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Body Armor: Necessity or Overkill?

Female in a black hoodie wearing a Coyote Predator Armor plate carrier with a pistol on her battle belt.

Disclaimer: This article will discuss various reasons people may choose to own body armor and serve to help the reader decide if armor is a good decision for them, but remember this - at the end of the day, It is nobody’s business what you choose to own, or why you choose to own it. Anyone interested in berating you for either is most certainly not worth your time or energy. If you want armor for protection, do it. If you want armor because it looks cool, more power to you.

“Only paranoid people own body armor.”

If I had a dollar for every time I heard this line, I could probably retire.

What comes to mind when you hear that statement? Is there any truth to it? Are people who choose to own body armor crazy or paranoid for doing so?

Hopefully you know the answer to that, but let’s humor the statement anyways. If we were to replace “body armor” with some other items, do you think your point of view would shift?

“Only paranoid people own fire extinguishers.”

“Only paranoid people own emergency food supplies.”

“Only paranoid people own carbon monoxide detectors.”

More than likely, you’ve never heard someone make these statements. Yet, of all the items we have mentioned, there is one which possesses a monumentally higher chance of actually being needed - one which hundreds of people wish they would’ve had every single day. Any guesses?

If you guessed body armor, you are correct.

Ironic, isn’t it? The item you have the highest chance of actually needing, is the one you have the highest chance of being scolded for owning. If that isn’t evidence of a massively brainwashed society, I don’t know what is. But it’s pretty damn heartbreaking to me that people feel obligated to ridicule others for nothing more than literally wanting the opportunity to protect themselves from getting shot, if the situation arises. You tell me I’m a “wannabe cosplayer” for wanting to protect my family? Does that make you a “wannabe cosplayer” for owning a fire extinguisher? After all, why wouldn't you just call the fire department every time there’s a fire? Perhaps it’s the same reason you wouldn’t just call the police if someone breaks into your home with a gun.

To be fair, you probably would call the police - but you certainly would not (and should not) rely on them for protection, especially in the first few minutes or seconds that count.

Red Fire Extinguisher and a residential smoke detecter.

You probably keep these in your home for emergencies - why not body armor?

You see, the real problem with these pretentious statements - statements we see every single day in our comment sections - has nothing to do with whether it’s “right or wrong” to own body armor. No, the real problem is people who somehow feel like it is their obligation to dictate what other people should or should not be allowed to own, and make sure they feel bad or stupid for not aligning their viewpoint with the person saying it. Hypocrisy at its finest.

After this classic line, we inevitably get a another one:

“Why do you feel the need to own body armor anyway? Are you planning on getting shot?

To this crowd, I typically respond with something along the lines of, “Why do you feel the need to wear a seatbelt? Are you planning on getting into a car accident?

Their answer, of course, is no; which perfectly exemplifies the fact that no one chooses to own emergency safety equipment with the intention (or even desire) of using it. They own it with the prayer that it’s never actually needed, but the willingness to do so if need be.

Photo of a Car Accident involving two vehicles.

No one wakes up planning on experiencing this. You probably wear a seatbelt anyway, right?

If you currently own body armor, hopefully this also gives you a glimpse into how much damage Red Flag Laws can do between yourself and someone who thinks with this type of flawed logic. Imagine if someone was able to get you in trouble simply because they thought something you owned looked too scary. It is astonishing how easily people are triggered over the mere mention of body armor, bulletproof vests, or tactical gear in general.

Why would owning body armor be a good idea?

Many people believe their life is simply not “in danger” enough to warrant the purchase of body armor, so they choose not to. A fair belief, right? Especially if you live in a relatively safe neighborhood. While I do not want to fear-monger these people into purchasing armor, I would like to remind them that most people who get shot do not wake up that day planning on it - and they do not always live in “sketchy” neighborhoods. I’d also wager many of them wished there had been a layer of Kevlar, ceramic, polyethylene, or AR500 between themselves and that bullet.

Now, let’s talk about some reasons the everyday citizen may choose to own body armor.

We have mostly established the obvious reason - owning body armor can protect you from getting shot. Again, that’s not a scenario anybody plans on, but it happens every day to countless people across the country regardless. And why is that? Because people have free will. Because people are stupid, misguided, irresponsible, and hateful with their use of that free will.

And unfortunately, the only way to remove the harmful effects that accompany free will, is to remove free will altogether. Which isn’t cool.

This isn’t to say there are not hyper-paranoid people who own body armor. I personally live in an area with quite a few of this type, though they tend to be fewer than those who antagonize this industry would like to think. At the end of the day, if people want to live in fear or paranoia, that’s fine, I won’t berate them for it - though I would hope to convince them that they’re allowed to be happy and/or let their guard down on occasion. To each their own. We also need to remember that we do not know anybody else’s life better than they do - what seems crazy to us may be perfectly normal to them, and they may have legitimate reason for appearing that way.

The thing is, there’s a line we all need to learn to walk, and it is found somewhere between two extremes:

  • Extreme #1: I purchased body armor because I live in constant fear of being shot.

  • Extreme #2: I purchased body armor, and now I am going to live as care-free and reckless as possible, because I have peace of mind.

Peace of mind is great; cautious peace of mind is better.

Photo of a man riding a horse wearing body armor. Predator Armor Plate Carrier in Coyote Tan.

Everyone lives their own life, knows what they need or don’t need, and likely has their own reasons for doing so.

Regardless of your personal reasons for owning body armor, it may be of worth to perform something of a mental inventory, per se, on your own personal “why” to owning armor in the first place. This can help greatly with understanding appropriate situations for the use of body armor in a self-defense situation. While there are any number of personal, subjective reasons why someone may purchase body armor, there are much more specific scenarios to correctly and/or efficiently use body armor.

De-escalation is your most powerful weapon

We know there are those who dream of being the “hero” in some gone-wrong scenario. Whether that is a home invasion, gas station robbery or the apocalypse itself, it is common for us to imagine what it’d be like to “save the day” so to speak. While this plane of thinking is not necessarily bad - and in fact, most people do it at some point or another - it may give some folks an overly-itchy trigger finger. More than a few “good guys with a gun” have ended up in prison over this ordeal, believe it or not.

The question arises: Is there a time and place for body armor? Or violence itself, for that matter? The answer is, of course: it is often violence which is required to put an end to the violent actions of others. And in these violent, often lethal situations, we must do what needs to be done to incapacitate dangerous individuals - one way or another - in order to maximize the amount of life saved; and of course, to protect ourselves.

Needle gage showing empty.

Talking someone down, if possible, is always the best solution.

The problem, as Frank Zappa once so helpfully stated, is that we are a “nation of laws, badly written and randomly enforced.” Whether or not you choose to believe this, experts of law are enabled by the same system that allegedly protects us to have an absolute field day in their attempts to ruin our lives for trying to save the lives of others; even for something as simple as the type of ammunition used, a word muttered after the encounter, or - you guessed it - why body armor was involved.

The point is this: while lethal force may be (and often is) required to save life, it should only be utilized when every other option has been exhausted. If there is any chance whatsoever to de-escalate a bad situation or individual, that chance should be taken. Thankfully, wearing body armor in and of itself is not a crime (yet), nor is wanting to protect yourself from being shot - however, firing a weapon in any public setting (or in your home) in the name of defense or protection will more than likely result in some manner of initial criminal charge, no matter who you are. That’s just the truth, and it’s one you’ll need to let the lawyers sort out for you.

Moving to a Pro-2A state also helps dramatically.

The Ultimate Solution? Common Sense, of course.

Would you agree that the United States is a nation of common sense?

Neither would we. Hence the need for bulletproof protection in the first place. Is it necessary? That may be up to the individual. Is it overkill? Absolutely not.

And while this nation may lack common sense as a whole, that doesn’t mean you cannot be the exception - in fact, it is your obligation to be, especially if you own firearms or body armor for self-defense. Many people bury themselves due to nothing more than a lapse of judgment. These lapses can be caused by anything, but generally result from a deadly combination of poor mental/physical training, and little-to-no common sense.

There is no such thing as too much knowledge, no such thing as too much common sense, and no such thing as too much training or learning. If you think you have everything figured out, there’s a decent chance you’ve become the problem yourself. The strongest survive for one simple reason: they are humble enough to know that there is always something new to learn, and that consistent training and educating helps the mind to evolve and adapt in a world that constantly does the same.

Male citizen with black Predator Armor plate carrier with body armor plates in the insert pockets.

Life is much safer - and fulfilling - when you take the time to learn before you act.

If you want to take it a step further, seek to educate those around you as well. Avoid acting condescending, sarcastic, or pretentious towards those who disagree with you. It’s easy to blame “the other side” for everything, but if you act like an ass to everyone around you, why would they even want to be like you? And people wonder why the country is so divided. Crooked politicians don’t help, but our attitudes sure as hell aren’t doing any good.

If you don’t want people to go “ballistic” over ballistic gear, then be a decent enough human being to try and help others understand - educate those who do not know better, and do so with a tone of sincerity and a hope for them to change. Continue to train and hone your own mind and skills. You cannot expect others to be open to change, if you are not open yourself.

So stay vigilant, stay smart, stay safe, and, well… stay bulletproof.



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