Tag Archives: Blockchain

FAABS: Yet another blockchain gun registration scam

This one is called FAABS – Firearm Accountability Auditability Blockchain Solution.

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.

All things for all people. Sure.

If you don’t understand the basics of blockchains, here’s an introduction. The TL;DR is that a blockchain is a decentralized database that permanent tracks entry of data and changes to the data. You’re likely slightly familiar with Bitcoin, which uses the technology. It was supposed to protect privacy, and prevent “counterfeiting” of the electronic cash. Some folks liked it because transactions were private even from the IRS.

In fact, FAABS is firearms registration.

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.

And there’s the first problem. To enter your firearm into the FAABS blockchain database, you have to report your possession of the firearm to the ATF. And we all know we can trust the ATF to not keep a copy of the application in their own little database.

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.

Ah, so there’s also an FBI database of gun owners linked to FAABS. Owner registration.

The government cannot find out how many or what guns anyone owns without the willing cooperation of the owner.

That’s funny. The author claims that’s because the police would need a barcode freely offered by the owner in order to access the firearm record. But once a day, that FBI database is going to update the blockchain record of each firearm tied to that owner… which means they know how many guns (and what kind) each person owns.

Sure, if the government doesn’t keep any of those records, you’re safe. Right?

That’s what those folks who thought Bitcoin could hide their holdings from the IRS believed. I never did.

New Bitcoins are generated by “mining.” Mining is actually computers running verification checks on the blockchain; errors in blockchain copies, making sure the latest transactions are correct, reconciling multiple copies of the blockchain. It takes a fair bit of computing power, so the folks doing it are compensated with a Bitcoin for a certain amount of work. The tricky part is that miners — who can be anyone — now have the entire blockchain at their disposal. I saw no reason the government couldn’t set up as a miner to get that information, then instead of mining, run an analysis on the data to see who had what funds.

Guess what. The IRS has been doing just that since at least 2015. The company Chainalysis is dedicated to analyzing blockchains and ferreting out data.

So even if the ATF, for the first time in its existence was honest and followed the rules this time, and didn’t keep registration records… they don’t need to, because all they have to do is a blockchain analysis.

To use FAABS requires the gullible to download a smartphone app — no doubt from the ATF web site — to their personal tracking device, readily identifiable to the owner. By merely downloading the app, you’d identify yourself to the ATF as a gun owner. I’m sure we can trust them not to save that information either.

Hmm. Does the app handle multiple firearms per owner? Does it have a list to choose from when that cop demands you prove you’re the owner? Is the list encrypted and password protected?

And I’m sure it would never occur to the feds to code their FAABS app to do other things, like sending unencrypted data to a third party (other than the buyer and seller)… like the ATF.

The only upside to that is that the ATF is very, very bad at tracking stuff.

As is the case with every gun control proposal, FAABS also fails to address the existing black market in firearms, which is the source of more than half of firearms used in crimes (and nearly all the rest from other channels that avoid background checks). Once again, we have a scam meant to lull honest people into trusting the government with a firearm and owner registry, while leaving the criminals conveniently armed.

Oh, hell no.

Honest gun owners, who typically own guns as protection from bad guys, have a personal, vested interest in not providing guns to bad guys. But looking at confiscation schemes in multiple states, we also have an interest in not being tracked. The simplest way to achieve both would be a toll-free number; enter the buyer’s SSAN, DOB, and last name. Get back an automated yes/no, and a confirmation number which the anonymous seller keeps in case the cops come calling.

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