’s expensive and hard to get,” Chuck said. “The industry is self-policing. When you use a reputable dealer they will question you on why you want to buy it and unless you have a valid reason they won’t sell it to you. There have been times that I had to go somewhere else to get mine.”
Chuck also sees a much bigger issue with this bill.
“This bill was only intended for show,” he contends, “there is no chance this Congress will pass it. This is about someone with the mindset that ‘As a Congressman, it’s my job to protect American citizens whether you want the protection or not’. No one has a right to tell you that you can’t defend yourself. There is more to being a free man than being perfectly safe. What I want my Congressman to do is work as hard as he can to get out of my way and stay out of my way.”
“I recently interviewed Rep. Joe Hack who represents Las Vegas. When he found out I was originally from Nevada, he asked what I would have him do as a Congressman. I told him I would want him to reduce government regulations, don’t protect me, and just leave me alone. In a free country government doesn’t fix everything that’s wrong, people do. There was a time when we had parallel structures like churches and community organizations that took care of those things.”
Journalists are not alone in civilian use of body armor. Defense contractors, private security professionals, bodyguards, and many others often find it necessary to wear the kind of protective gear banned by this bill. The Congressman says he wants to make it illegal for criminals to have body armor, the same criminals that are using illegally obtained guns, trafficking in illegal drugs, and committing acts of violence that are already illegal. Does he really believe making body armor illegal will make them not use it? The only thing he will accomplish will be to put the lives of law abiding citizens like Chuck in more danger than they already face.
Rep. Honda was wrong when he said “There’s nothing more dangerous than what a well-armored, unstoppable active shooter can do”; an all-powerful unstoppable government is much more dangerous.