BIDS: Blind Identification
A system to prevent both gun
owner registration and prohibited firearm sales
by Brian Puckett and Russ Howard
To avoid the historically tragic results of gun
registration and protect the U.S. Constitution, the authors propose to replace
America's National Instant Background Check System (NICS) with a Blind
Identification Database System (BIDS). Each gun dealer would have a list of all
persons prohibited from buying guns. Instead of a government background check,
dealers would check the list to see if potential buyers have firearms
disabilities. Thus, the government would no longer know who was buying guns and
could no longer build registration lists. Also, dealers would no longer be
required to keep records that identify gun buyers. In fact, they would be
prohibited from doing so unless such a policy was prominently disclosed. This
would prevent government from building registration lists by seizing dealer
records. To prevent unnecessary invasion of privacy and prevent abuse, BIDS
would list only the identities of prohibited buyers and their firearms purchase
disabilities. It would not contain the reason for any disability.
Ideally, the BIDS list would be computer-based
and updated over the internet, like anti-viral and other programs. For privacy
considerations, BIDS would ideally be encrypted to prevent easy access, and
could lawfully be used only by gun dealers and law enforcement, but only for the
specific purposes intended.
The authors note that records are being
illegally kept under NICS and that the Gun Control Act of 1968 is being used to
build a national registry of gun owners. Under GCA '68, dealers that go out of
business are required to turn in records to the federal government. Besides
normal industry turnover since 1968, a concerted effort by the Clinton
administration drove two-thirds of America's gun dealers out of business.
Consequently it's estimated that over 100 million firearms transaction records
are now in federal hands.
"As has been done in other countries in
other times," the authors note, "a tyrannical U.S. government can use
such records to confiscate firearms and to arrest, imprison, or murder actual or
suspected firearms owners. While a constitutional U.S. government...might obey
laws against keeping gun owner registries, a tyrannical government undoubtedly
would not...In the last century alone, registration and other gun controls are
estimated to have facilitated the murders of as many as 169 million people or
more by leaving them defenseless against criminal governments."
Internet updates would be convenient, but not
essential to the BIDS program, since the BIDS list could be published in hard
copy or on disk, with updates by U.S. Mail. Encryption is also not an essential
facet of BIDS, but it balances the prohibited person's lesser interest in
privacy with the public's predominant need or right to avoid registration - also
a privacy issue. Consideration of the privacy interest of prohibited buyers is
intended as a courtesy, not to recognize a right. Since criminal sentences are
generally public information, firearms disabilities are not generally
confidential. Hence, encryption-based arguments against BIDS are red herrings,
as are technical arguments over internet updates. Second-order complications
arise with regard to certain records that are not always public (mental,
juvenile), but these problems already occur in NICS. To the extent such records
can not be accessed and translated into reliable disability information, a small
percentage of buyers with such records may initially be wrongly rejected by BIDS
(as they are by NICS). Such buyers could still buy a gun by undergoing something
like the current NICS check.
Key differences between BIDS and the current
1. The dealer does the check, not the
government. Government does not perform any part of the check.
2. The check is on a list that is in the dealer's possession.
3. BIDS is not a background check. It's a check only for prohibited
persons and their disabilities. The list does not contain the reason
for any disability.
4. Dealers are not only no longer forced to keep gun buyer identifying
information, they're generally prohibited from doing so (without clear notice
to potential buyers).
5. Existing buyer identifying records are destroyed under heavy penalty and
further collection prohibited.
See the full proposal at: