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Buffalo Police Commissioner Joseph Gramaglia addresses the media. (Submitted)
Buffalo Police Commissioner Joseph Gramaglia addresses the media. (Submitted)

Higgins & Meng push for passage of Aaron Salter, Jr. Responsible Body Armor Possession Act


Fri, Aug 11th 2023 12:00 pm

Bill designed to protect police & public safety

During a visit to Buffalo, Congresswoman Grace Meng, along with Congressman Brian Higgins, advocated for approval of the Aaron Salter, Jr. Responsible Body Armor Possession Act (H.R. 3247). Meng and Higgins, lead sponsors of the bill, were joined by City of Buffalo Mayor Brown, Buffalo Police Commissioner Joseph Gramaglia, and families of the victims of the Tops Supermarket mass shooting.

“Some like to say, ‘The best way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun,’ ” Higgins said. “Aaron Salter was a good guy with a gun, but he was ultimately left defenseless against the military-style weapon and body armor used by the Buffalo shooter. This is a common-sense measure to better protect our neighbors and the good people working every day to respond to emergencies and protect our communities.”

Meng, a member of the House Gun Violence Prevention Task Force, said, “The only purpose of military-grade body armor is to stop bullets, and when used in the setting of mass shootings, such equipment prolongs these horrific attacks and often leads to more loss of life. This bill recognizes the bravery of Aaron Salter Jr., while also laying the groundwork to ensure similar bad actors – like the perpetrator of the Buffalo shooting – don’t get their hands on this type of body armor in the future. This measure will further protect our supermarkets, neighborhoods and communities and I am proud to be working alongside Rep. Higgins to usher this bill through the House.”

The bill would prohibit the sale, transfer or possession of enhanced body armor by civilians with exemptions for law enforcement, active-duty military, or others who use the equipment for work.

Brown said, “The Aaron Salter, Jr. Responsible Body Armor Possession Act will help prevent the next mass shooting, like we unfortunately experienced here in Buffalo on May 14, 2022, from happening in our community and communities across our country. No average person needs tactical body armor for protection. I applaud Congress members Higgins and Meng for championing this legislation and for continuing the dialogue on how to keep our communities safe from the gun violence epidemic.”

Gramaglia said, "When officers encounter an active shooter who is armed not only with a high-powered weapon but a military-grade vest to defend against our efforts to stop them, it presents a significant challenge and increased threat. The military-grade vest used by the Tops Markets shooter allowed him to continue his deadly racist rampage that should have ended with Aaron's bullet. This new law will make our communities safer and our police officers safer against deadly threats. I thank Congressman Higgins and Congresswoman Meng for their efforts to make our communities safer, and for recognizing LT. Aaron Salter, who died saving lives."

Higgins’ team said, “The use of body armor among mass shooters has increased in recent years, limiting the ability of law enforcement to protect themselves and the community, and consequently making these mass killings more deadly.

“In the case of the 2022 racist mass shooting in Buffalo, retired Buffalo Police Officer Aaron Salter Jr.’s attempt to stop the shooter with his own weapon was thwarted by the shooter’s body armor, and the brave security guard lost his life while saving countless others.”

A press release noted body armor has been used in many high-profile mass shootings across the country, including but not limited to:

√ 2012: Movie theater in Aurora, Colorado: 12 dead / 70 wounded

√ 2017: First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas: 26 dead / 22 wounded

√ 2021: King Soopers Supermarket in Boulder, Colorado: 10 dead (including a responding police officer)

√ 2022: Tops Supermarket in Buffalo: 10 dead / 3 wounded

√ 2023 Mall Shooting in Allen, Texas: 8 dead / 7 wounded.

The Congress members noted their body armor legislation would “build on the progress made under the bipartisan Safer Communities Act. The law, approved by Congress and signed by President Biden in 2022, takes several steps to address gun violence in America including strengthening ‘red flag’ policies to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous individuals, investing in community violence intervention programs, and supporting improvements to mental health services and school safety.

“The Aaron Salter, Jr. Responsible Body Armor Possession Act is supported by gun safety and law enforcement organizations including Brady and the Major Cities Chiefs Associations.”

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