Buffalo Democrat targets online bulletproof vest sales after supermarket massacre (New York Post)

Zach WIlliams - New York Post

May 26, 2022

Originally published in New York Post on May 26, 2022.

A Buffalo legislator introduced a bill this week seeking to curb access to bullet-proof vests like the one donned by a teenage white supremacist who allegedly killed 10 people in the pol’s hometown. 

State Sen. Sean Ryan (D-Buffalo)’s proposal would effectively bar online sales of such gear by requiring a seller to physically deliver vests to customers. 

“It’s alleged that the shooter in Buffalo was able to covertly buy body armor, hid it from his parents, hid it from members of the community by just getting it delivered to his house and nobody was able to know what he was up to,” Ryan told the Post Thursday.

Blocking Internet sales could make it more difficult for future gunmen to acquire body armor by making them venture to the relatively few shops that sell such gear in the Empire State compared to online, Ryan argues.

Ryan hopes to get an Assembly sponsor for the bill for the proposal to be included in a broader legislative package on guns that Albany Democrats are aiming to pass this upcoming week. 

“I’ve had several calls today from numerous Assembly members looking to co-sponsor … So I think there’s going to be a good appetite in the Assembly and in the Senate,” he added. 

State law allows New Yorkers to buy bulletproof vests, but wearing one while committing a gun crime can land violators in prison for up to five years. 

Sales of such tactical gear have increased in recent years amid rising violent crime, civil unrest and the ongoing war in Ukraine. 

“We can’t get our regular in-store inventory so easily so it’s kind of created a bit of a backlog,” Brad Pedell, co-owner of 221B Tactical in Midtown, told the Post. 

Pedell added that an effective ban on online sales of bulletproof vests would hurt the bottom line of his business, which sells an array of tactical gear.

He also questioned whether the bill, if is passes before state lawmakers adjourn for the year on June 2, would really deter criminals beyond being an inconvenience for law-abiding citizens.

“A fraction of people who are buying body armor are buying it for the sake of committing a felonious, heinous crime and protecting themselves while they’re in the process of doing that as compared with people who are just scared,” Pedell said.

Ryan, who represents a district near the site of the recent racist-fueled massacre at a Buffalo supermarket, responded to such criticism by saying a ban on online sales would at least reduce access for would-be mass killers to some degree, potentially saving lives in the process.

“If your business is to sell body armor worn by mass shooters to defy and evade law enforcement then you are in the wrong line of work. And there is no one solution to gun violence and to the scourges of mass shootings so we need to find many ways to save lives by chipping away at the problem and one part of the problem is the proliferation of body armor sales to civilians,” Ryan added.