I purely hate it that the antigunners have brought this discussion into the light! We know a lot about body armor these days, and the most important thing we know is that the less the bad guys know, the better it is for the good guys.
The reason for that is simple...there is no such thing as a "bullet-proof vest." You can punch a hole in pretty much anything, not to mention anything that you can actually wear. Instead, protection from bullets exists on a continiuum...the lightest, most comfortable to wear vests offer the least protection; steel and ceramic offer the most, but unless you're Clint Eastwood with a big poncho, you're not going to want to hang a steel or ceramic plate in front of your chest. Read this pretty good FAQ from a vest manufacturer.
Chosing a vest is a lot like chosing a carry gun — ya pays yer money and ya takes yer chances. I occasionally carry a little plastic .32 auto on a quick trip to the local market, because my threat assessment is that I'm unlikely to have to fight a war in the 2 miles from my house down the mountain to the market. Conversely, I once did an undercover story on a KKK paramilitary training camp where I carried two 1911 .45s, a J-frame .38 revolver in the pocket and, in the car, a folding stock Mini-14 with a couple of 30-round mags. Then again, I'm paranoid...then then again again, I'm still here.
A vest is the same way. You figure your threat assessment and choose the vest accordingly. As the Brady Center has now explained in excrutiating detail, most police officers use Level II vest, designed to deflect most hangun bullets up to 9mm. Level II-A is ligher, more comfortable and deflects fewer calibers. Level III-A is pretty heavy duty and will stop most handgun cartridges out there.
BUT BUT BUT...I once did a demo for SAWT cops on five different brands of Level II and II-A vest. The vests were on shooting dummies filled with ballistic putty — a pretty fair approximation of the human body. I was using a Browning High-Power loaded with over-the-counter 9mm ammunition of a brand and bullet weight I will decline to name. I walked along the line of dummies and fired a double tap into each from about 3 yards away. My ammo punched every single vest! In one case (a II-A), it shot through the front and back panels. The manufacturers sold a lot of Level III-A vests that day!
POINT IS, we know the limitations of vests (notice I haven't said anything about rifles in this post). We have NOT made discussions of vests everyday reading material because I believe (and I think I speak for a lot of people) that such a discussion makes the life of police and military personnel more dangerous!
The fact that Brady has done exactly that tells me that the zealots who surround Sarah Brady do not give a tinker's damn about the life of a police officer or a soldier as long as that death advances La Sarah's cause!
Be sure to mention that to your liberal friends. The antigunners, while claiming it's "for our own good," are perfectly willing to give terrorists blueprints on how to attack targets on American soil, then give detailed information on what calibers will defeat police and military armor! THINK about that! Who the hell do these people think they are?