The views and opinions expressed below are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Libertarian Party of New York.
By Pietro S. Geraci, Chair, Orange County Libertarian Party
I demand Assemblyman Jonathan Jacobson withdraw his bill, A352, which seeks to ban body armor and make possession of body armor a felony. This bill would turn innocent residents into criminals and disproportionately harm marginalized peoples.
This bill is completely unnecessary. No harm is done to any individual or any property through the mere act of owning a body vest. There is no victim when someone wears one, so why make it illegal?
Assemblyman Jacobson is trying to create another victimless crime, for which innocent people will be branded as felons and be carted off to prison. Is sending people to rot in a cage for wearing protective gear really a progressive ideal?
This bill is shockingly tone-deaf. District 104 encompasses a diverse population, including people of marginalized identities. Unfortunately, the present socioeconomic conditions of this country put people of color, LGBTQ people, immigrants, Muslims, autistic people, the disabled, and other marginalized peoples, as well as women, at an increased risk of encountering violence, and thus they have a greater need to have any and all tools at their disposal, including body vests, to help defend themselves. This bill would take away a very useful tool for self-defense and make already vulnerable peoples more susceptible to violence perpetrated against them, including violence perpetrated by the state.
A352 exempts police officers from this ban. Why should cops, whose heinous acts of domestic terrorism grabbed the headlines and sparked massive protests throughout the previous year, get to wear protective gear, while ordinary citizens are jailed for the same action? Since when are cops better than anyone else? In this country everyone is supposed to be afforded equal treatment before the law. Either everyone gets to have access to body armor or nobody does.
It’s also worth noting that should this bill become law, it will be more heavily enforced against people of color, just like gun control and drug laws. They will be at greater risk of arrest and will receive harsher sentences. I don’t think that’s the future of New York State progressives envisioned.
People have the right to defend themselves. Wearing a body vest is a harmless way to do so. Turning ordinary people into criminals is tyrannical. Bill A352 would do just that.
Assemblyman Jacobson, let the people protect themselves with body armor. Withdraw this bill at once!
Originally published in the Hudson Valley Times, January 14, 2021