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BIDS: Blind Identification Database System

A system to prevent both gun owner registration and prohibited firearm sales

by Brian Puckett and Russ Howard

(Rev. 04-05-02)


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 system:

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:

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