Saturday, February 24, 2018

A Blockchain Solution To Gun Violence

Nearly every recent mass shooting involved a gunman who obviously should have been flagged and prevented from owning guns.  Unfortunately, there are numerous legal and structural barriers keeping us from proactively doing that today.  The current background check system only works after a crime has been committed, and by then it's usually too late.  And that's the best case scenario.  In reality, even after crimes are committed many instances go unreported, and gunmen still gain access to weapons.

These gaps have exasperated enough people to the point they are willing to eviscerate the second amendment, a politically charged and time-consuming process.  Therefore, closing the gaps in our current background check system and better tracking gun transfers seems like a good place to start today.

Putting aside the legal issues for a moment, the weak link in keeping guns from unstable people is the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS).  NICS only works if every crime is properly recorded, and even then it is subject to the inherent flaws of any centralized database.  Blockchain would enable multiple entry points that could be cross-checked for accuracy and the information would be distributed to many nodes that would also be cross-checked.  Inputs and outputs would be more reliable and accessible, and no single failure could bring the system down. 

A simple, though imperfect, blockchain analogy is the way digital photos are handled today.  Some people take photos with one device and keep them on only one device.  If either device fails, they are out of luck.   Others take photos on multiple devices and store them in the digital cloud creating a coherent record of all photos taken.   Blockchain takes that one step further and maintains the photos on multiple clouds. 

In addition, blockchain technology can effectively track gun transfers, make FBI and local police tip lines more useful, and integrate mental health warnings into the NICS.  Of course, new laws including due process and privacy firewalls would need to be established for these changes to be implemented. 

The following paper on gun control and blockchain was written by:

Thomas F Heston, MD, FAAFP
Associate Professor, Washington State University, Spokane, Washington USA
November 13, 2017

It makes a strong case for implementing blockchain technology with our current gun laws. 
Abstract:   Blockchain technology can be utilized to improve gun control without changing existing laws. Firearm related mortality is at epidemic levels in the United States and not only has a significant impact upon public health, it also creates a large financial burden. Suicide is the most common way guns kill. Through better gun tracking and improved screening of high risk individuals, this technological advance in distributed ledger technology will improve background checks on individuals and tracing of guns used in crimes. 

Please read the whole thing here:  A Blockchain Solution to Gun Control and fwd it as you see appropriate.

Also, here's a short video for those completely unfamiliar with the concept behind blockchains. 

1 comment: