Nova Scotia

N.S. to regulate body armour ownership

Owning or selling bulletproof vests and other types of body armour in Nova Scotia would require a permit or licence under legislation proposed by the provincial government on Wednesday.

Owning or selling bulletproof vests and other types of body armour in Nova Scotia would require a permit or licence under legislation proposed by the provincial government on Wednesday.

Justice Minister Ross Landry said the move is a reasonable safety measure because more people involved in criminal activity are wearing armour.

"We want to ensure that only individuals who legitimately require the use of body armour can possess it. Under the proposed act, it would be illegal to possess body armour without a legitimate purpose," he told reporters.

"Anyone who possesses or sells body armour would be required to have a permit or licence."

Police officers, sheriffs, corrections officers, armoured car guards, security guards and others who wear armour as part of their jobs would be exempt.

Halifax Regional Police Supt. Don Spicer said officers in the city are seeing more incidents where they are encountering people wearing protective gear.

"Body armour worn by criminals poses a serious safety concern both to police and the public. In a life-threatening situation, the presence of body armour may decrease the ability of the police to eliminate a threat — whether that threat is against an officer or a member of the public," Spicer said Wednesday.

"Police strongly believe the Body Armour Control Act is critical for the safety of both the police and the public."

Currently, if someone is arrested wearing body armour, police are forced to give it back when that person is released, said Spicer.

The Body Armour Control Act would allow a judge to impose a fine of up to $10,000 and up to three months in jail for anyone caught wearing or owning a bulletproof vest without a licence or permit. The maximum fine for corporations would be $25,000.

Landry said the legislation is based on laws in British Columbia, Alberta and Manitoba.

With files from The Canadian Press

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