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Body Armor Laws: A State By State Guide

Is Body Armor Legal? A State-by-State Guide to U.S. Body Armor Laws

The legality of purchasing and owning body armor varies across the United States, with most states allowing adult civilians to buy and own body armor unless they have been convicted of a felony. However, there are specific nuances and additional regulations in certain states that are important to understand.

Federal Regulations on Body Armor

Federally, it's legal for civilians to purchase and wear body armor if they have no criminal record. However, under 18 U.S.C.A. Section 931, individuals convicted of violent felonies are prohibited from owning body armor. Using body armor in a federal crime results in enhanced penalties​.

State-Specific Body Armor Laws

Alabama, Alaska

No extra restrictions beyond federal laws​.


Restricts body armor use during criminal activities​.


Prohibits body armor for individuals convicted of certain serious crimes.


Aligns with federal standards for body armor acquisition and use.


Similar to federal laws; felons are restricted from body armor use.


Requires face-to-face transactions for body armor sales​. Applicable professions such as military, law enforcement, and first responders are eligible for online purchase.

State of Connecticut Body Armor Law


Criminalizes body armor use during the commission of a crime​.


Similar to federal laws, with additional restrictions on use during criminal acts​.


Prohibits body armor use while trafficking drugs or committing violent crimes​.


Adheres to federal laws, barring use during criminal activities​.


Federal laws apply, barring use in criminal endeavors​.


Allows purchase and use, barring felons and illegal use during criminal activities​.


Permits body armor except for felons; illegal use during a felony is a serious offense​.


Federal laws apply; body armor available online and in-person​.


Restricts body armor use during specific public gatherings in Topeka​.


Federal guidelines apply; online and face-to-face transactions allowed​.


Allows body armor, barring use on school premises and during crimes​.


Adheres to federal regulations without additional restrictions​.


Requires a permit for individuals with violent or drug trafficking history​.


Federal laws apply; criminalizes use during criminal endeavors​.


Similar to federal laws; various transaction methods available​.


Follows federal guidelines; transactions online and offline​.


Federal regulations apply; available online and offline​.


Strict adherence to federal directives; online transactions allowed​.


Federal laws apply; online purchases available​.


Abides by federal regulations; online and direct transactions​.


Federal guidelines apply; sales facilitated online and offline​.

New Hampshire

Federal laws apply; committing felonies with body armor is a Class B felony​.

New Jersey

Similar framework as most states; additional criminal charges for crimes committed while wearing body armor​.

New Mexico

Regulations align with federal laws; online and in-person purchases​.

New York

Restrictions on public purchase, sale, or delivery of "bullet-resistant soft body armor"​. Professions eligible for purchase are police officers, peace officers, military servicemen, and other professions designated by the Department of State in accordance with section 144-a of the Executive Law.

State of New York Body Armor Law

North Carolina

Federal laws apply; criminalizes wearing body armor during criminal activities​.

North Dakota

Adheres to federal regulations; online and in-person purchases​.


Federal laws apply; online and face-to-face purchases​.


Allows purchase and use, barring felons; criminalizes use during felonies​.


Maintains adherence to federal laws; online and in-person purchases​.


Rules coincide with federal laws; online and face-to-face purchases​.

Rhode Island

Allows purchase and use, except for individuals with violent felony convictions​.

South Carolina

Adults, except those with violent felony records, can purchase and use body armor​.

South Dakota

Matches federal laws; online and in-person purchases​.


Allows purchase and use, barring violent felons; criminalizes use during crimes​.


Follows federal regulations; in-person and online purchases​.


No additional rules; online and in-person sales​.


In line with federal rules; online and face-to-face purchases​.


Allows purchase and use, except for felons; criminalizes possession during violent felonies​.

Washington State

Regulations align with federal laws; online and in-person purchases​.

West Virginia

Permits adults to buy and use, except felons; criminalizes wearing during violent felonies​.


Allows purchase and use by non-felons; criminalizes use during felonies​.


In line with federal laws; online and in-person purchases​.

Washington D.C.

Federal laws apply; online and in-person purchases​.

Restrictions on Online Sales and Shipping

Online sales are generally allowed, but Connecticut and New York have restrictions. Connecticut bans online sales to the public, and New York limits it to certain professions. Shipping outside the U.S. requires federal permission, and minors need written permission from local police to own body armor​.

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