Blockchain in Action: Guns on the Chain


Estimated reading time: 3 minutes, 17 seconds

One of the most controversial issues in the United States today is gun control. Recently, several high profile mass shootings have made headlines. It has sparked a national debate on what we can do to avoid these types of tragedies in the future.

In this edition of Blockchain In Action, we will be taking a look at how government agencies in the US can use blockchain to track firearms.

Let’s first start by addressing the elephant in the room. There are a lot of folks out there who probably don’t like the idea of having any government agency tracking their weapon. This is certainly a valid point of view.

However, the purpose of this article is to illustrate one of the many ways blockchain tech could be utilized in the coming years. As to whether or not it should be used to in this manner, is a topic best left for the reader to decide.

Using blockchain to track firearms

At present, the United States is home to 42 percent of the world’s civilian-owned guns, and 31 percent of its mass shooters.

However, folks like Washington State Professor Thomas Heston believe that blockchain tech could help improve gun control. Thus, potentially reduce the number of gun-related deaths. Heston claims that the decentralized ledger could be used to create a database to track the manufacture, transfer, and purchase of guns. In theory, this could prevent firearms from falling into the wrong hands.

The Profesor recently published a paper last November entitled “A Blockchain Solution to Gun Contol.” In his piece, he explained,

Blockchain applications in gun control are most likely to be effective if they help facilitate background checks, help track the flow of guns, and help create a stable economic climate. Blockchain protocol can help with background checks by helping create and maintain a database that is accurate, resistant to hacking, and easy to access. Tracking the transfer of guns from manufacturer to dealer to end user can also be readily improved through blockchain technology, similar to what is being done in other markets that require accurate tracking to ensure safety.”

Some issues with this

However, Heston realizes that there are several challenges involved with creating this database. Firstly, he acknowledges that the technology has to be developed, which could be costly.

Moreover, he also stated,

“another potential risk, I think, is a fragmented system, because you are going to have a state-by-state thing that will actually hinder the sharing of information. So, the federal government will have to take a leadership role in it.”

There’s already opposition

Perhaps unsurprisingly, some lawmakers don’t seem too keen on Heston’s proposal. In fact, the state of Arizona has already passed a bill that bans the use of blockchain to track firearms.

Missouri is also considering legislation that would outlaw the use of decentralized technology for the purpose of monitoring gun activity.

Missouri state representative Nick Schroer explains,

“Legislative members are still incredibly uneasy with the thought of a third party or a ‘big brother’ monitoring how many shots you take at different points of time. The individuals in Missouri whom I’ve talked to, whether they own guns or not, still deeply believe in privacy.”

While it seems very plausible that blockchain tech could be effectively used to track firearms, the debate as to whether or not it should will likely be fascinating to observe as it unfolds.

By now, many people have heard of blockchain technology. However, they may not be fully aware of all the ways this new tech is, or soon will be, changing the world around us.

In our series, Blockchain In Action, we take a look at some real-world uses for this digitized and decentralized public ledger. We discover how it can potentially help various industries become more profitable, increase efficiency, and, perhaps most importantly, make our everyday lives easier.

For more awesome articles by Jacques Martin, check ’em out here