Over the past decade, blockchains have outgrown their roots as the supporting technology for cryptocurrencies and become a pillar for a decentralized, secure future that crosses industry boundaries. A strong community of developers, who were focused on security and privacy, completely changed what the technology can do. Now, the team at GunClear is taking full advantage of this constantly evolving technology and recent advancements to provide a secure and efficient blockchain solution for firearm owners, buyers, sellers and manufacturers.

The Inspiration For GunClear

In 2017, blockchain experienced a landmark year. During this transformative time, many of the limitations that had plagued blockchain were removed. One of the biggest advances was the creation of non-fungible tokens. The idea was simple: instead of having a wallet hold multiple quantities of the same item (like a currency), why not store individual quantities of unique items?  This meant that digital items could be different from each other and have their own complete history. For example, if you were to use one of these digital tokens and tether it to something physical, say a firearm, you could digitally record the ownership of that firearm and experience all the benefits of blockchain technology.

The introduction of non-fungible tokens, combined with a little inspiration, gave birth to GunClear. By leveraging the features of a non-fungible token, we can accurately represent a real world item with a digital identity and history. Currently, tracking the ownership history of a firearm is being done using an antiquated system that does little to ensure compliance with laws and regulations. GunClear is poised to change all that.

A Better Way of Conducting Transactions

Today, when a firearm is bought and sold, both parties must complete a form. Depending on the jurisdiction, the seller may be responsible for keeping a copy of the paperwork. The buyer does not need to maintain a copy and, in practice, neither party often does. This laissez-faire approach to firearm transactions can easily create a missing link in the ownership history of firearms.  By using non-fungible tokens to represent a firearm, we can remove these missing links because non-fungible tokens are designed in such a way that the ownership is recorded throughout the lifetime of that token.

If you have read anything about cryptocurrencies, you have probably seen the term “wallet.” Basically, a wallet is software that holds a user’s keys so they can view their balance and send/receive tokens. When it comes to GunClear, a wallet can be thought of more as a digital gun safe.  

GunClear has effectively combined the use of non-fungible tokens and wallets to make it easy for users to manage a gun in their wallet if they wish to view, sell, or report a gun. Ultimately, our belief is that having this information easily accessible will help responsible gun owners become more compliant with gun laws in a constantly changing world.  

A Multi-Chain Solution

One of the guiding principles behind GunClear is the belief that users should securely own their personal data without needing to place trust in a third party, which is why all firearm tokens are created on the Ethereum main chain. This is an independent decentralized blockchain, which GunClear has no more authority over than any other user for. Ultimately, GunClear is a platform built on new infrastructure supported by the community which uses it.  

A blockchain is strengthened by having a large active network of peers. Creating a token on this main chain means each token is “backed” by a large independent network giving users security and stability. The main Ethereum chain is a great choice when it comes to protecting users and offering a consistent and reliable product.

The big disadvantage of using Ethereum is that interactions with this blockchain can become costly in both time and money. With so many applications running on the same network, traffic jams can occur. These delays can ultimately end up eating up resources. 

It was this disadvantage that led to the development of a process which improved the system as a whole. Our solution was to employ a multiple-chain network that can reap the benefits of both a public and separate child blockchain. Initially, a token for a firearm is created on the Ethereum main chain, but can then be transferred to the child chain. This approach provides the benefits of being backed by the Ethereum main chain while also allowing for the execution of transactions on a smaller child chain. Users get the best in security and speed. 

By employing this technique, complex operations between users can happen not only much cheaper, but faster as well. The child chain is supported by users of the system itself, which gives them an immediate incentive to act as a “good node” in the network.  All peers have the backing of the Ethereum chain, while avoiding any high transaction fees or long verification times for operations.

Using Blockchain to Protect Individual Liberties

While the technology behind GunClear may seem complex and even abstract at first glance, the results are clear: a secure and completely private way to track gun history in a way that maintains users’ rights and sovereignty. Firearm owners, sellers, buyers and manufacturers can all have access to accurate gun histories and help ensure compliance with existing gun laws without sacrificing their individual rights to ownership and privacy. This intersection between technology and public policy points to a better future for everyone.

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Next week will be detailing our use of Zero Knowledge Proofs in the development of GunClear.