Bob Owens at Bearing Arms talks about a new piece of Democrat legislation which, rather than trying to ban various types of weapons, seeks to restrict civilians from using certain classes of body armor.

These anti-gun Democrats keep failing to stop us from having guns… and so they seem intent on making sure that we cannot defend ourselves against theirs.

HR 5344, the laughably titled “Responsible Body Armor Possession Act,” is nothing more or less than attempt ban Level III and higher body armor that can defeat most common rifle ammunition, such as the steel plate armor sold by AR500 Armor* and other vendors…

This is nothing more or less than an attempt by another petty tyrant (Rep. Mike Honda, of California) to strip rights away from the citizenry in order to give the government more power and control.

Honda is California’s congressman from the 7th District, and his new legislation is Voxsplained in a rather curious fashion. He probably doesn’t want the police to be very “militarized” either, but he darned sure doesn’t want you to be.

Honda, speaking at a news conference in San Jose Wednesday morning with police chiefs and the district attorneys and sheriffs from Santa Clara and Alameda counties, said his proposal would discourage criminals from wearing enhanced body armor to commit mass shootings.

“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.”

Just to clarify, the legislation would not prohibit the more common, flexible body armor you see most often, but rather level III and above. There’s a pretty good breakdown of the various classes of body armor here. Level II armor is the normal standard which protects against rounds from handguns up to the .357 magnum. Level IIIa soft body armor is the same, but will also purportedly stop a .44 magnum or an Uzi. Level III – which this legislation would cover – is “hard” armor, designed to stop standard rifle rounds. (Level IV is supposed to protect against armor piercing rounds.)

This entire argument is pretty much the opposite of the usual Second Amendment fight. Rather than the right to keep and bear arms, it’s involves your ability to protect yourself against an armed enemy. Honda’s legislation leads to two rather obvious questions.

First, the only case in which one could argue that society benefits from this sort of restriction is when the body armor is being employed by a heavily armed criminal who is determined to fight the authorities. Fair enough. But this leaves open the same argument which comes up so often over gun control legislation: the people it seeks to target are precisely the sorts who don’t give a lot of thought to breaking lesser laws while cooking up their plans for breaking much more severe ones such as murder or robbery. In the end, the only people you wind up restricting are the ones who tend to obey laws and aren’t likely to be out there shooting up some cop’s patrol car.

The second, broader question has to do with whether or not the government can ban defensive – as opposed to offensive – equipment in the first place. Even if you happen to support gun rights restrictions, the vast majority of your argument is surely based on the concept that guns are dangerous to others. You’d be hard pressed to injure anyone else with a protective vest unless they were willing to stand still while you beat them over the head with it. Armor which keeps you safe from projectile weapons seems like it should be a no-brainer in terms of reasonable expectations among civilians. It would be interesting to see this one challenged in the courts, assuming Honda can even get it to a vote.