The Gun Crisis and the Blockchain

tl;dr: A blockchain-based solution may be the only way to meet the needs of both sides in America’s raging gun debate.

The 2nd Amendment of the US Constitution- the right to bear arms- is something that most non-US citizens and many US citizens do not understand.

I get that.

Protection from Tyrannical Government

It seems unnecessary in a world of democracy where a government is for the people, by the people.

However, to really comprehend it, one needs to have a strong understanding of US history.

It is my contention that there are only two countries in the world where the founding principles are based on a core idea. The USA and Israel.

We can certainly debate that in another post, if you want, but let’s focus on the US and its core founding ideals of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Plus, let’s think about the context in which it was founded…namely, the tyrannical rule of King George III and the British Empire.

Because of that history, the idea that an armed citizenry was a right made a lot of sense. An oppressive government that could tax without representation, had no rights of habeas corpus, and could quarter soldiers in private homes without permission, were infringements on liberty.

To safeguard liberty and give people the opportunity to protect their property rights, the 2nd amendment gave individuals the right to defend themselves against an oppressive government.

Today, many people believe that the US government would not do something like that and that a homeowner, even with an AR-15, is powerless in the face of the military. That may be true, but the principle still stands.

(As an aside, now that I think about it, it could be considered ironic that many of the same people claiming the need for gun control/abolition are the same ones who claim that the “system isn’t working,” that justice is being perverted, and there are forms of institutional racism and oppression. But that’s a post for another day possibly).

Weapons of War on the Streets

Now, while I have sympathy for the views of 2nd amendment advocates who point to historical tendencies for governments to increasingly centralize and become tyrannical, it’s clear that there is something seriously amiss in America today.

Though it is statistically unlikely that any of us will be involved in a mass shooting at any point in our lives, the fact that schools have to practice lockdown drills and synagogues, like mine, have to train for ‘active shooter’ scenarios, is not ok with me.

It’s a tragedy beyond measure that kids in schools have to know things like this.

The epidemic of mass shootings and, even more so, the fear that they instill is not something that we as a society can tolerate.
So, how do we solve this?

A Decentralized Registry of Gun Owners?

The sticking point for many ardent defenders of gun rights is that a centralized, government-controlled registry of who owns a gun defeats the very purpose of having a gun.

If the government knows that you own a gun, it can easily come in and confiscate it.

That is a liberty inhibitor.

At the same time, society has a right to know that a person who wants to buy a gun is not a convicted felon or in a mentally questionable state.

The possible solution?

A decentralized registry of guns.

Imagine a system that could prove that a given gun was acquired legally, avoiding the gun show loophole.

Or one that, when combined with a decentralized identity system, could allow someone to prove to a gun shop owner that s/he has no criminal record (essentially passing a background check) without having to give up personal information to do it.

I know it sounds far-fetched, but this is what David Noble and the team at Gun Clear are trying to accomplish.

If they can pull it off, it can provide society with a higher degree of confidence that guns are in the hands of responsible people while at the same time, giving gun owners the confidence to participate in a national registry without fear of persecution and confiscation.

It may be the only way to balance the needs of the hard core few who are gun owners (but have rights) with the desires of the many for more control and regulation of who can really own them.

The Gun Crisis and the Blockchain was originally published in Data Driven Investor on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.