California is already notorious for its strict regulations on firearms, but now one public servant in the golden state wants to take that prohibition-happy mindset in a new direction by banning body armor.
The bill, H.R. 5344, the Responsible Body Armor Possession Act of 2014, comes from Rep. Michae Honda, a San Jose Democrat, and it would "prohibit the purchase, ownership, or possession of enhanced body armor by civilians, with exceptions." That is to say, Honda wants to treat innocent civilians like convicted felons.
Honda announced the legislation last week at a press conference with various law enforcement officials in his district who have endorsed the propsal. From NBC:
"This bill will keep military body armor out of the wrong hands," Honda said. "It would ensure that only law enforcement, firefighters and other first responders would be able to access enhanced body armor."
"We're not talking about just a standard bullet-proof vest," he said. "We're talking about body armor that is designed for warfare, designed to protect against law enforcement ammunitions." …
"There's nothing more dangerous than an unstoppable, well-armored shooter," he said. "The law enforcement community sees an increase in use of body armor in violent, gun-related crimes."
The congressman cited a shooting on July 22 in Riverside County, where a man wearing body armor and armed with an assault rifle shot and killed two sheriff's deputies and wounded another.
"We should be asking ourselves, why is this armor available to just anyone, if it was designed to be used only by our soldiers to take to war?" Honda said.
Of course, Honda is overlooking a lot of other scenarios, and outright ignoring the possibility that law-abiding citizens would have any reason to wear protective garments, whether they're in danger from armed criminals or a no-knock police raid gone awry. The San Jose Police Department's ethics are questionable already: One of its former chiefs has been sounding the alarm for years about the dangers of police militarization, meawhile the department has been pushing for greater surveillance capabilities and was just caught lying about owning a camera-equipped drone. Even if the force were squeaky clean, its snipers, air support, and camo-covered SWAT team, cannot and should not be expected to be there to protect every endangered individual.