Blockchain Completely Alters The Gun Debate
About The FAABS Project
FAABS stands for Firearm Accountability Auditability Blockchain Solution. The co-inventors of FAABS are creating a nonprofit organization to take control of the FAABS code. The mission of the nonprofit will be to educate how FAABS can solve the gun misuse problem without unnecessarily infringing on gun rights, further develop the system and manage the operation. A crowdfunding campaign will be launched in support of the nonprofit effort and to publish a book the inventors have written about this topic. The Blockchain portion of the FAABS code has been published on Github. The nonprofit campaign is at https://faabs.org/
A PARADIGM SHIFT
The core tenet of true gun control efforts is to reduce firearm misuse. Ironically, it is also the best way to protect gun rights. Systems with robust Accountability and Auditability (A&A) have been shown to be extremely effective at mitigating gun misuse and keeping guns away from those who should not have them. So much so, that there is little political opposition to civilian ownership in these situations. But, A&A policies have historically been extremely burdensome and infringe upon the rights of gun owners. The pro-gun community has steadfastly resisted them.
Blockchain completely changes all of this. It can be used to provide a level of A&A that is dramatically more effective than universal background checks at keeping guns away from those who should not have them. At the same time, it can be made to be very convenient to use. Gun transfers can be done in seconds to minutes, 24/7, using only smartphones, anywhere there is Internet access, without involving the FBI or any other third party, between just the buyer and seller and completely private. Overall, the process is far less burdensome and restrictive to gun rights than the current background check process. This level of convenience means it can be used for all gun transfers: gun shows, private sales, gifting and even lending firearms.
The net result is a first time ever Win-Win for both sides. Gun control advocates will get a robust, comprehensive system that closes all the loopholes far more effectively than universal background checks. Gun rights advocates get a system that doesn’t infringe upon their rights. Everyone gets a process that stems the flow of firearms into the hands of those who should not have them, which dramatically reduces gun misuse and lowers the political controversy.
ACCOUNTABILITY & AUDITABILITY
Accountability means that the person in possession of the firearm can be trusted not to misuse it. At a minimum, accountability is measured in terms of passing an FBI background check. Higher levels of accountability come from higher standards that must be passed and maintained to continue to hold the privilege of being able to possess and use the firearm. Examples of these levels of accountability are being granted concealed carry permits in states with strict competency and safety requirements that must be met, and earning the right to an NFA device, such as a suppressor. In these use cases, there is a very low incidence of misuse. And, accountability is increased if there is some risk of the user losing the privilege from misuse or other factors.
Auditability is the ability to trace a firearm that is inappropriately transferred from one accountable person to another person who may or may not be accountable. The higher certainty of auditability, the less likely the person will transfer the firearm to a person with less than acceptable accountability. This is especially the case if there is an easy pass/fail metric to determine if the person is accountable as well as penalties for transferring the gun to an inappropriate person.
Use cases with high levels of A&A show an incredibly low level of misuse. For example, in the cases of NFA suppressors and machineguns, the incidence of homicides appears to be much lower than firearms homicides in nations that have some of the most restrictive gun laws on Earth — such as the UK, Germany, Japan and Ireland[*]. There are approximately 44 crimes committed annually that include suppressors[†]. There doesn’t appear to be any detail about if any of those crimes are homicides, but judging from other data it seems that would not be the case. For example, California’s homicide report for 2017 showed that no homicides were committed with either suppressors or machineguns.[‡]
FAABS: Firearm Accountability Auditability Blockchain Solution
FAABS has been designed so that it can match the auditability of the NFA devices, but without a gun registry or any other restriction so vehemently objected by the pro-gun community. In contrast, FAABS protects gun rights and privacy.
In the absence of a national firearm accountability program, accountability through FAABS will be determined by the states, just as it is now. But one thing is clear. If a person transfers a gun to someone not qualified to receive it, and hence not in compliance with FAABS, and that gun is later confiscated from a crime scene, it will be tracked to that last legal owner with near 100% certainty. This will essentially eliminate the flow of guns into the hands of persons who have been deemed not qualified to have them. Universal background checks cannot do this. This condition will significantly increase the accountability of the existing gun owner in terms of caring for and transferring guns.
FAABS GUN TRANSFER PROCESS
The actual transfer process itself is simple and fast. Buyer and seller meet in person to transfer a gun. The buyer uses his/her smartphone to scan a barcode on the seller’s phone, and then sends an encrypted message to the seller through the FAABS App. The seller uses the App and information sent in the message to retrieve and decrypt information from the Blockchain and verify that the buyer can legally acquire the gun in question. Upon confirming this, the seller then confirms the transfer. The buyer receives the confirmation notice and information proving the gun in question is being transferred. The buyer then confirms acceptance of the transfer. Both parties’ digital signatures confirming their compliance are logged on the Blockchain in an encrypted form.
This Transfer Record is permanently stored on the Blockchain but only accessible by the two parties involved. The records are completely private but can be audited by police under very specific circumstances, and with the cooperation of either buyer or seller, if there’s ever a need. All gun checks and firearm trace requests are logged on the Blockchain to protect against abuse of the process.
FAABS POLICE FIREARMS TRACES
Police will use the serial number of the confiscated firearm to initiate a request on FAABS. Since the original owner on all firearms on FAABS is the government entity with the highest authority (very likely the ATF), the request will be made to the ATF. The ATF will give the FAABS license number, which will lead to the manufacturer. Assuming a court order will be necessary, the manufacturer will enter their master key to unlock the Transfer Record to the next party in the chain of ownership. The Police will repeat this process until they identify the last legal owner. Each gun has its own distinct chain and only information about the gun in question is available to the Officer through the trace.
Provisions are made in FAABS to safeguard against any link in the chain of ownership becoming unable to comply. For example, gun owners who sell a gun can short the ownership chain in FAABS by linking the previous and next owner in the chain, or by going to their local Police Agency, or anyone else with a FAABS license, and transfer the link to them. From that point on, the former owner will not be responsible for maintaining the chain. In addition, gun owners should always ensure redundancy for their master key, such as a hardcopy in a safe place.
With every step of the gun trace process, the request by the Police as well as the compliance by the former owner in the transfer chain is logged on the Blockchain.
FAABS POLICE FIREARMS SPOT CHECKS
If Police encounter a suspicious person with a firearm and determine that a spot check should be conducted, the Officer would request that the civilian show the Transfer Record for the firearm. If the person complies, they would retrieve the information from the App on their phone and show a barcode to the Officer. The Officer would scan the barcode and use the information to log a formal request on Blockchain, which would include the Officer’s FAABS license number. The person would receive the request and confirm it to enable the Officer to view the information for that particular gun, and only that particular gun. The Officer could validate both legal ownership and license status. To protect the rights of the person, no other information will be available to the Officer, including what other guns or how many other guns the person legally owns.
FAABS LICENSING: REPLACING BACKGROUND CHECKS
FAABS is reliant on the transition of the FBI from doing reactive, point of transfer background checks to doing pre-emptive, daily license status suspensions and reinstatements. As felons are convicted, restraining orders are issued, people are declared mentally incompetent, etc., the FBI would flag those folks on the government ID system (such as a state DMV system) as not being qualified to possess a firearm. The government ID system, which would be linked to the corresponding FAABS license address if there is one, would be used to copy the suspension flag to the FAABS license on the Blockchain and render it unable to receive a gun transfer.
It should be pointed out that this change for the FBI is not specific to FAABS. It’s a necessity regardless if FAABS is implemented or not. As existing gun owners become unfit or unqualified to possess firearms, the background check process cannot catch these situations. Instead of having two processes, it makes far more sense to combine them into one. Currently, the FBI conducts approximately 25 million annual background checks. This workload would go down if background checks were replaced by this pre-emptive qualification process.
GUN RIGHTS MEASURES
Any system that is viewed as an overall infringement to gun rights will face stiff opposition by the pro-gun community. From the outset, FAABS was designed with the perspective of the gun community in mind. There is no gun registry. Nobody knows how many guns any single person owns. Nobody, other than the two parties involved in the firearm transfer, has any knowledge who owns a particular gun or previously owned it. The government cannot find out how many or what guns anyone owns without the willing cooperation of the owner. Gun transfers are fast, easy, can be done anywhere, at any time and are completely private. The system was designed with convenience, privacy and protection in mind to eliminate, or at least mitigate, the traditional objections of the gun community.
Blockchain will become the center of the gun debate, very soon. Extremists on the Left and the Right can no longer hide behind their well-used talking points. Those who falsely hide their true intentions of extreme gun bans and a repeal of the Second Amendment behind the label of gun control and reducing firearm misuse will be unmasked. The same goes for the extreme Right who are rejecting all forms of gun control under the premise that it is ineffective and only hinders the rights of gun owners, but in reality just want no gun control at all. The win-win solution afforded by Blockchain has altered these paradigms. The Blockchain portion of the FAABS code is available now, forcing the discussion to the forefront. It’s going to be very interesting to see how this plays out.