Is It Legal to Wear Body Armor in Public?

    Tactical gear can be a tricky topic to discuss in today’s day and age. Different people have different opinions on what should be allowed to take outside in public.

    It is not news that it is highly controversial to carry a gun around in public. Different states have different laws to carry guns and arms. But recently, a lot of traction has been gathered with the increased use of bulletproof vests, even submerging into celebrity culture.

    Although it is common to discuss guns and arms and their legality, what does the law say about owning and wearing body armor?

    What Is Body Armor?

    Since the beginning of warfare, body armor has been a soldier’s best friend. The design has come a long way since then. It has been expertly modified to accommodate the technological advancement in weaponry. However, its purpose has remained the same; it is primarily used to guard the wearer against as much damage as possible. It offers protection for the wearer from physical attacks, blows, and blunt forces by absorbing them.

    There are varying levels of body armor, corresponding with the levels of impacts the body armor can withstand. The body armors differ in areal density and thickness. The areal density can range up to 32.5kg/m, and the thickness can vary up to 20mm. The most protected and safe body armor is known as NIJ Level IV, which has a 0.30 armor piercing to ensure maximum protection.

    If you wish to understand this better, head over to Legionary, which sells survival gear and ammunition in the US and hosts various blogs that describe body armors in detail to interested folks. The National Institute of Justice certifies body armor by the number of shots it can take and protect the wearer. It should withstand six shots on a plate with the related level of ammunition.

    It is essential to know that the process of having body armor certified by the NIJ is very expensive and extensive. It can cost around $40,000 to have the body armor certified. As a result, a lot of products may not be registered by the NIJ.

    What is a Bulletproof Vest?

    Over time, the needs and demands for tactical gear have changed. The regular body armor was deemed too bulky to carry to war. Moreover, it was important to create a bulletproof vest with the prevalence of guns and other weaponry.

    It may come off as a shock to some people, but bulletproof vests are made from threads and not hard metals. The threads used are extremely long-lasting and are consistently interlocked so that it breaks down the bullet and spread its energy throughout to minimize its impact.

    Can You Buy and Wear Body Armor in Public?

    Now that we know the difference between the two main types of protections commonly used let’s look at the legal implications of owning and wearing them. It is mostly legal for an adult to purchase body armor and use it by wearing it; however, in the United States, some states are stricter than others.


    If you’re convicted of a violent felony, you are not allowed to purchase or wear it in most states. Some states forbid you to wear body armor depending upon the crime you have committed in the past. For example, in the case of Maryland, you have to apply for a permit to purchase and own body armor if you have been charged guilty of a violent crime or have been involved in drug trafficking.


    On the other hand, New Jersey is very definitive about civilians’ use and misuse of body armor. If you have been involved in murder, robbery, sexual assault, manslaughter, burglary, kidnapping, or assault, you are not permitted to own or wear body armor.

    Where Can I Wear My Body Armor?

    If you satisfy the above conditions, you still need to know where you can wear ballistic protection. Generally, most states do not have specific no-go zones for body armors, except schools. For example, in Louisiana, people cannot wear body armor except if they are working in a job where they are compelled to do so. Students, however, can request authority in the school system to request permission to wear a protective vest.

    Situations Best for Wearing Body Armor

    The law looks at the situation in which you wear body armor to decide whether it has punishable criminal intent. For example, it is perfectly legal to wear body armor for self-defense purposes. People may wear them if they are visiting an unsafe part of the town with high criminal activity. On the other hand, it is a punishable offense if you wear body armor and then commit or attempt to commit a crime.


    All in all, it can be said that if you have to wear body armor, make sure that you know what you’re purchasing and what kind of protection it can guarantee. Moreover, you should be aware of in which circumstances and situations you can wear and purchase body armor. Do not forget to research the separate laws and rules according to your state.

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