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Body armor and tactical gear sales are going up due to the uptick in mass shootings, according to NPR.
There is increasing interest among progressives of color, a gun rights advocate P.B. Gomez told NPR.
"People who want to protect themselves at protests" in case they're "confronted by far-right agitators," Gomez said.
Body armor manufacturers are seeing a spike in sales amid recent incidents of gun violence in the US, NPR reported. Increasingly, they're seeing purchases from leftists and progressives of color who "want to have that protection," a gun rights advocate said.
"It's becoming popular among leftist progressive people of color," P.B Gomez the founder of the Latino Rifle Association told NPR, adding that they "want to protect themselves at protests when they're in situations where they might be confronted by far-right agitators."
"The rhetoric towards the larger communities in these far-right circles is getting worse, and the rhetoric is expanding, so that's sort of the motivation behind it," Gomez, who said he's seen more and more body armor worn at protests, told Insider.
In the wake of racially motivated attacks like the Buffalo, New York, supermarket shooting, which targeted a predominantly Black community, groups like the Latino Rifle Association have argued that body armor is "valid protection from hate crimes."
"If you are POC or LGBTQ+, highlight the fact that body armor is valid protection from hate crimes, you don't appreciate New York's attempt to make you vulnerable," the Latino Rifle Association tweeted last month.
Critics have argued, however, that civilian body armor is unnecessary unless your job requires it. New York passed a gun reform bill restricting the purchase of body armor in response to the Buffalo mass shooting. The bill, signed by Kathy Hochul on June 6, restricts the purchase of a soft vest that is more concealable. However, the shooter wore a hard metal-plated vest that deflected a security guard's bullet, according to law enforcement.
"We often heard the good guy with the gun can stop the bad guy with the gun, but in this case, the bad guy with the gun had body armor on and the retired police officer, Officer (Aaron) Salter, could not stop him," New York State Senator Sean Ryan, who is in favor of the bill, told Spectrum News 1.
"Why the heck are we selling body armor to civilians that have nothing to do with public safety?" Ryan said.
Gomez criticized the bill, saying it's "banning the most passive defense you could possibly have to gun violence."
Sales of protective gear also rose after the Texas school shooting last month. Demand for bulletproof backpacks spiked after the mass shooting, which left 19 children and two adults dead, Insider's Yelena Dzhanova previously reported.
Brad Pedell, owner of a tactical shop in New York City, told local news outlet 13Wham that he is disappointed with the New York law. Much of his business includes selling body armor.
"People are wanting to feel safe and are looking for help. And that's what we offer. We offer them help — not to be aggressors or to commit crimes," Pedell said.
Justin, the owner of a co-op that designs and sells firearm accessories with left-leaning views, told Insider a rise in right-wing violence "is forcing people to make the choice to have to protect themselves."
"I do think body armor in and of itself is very valuable for protecting people against the threat of their agitators and counterparts," he added.
Read the original article on Insider