A blockchain-based electronic gun safe associates with the gun owner’s personal information. Change of ownership happens in a similar way a transaction occurs on blockchain including verification.
Thomas Heston, who is a public health professor at Washington State University, last year the idea of tracking of firearms using a blockchain-based databased.
This is another indication that blockchain might find more applications in the future. Even if no one knows whether cryptocurrencies will last or not, blockchain is probably here to stay, many know. However, some lawmakers are resisting this to the idea. They claim the use of blockchain will invade privacy if a third-party monitors use of guns.
Heston’s white paper introduces what is called an electronic gun safe. This safe connects to its owners’ biometric data such as a fingerprint. If a person wishes to buy a gun or owns one, they can upload personal information in the safe. Gun ownership can still shift from one safe to another in a similar way in which blockchain transactions happen. The gun transaction will even need verification by a distributed group of data owners. However, use of blockchain means ownership will exist permanently and securely on the blockchain.
The move, according to Heston, will reduce firearm-related injuries. These cost the American economy some $229 billion a year as estimated in 2012. It will also secure gun owner’s data making it hard for stealing by hackers.
It may also improve the accuracy of background checks by FBI about who should pass the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS).
However, one challenge according to Heston is that the technology is expensive to implement.
“Another potential risk, I think, is a fragmented system, because you are going to have a state-by-state thing that will hinder the sharing of information. So, the federal government will have to take a leadership role in it,” he added.
Blocksafe, an Atlanta-based blockchain-powered supply chain solutions company, is already using the idea for firearms tracking.
Kevin Barnes, a founder of Blocksafe and a U.S. Army veteran, told Bitcoin Magazine in June 2017.
“Decentralized applications (DApps) can be developed in a way that greatly benefits companies in the gun industry. For example, a third-party device is created by a manufacturer. They could install a custom-built DApp onto it, so the manufacturer can easily track its inventory and distribution”.
He said although many manufacturers are for the idea, many lawmakers are skeptical. For instance, Arizona passed a law in 2017 banning the use of decentralized technologies in firearms tracking. Missouri state is also considering a similar bill.
Privacy concerns based on misunderstanding
One reason for resistance by lawmakers is that privacy invasion is still a concern for such a technology. In other words, lawmakers do not want a third party or a ‘big brother’ to monitor gun ownership and use. This is according to Nick Schroer, a state representative who is sponsoring the Missouri bill. However, he admits that it could enhance gun tracking and reduce gun theft.
Heston says the claim of privacy violations basis on a misunderstanding. This is because blockchain adds in privacy benefits and reduces the risk of cyber-attacks.
Bans says although lawmakers are resistant to the idea, enhanced firearm tech will continue to develop. He says his solution targets at saving lives and enhancing guns. The solution makes it possible for the owner to be in full control of its features and data.