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Federal lawsuit filed in WNY claims NY’s body armor ban is unconstitutional

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — Local attorney John Elmore said it would be unjust and dangerous to reverse New York’s ban on body armor, but that’s the goal of a federal lawsuit filed in Western New York.

The lawsuit, filed by the Firearms Policy Coalition and a resident from Lakeview, claims the ban is unconstitutional under the Second Amendment. It also said the state’s ban infringes on the rights of law-abiding citizens from protecting themselves and their families.

Two years ago, following the Tops mass shooting and other mass shootings across the country, the state enacted new restrictions on the purchase, sale and transfer of bulletproof vests. The restrictions include banning the use of body armor except for police, the military and other eligible professions. 

“If the shooter at Tops not had the body armor, he wouldn’t have killed as many people,” said Elmore, who represents several families of victims of the Tops mass shooting.

The lawsuit said that the state doesn’t have the right to pick and choose who should be allowed to have body armor. 

Elmore, a former state trooper, said the law should not be weakened. 

“Body armor is something that should only be worn by military personnel, people working security or people that are in law enforcement,” he said.

Elmore said he does not think this legal challenge will have any effect on the lawsuit that was filed against various defendants in the wake of the Tops mass shooting, including a body armor manufacturer. 

“I think that lawsuit is going to fail,” he said. “I don’t believe that the right to bear arms goes with the right to wear body armor.”

The defendants named in the lawsuit are Erie County’s Acting District Attorney, New York’s Attorney General and the Superintendent of the State Police. 

A hearing on the lawsuit has not been set.

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Jeff Preval is an award-winning anchor and reporter who joined the News 4 team in December 2021. See more of his work here.

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