Gun Management on Blockchain

[The Integrated Engineering Blockchain Consortium Use Case Series: The IEBC has been developing blockchain specifications for decentralized management of dangerous or regulated machinery and the handling of hazardous materials in engineering fields.  Suppose that these methods could be adapted for the equitable management of firearms?  The topic of gun control is obviously more controversial, so please take this post as a thought exercise worthy of discussion rather than a political position of any kind by IEBC or anyone on our advisory board. Thank you – Ed.]

Problem: According to some sources, 280,000 Americans have died from guns in the last decade. It is a polarizing subject pitching second amendment activists against a public calling for regulation.

However, both sides do agree on a few things.

  • Opponents of gun control concede that a gun owner should be qualified to operate each specific type of firearm that they possess, so long as the vetting process protects the identity of the gun owner from malicious purview.
  • Advocates of gun control acknowledge that registering a gun with a central authority (government, insurance, gun schools) constitutes a potential loss of civil liberty.
  • Everyone knows that “blanket legislation” accomplishes little more than punishing a large number of responsible people in order to deter a relatively small number of irresponsible people.

 In order to both help secure civil rights of the owner and to help assure the safety of the public, the following proposal is submitted:

A person who seeks to acquire a firearm must create an anonymous persona on a blockchain ledger application. They must claim the weapons (type only) that they own and the qualifications that they have to operate it. Each claim must be validated by the firearm seller and / or the gun school, respectively. Mental health records, police records, personal references from other qualified owners may also be included in the transaction record corresponding to the power of the firearm sought.

This anonymous information can then be encrypted and time stamped on a blockchain. Any changes in these conditions must be added to, or deleted from the anonymous transaction record. The identity of the persona remains on a private key held by the owner. The owner would simply compare their private key to the public key assigned to the firearm, and a transaction would be validated to not validated on the blockchain.

Gun dealers would be able to sell firearms but can only validate those armament transactions commensurate with the threshold of competence evident by the private key.

In the Event of a firearm discharge, where the shooter is captured, the actual identity of the person and their gun obviously becomes known, therefore, they can reveal their private key without loss of civil liberty.  If the gun owner’s persona is accurate, then they will be fully protected under the 2nd amendment as a fact in the ensuing legal case.

If it turns out that a transaction record is fraudulent or misrepresented, then the shooter forfeits 2nd amendment protection and are judged according to the remaining facts of the case.

Burden of responsibility:

While this process may seem imposing on the gun owner, it may actually fortify the intention of the second amendment demonstrating that a self-regulated militia may serve as a valid vetting mechanism in a fault tolerant network of citizens. There is nobody outside the definition of a “well regulated militia” that can impact the owner’s private key as intended by our forefathers.   Meanwhile the burden of developing, maintaining, and applying the Blockchain network in the legal system is borne by the public (public key)

Alternate: Gun Owner Insurance:

Without revealing the gun owner’s identity, the transaction record may act as a proxy for the actual identity for the person. The insurance company would be in effect, insuring the transaction record, not necessarily the gun or the owner. The embedded information in the Transaction record may form risk-sharing cooperatives from which insurance products may be developed.

The gun owner would pay insurance premiums commensurate with their transaction records – i.e., corresponding to the correct risk pool of their anonymous persona. In the event of a claim against the transaction record the identity of the owner may be discovered. If the owner had paid the correct and commensurate premiums, they would be covered against legal action. If not, then they may find their selves under-insured.

Discussion:

This system sets up incentives toward safe and responsible gun ownership. Those who currently own a firearm will be assured that their neighbor is also qualified to own theirs. People who do not own a firearm may be confident that those who do are qualified and incented toward high-integrity. Those who do not own, but want to own, are assured that their rights will be protected in the event that they need to use their firearm. The likelihood of discharge decreases as the public becomes better trained. Fewer bad guys are likely to use weapons knowing that the rights, education (accuracy), and incentives toward gun ownership act increasingly against their interests.

Disciplined and experienced owners will pay a trivial amount for gun insurance while beginners would pay somewhat more. This will create market incentives for increased gun education, experience, mentorship, and community vigilance. If an individual has demonstrated severe shortcoming of responsibility, judgment, or prior convictions, the network may isolate these individuals or redirect them to a suitable alternate self-protection system. Marginal actors would be pooled with others possessing the similar characteristics. As such, their insurance would be more expensive, and perhaps prohibitive. However, continuing education may resolve some problems.

Conclusion

The application of an anonymous public ledger to a blockchain effectively preserves the identity of the gun owner while also providing essential data to a public ledger that may be assessed by gun dealers, gun trainers, insurance companies, mental health professionals, insurance companies, legislators, and the public at large – prior to granting firearm capacity beyond the capacity of the holder.

In the event of a discharge, where a shooter is identified, their identity is discovered anyway, therefore privacy is no longer intact. Only at that time may the public ledger be reviewed. There is a negative incentive for all people in the chain of possession in a community to allow an unstable person to possess a gun. Obviously, in the interest of citizen protection of the homeland, as intended by our forefathers, the entire public ledger may be suspended in response to, say, martial law.

While this proposal does not protect directly against a suicidal individual such as the recent Las Vegas tragedy, the assailant may have had a local history that may have prevented them from economically accumulating such extraordinary firepower required to commit extraordinary crimes.

This application differs little from a more clinical application such as machine operator or hazardous waste mitigation.When an machine operator injures someone, it is often called an accident.  If the machine operator is intoxicated and injures someone, it becomes a crime.  The intent of this gun management thesis is similar, to protect the health and welfare of people and property, including the gun owner.