A question came into my office recently about body armor laws/regulations and whether a Washingtonian with a felony conviction could lawfully purchase body armor. A quick internet search found several websites that purport to give the status of body armor laws in all 50 states. All but one said the same inaccurate thing –
“In Washington, anyone can purchase and use a bullet proof vest, unless he or she has been convicted of felony.”
According to these websites, there is a blanket prohibition in Washington on all convicted felons. But none of these websites provide a reference/citation to the Revised Code of Washington; they all just seem to be quoting each other.
I know of no Washington law regulating the purchase/possession of body armor by a convicted felon or anyone else.
However, Federal law does prohibit VIOLENT felons from purchasing/possessing body armor (see 18 USC 931, see also definition of “crime of violence” in 18 USC 16). And, of course, this federal law applies to all states. So in Washington, if you’ve been convicted of a felony that is defined as a crime of violence, you cannot purchase/possess body armor (this is a lifetime prohibition). But there are lots of felonies that do not fall into the crime of violence category (e.g., theft, fraud, etc.).
A large part of my practice is helping Washingtonians get their gun rights restored through the courts (DV convictions, and most class C & B felonies). And the federal government will honor Washington’s restoration of firearm rights (permitting a NICS background check to go through) but, for whatever reason, the feds will not apply that restoration of firearm rights to their “crime of violence” body armor prohibition.