Monday, July 23, 2012

There Is No 2nd Amendment for Body Armor

[Holmes] wore a ballistic helmet, a ballistic vest, ballistic leggings, a throat protector, a groin protector, and tactical gloves. He was so well equipped that if anyone in that theater had tried what the National Rifle Association recommends—drawing a firearm to stop the carnage—that person would have been dead meat. Holmes didn’t just kill a dozen people. He killed the NRA’s answer to gun violence.


So will the political left and the political right now come together to ban the public acquisition of ballistic vests, helmets, face shields, leggings, etc.?

One can argue as to whether there is a right to an AR-15, and whether there is a public use for an AR-15, but clearly, the only purpose of a citizen owning a ballistic vest, leggings, and face shield is to make it easy to do public mayhem with impunity. As Slate notes:

Essentially, Holmes has called the NRA’s bluff. It may be true that the best way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun. But the best way to stop a good guy with a gun is a bad guy with body armor. And judging from Holmes' vest receipt, he wasn't even buying the serious stuff.
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Karen said...

Call me stupid, but for years I thought that it was illegal for the public to acquire body armour. A police officer set me straight a few years ago on that one. Because really, *why* does a regular person need body armour unless they are going to do something illegal?

Chas S. Clifton said...

It was not body armor, it was one of those "tactical" gear-carrying vests, I have read.

You are familiar with the term "ballistic nylon." It does not mean "bulletproof."

Rick said...

That's a good point. My third reaction (the first and second reactions were shock & then sorrow) was that an armed citizen could have taken him out. I'm glad I didn't have a chance to find out the hard way.

But full body armor doesn't mean that the wearer doesn't get knocked around when hit. It's possible that someone with a large caliber pistol could have done some good. Several big slow .45 hollow points, each powerful enough to take off an arm, could disable someone long enough to disarm him. (Ever been hit with a sledgehammer?) IF the "good guy" was experienced enough to react quickly, IF others didn't get in the way, etc. But this is all just 20/20 hindsight. Most concealed carry is smaller caliber, and it probably would just have given this lunatic another target. With all the forethought this guy put into it, he probably had an option for large caliber return fire, too.

I was at a gun show here in San Antonio last Sunday, and out of maybe a hundred dealers, at least half a dozen were selling body armor, etc. Dozens were selling military style weapons and quite a few were selling ammo. These are held at least once a month here, and the theater shooter could have purchased everything he used, all in one building, almost anonymously.

PBurns said...

Ballistic armor is pretty tough stuff - even the crap made by Toybo which has triggered about $100 million under the False Claims Act (yep, I got my thumb in a lot of pies :-)

Ballistic kevlar/nylon will stop pretty much anything from a handgun, but will not stop a high-powered rifle bullet from up close. This is true. Also if you are going with a ballistic vest alone, you are going to get some heavy bruising. But who goes with ballistic armor alone? No one! All the jackets have inserts except for those that are designed to be worn with dress suits. ALL tactical suits have insert slots. There is not a vest made that does not have them in front and back with a velcro tab both locations. And, believe it or not, they even sell the inserts on Amazon. See >> There is NO bruising and NO physical damage at all with an insert -- you can take a rifle round in the chest and keep on trucking. Ditto with a ballistic face mask which is made out of some kind of miracle stuff. Put one on a watermelon, slam a rifle round at it, and the watermelon is not even bruised as the masks are designed to deflect and are slippery too.

As to the question of what people can do, and will do in a real fire-fight situation, that's the difference between lightning and lightning bugs.

Every one in that movie theatre had a purse and a BIG diet drink next to them. Throw a purse and a diet coke on this guy, and you start his disorientation and allow possible boyd attack PROVIDED YOU COULD GET OUT OF YOUR CHAIR.

But, of course, you could not get out of your chair, could you?
Those exits at the front of a movie theatre are like a shooting stand at a range --perfect for a shooter who has a bunch of people pinned in front why structure and ailse and only two egress points, one of which is right next to you. Movie theatres are set up to be Turkey Shoots.

Even if you could rush the shooter, however, that assumes clear thinking in chaos, and most people do not think clearly when a couple of smoke bombs are being set off, a shotgun is fired over their head, and a couple of heavy rounds are sprayed up close. It becomes an instinctive "flight not fight" situation. For all the macho bullshit you will hear from people after the fact, 99% of all people will duck and cover, and that's true even for trained military men and women (several of whom were killed in Aurora).

The notion that all you need is a gun to stop gun violence is provably wrong, by the way, as the Reagan shooting made clear.

Hinkley shot President Reagan damn-near-dead even when Reagan was surrounded by people dripping with weapons and tactical training.

The Hinckley shooting has more to teach us, however. EVERY SINGLE BULLET Hinkely fired at Reagan from less than 15 feet away missed. EVERY SINGLE ONE. The one bullet that hit Reagan hit him AFTER it richocheted off the ARMORED sides of his limo.

So, to bring it back to Aurora: You have a guy with a gun, shooting at this armored lunatic from more than 15 feet away, and with smoke all around and people jumping up all over. Does he have a clear shot? Can he even hit a barn door with all the adrenaline in his system? Will the bullet bounce off the vest insert or ballistic mask and helmet and kill a baby or pregnant mother in the first row?

In the real world, things are not as simple as the macho men with rich fantasy lives think.

The Secret Service, armed to the teeth, chose to bring John Hinckley down without firing a shot because they knew that shooting in a real-world crowd situation is NOT what you want do if you actually want to stop the violence and bring the craziness to an end. The Secret Service KNOWS.


Chas S. Clifton said...

Nope, not body armor says the San Francisco Chronicle after doing some actual reporting.

PBurns said...

Did you notice that the price paid and the goods reported by the vendor as delivered do not seem to line up? I doubt it was a $150 knife. Full armour vest could have been had for the price quoted....the SF Chron article is simply repeating what the vendor says....the police report will tell us more. What is not in dispute is that a full ballistic suit can be had for about $3,000 or less. Cops have died because the criminals have such easy access to them. Did this kid get the right equipment? We'll see... he was clearly trying.

PBurns said...

Chas, I actually think the SF Chron may have done very bad reporting, but we shall see. In the interim, go to the web site and read the letter about the shooting on the right. Note what is bought and price paid. A reference is made to a vest but no model number and the terms here are both regular english (vague) and straight out of the catalog. The goal is clearly to get you to assume the open frame nylon vest, but the total price paid does not compute. However, on the same web site put "armor" into the search engine. Full ballistic vests with inserts. Now the bottom line number adds up.