After spending the year speaking with hundreds of firearm owners from over a dozen states all across the country, the GunClear team decided to sit down with a diverse group of firearm owners who were not familiar with our digital application and solution.

The goal of this meeting series was to power our customer-centric, continual learning process. At GunClear, we believe that success can only be achieved by understanding the deepest insights and nuances in order to provide a world-class solution.

In this post we will share our process and some of the key discoveries we made along the way. If you have thoughts on this topic, I would of course love to hear them.

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The Process

We took a deep dive into the industry’s pains and problems. We asked several quick, open-ended questions to stimulate discussions with these individuals, all of whom had purchased both new and used firearms across the United States—in places like Alaska, Alabama, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Missouri, Ohio, North Carolina, and Kansas.

During these conversations, we found out that the kind of firearms purchased by each individual varied a great deal. So did their ages. We also found out that, on average, each person had bought about 10 firearms in their lives.

About one-third of the folks we talked to said they had sold a firearm at one point or another. But the general consensus among the entire group was that selling guns is incredibly complicated—from both a logistical and legal perspective. Everyone was also concerned about where a potentially sold gun would ultimately end up.

One member of the group said that they hadn’t sold a gun because they thought it would be incredibly difficult to comply with all the various laws, procedures, and regulations. And even those who had sold a firearm to someone on the secondary market had only done so once or twice.

Why?

The challenges of gun ownership

Most of the folks we talked to pointed to the fact that gun laws vary on a state-by-state basis. Selling guns on the secondary market, then, causes too much of a headache because it’s difficult to ensure compliance across state lines. One member of the group actually said they had moved to California and lived there for three years without taking their guns with them because it was “going to be such a pain in the ass.”

It turned out that more than half of our interviewees did not have the paperwork needed to demonstrate compliance, ownership, and lawful sales history for their firearms.

While everyone we talked to had bought their guns legally, most had either lost the paperwork outright or weren’t organized to know exactly where the documentation was.

I asked everyone in the group to further develop, discuss, and illustrate experiences involving firearm transactions, sales, and compliance. Most of them shared the same sentiment: The process was incredibly time-consuming because of the excessive paperwork you had to fill out.

What’s more, most agreed that they would only buy guns from dealers they were personally familiar with. Everyone said that trust was a critical factor in deciding whether a gun dealer was legitimate and therefore would provide the proper paperwork in every transaction.

Interviewees expressed similar concerns about gun ownership. They were worried about procedural compliance and the origins of the guns they purchased.

They were also concerned about the quality of the used guns they purchased; the only way they would know they were getting a solid firearm was if they trusted the gun dealer and had confidence in every transaction with that individual. The group also acknowledged that they had to keep track of paperwork for every firearm they transacted in order to comply with their state’s laws and regulations.

Buying on the secondary market

Of the folks who transacted on the secondary market, most claimed they always felt comfortable since they only bought from dealers they trusted—something they all agreed was limiting in a transaction.

One individual told us that they had to bring in a friend to evaluate an AR in a parking lot. “You don’t know the history of the gun or the condition.”

We asked everyone if they were concerned about buying a stolen gun on the secondary market and, more broadly, if stolen guns being sold were of general concern. Many of the folks we talked to described instances where they decided not to buy guns due to suspicious behaviors, uncertainty surrounding the firearm’s origin, and the legitimacy of corresponding paperwork.

The group agreed that a digital solution that could legitimize peer-to-peer firearms transactions in a trustless, verifiable way would deliver a lot of value by solving these problems.

Problems with verifying gun history 

Was anyone in the group concerned about where a gun they sold ended up?

The individuals who had sold a firearm agreed that they were not concerned with the immediate sale. But they were concerned with any potential subsequent transactions.

One member of the group said this was a persistent concern for them because they don’t want any hassles with law enforcement. They then illustrated how an insecure or illegitimate chain of ownership is like a game of telephone. Recently, this person had been contacted by state police during an investigation surrounding the individual who had sold a firearm to our interviewee; police wanted that individual to provide the appropriate paperwork that legitimized the sale.

Since the transaction had only occurred a month prior, the interviewee was able to easily locate the necessary documentation. At the same time, the interviewee acknowledged that a similar request made for a firearm that was bought much longer ago would be difficult to fulfill—and that having a safe, secure digital solution to maintain this delicate and sensitive paperwork would make the whole process much easier.

Another member of the group expressed their desire to repurchase a MAK90 they sold to a close friend just because they were concerned where that gun might end up further down the road.

A different interviewee had their home burglarized. Over $100,000 worth of jewelry was stolen. But so were the individual’s guns. While the stolen jewelry was bad enough, the person had the utmost concern about the whereabouts of their stolen firearms. A refrain repeating in this person’s head: “Where are those guns and what is somebody going to do with them?”

The easiest way to manage firearms paperwork

We asked the group how they managed their firearms paperwork.

Of those who know where their paperwork is, most keep it in a physical safe. Still, they’d like to be able to use a secure digital solution to back up this delicate, sensitive, and valuable paperwork.

Many of the folks we talked to, however, didn’t know where their paperwork was. Almost none of them had ever scanned or saved paperwork on a computer or otherwise used any digital form of record keeping or legitimization.

One individual, however, had sent their LWRC rifle in for repairs and was required to register the gun on the company’s website. However, not every company has these same requirements. This shows that—while firearm manufacturers may already be communicating with consumers—there is a need for safe and secure channels that store and transmit this critical data.

While their experiences were all unique, they shared a lot of similarities. Altogether, our interviewees understand the problems firearm owners face and see the incredible value of being able to manage their firearms with a self-sovereign digital solution.

This is why, here at GunClear, we see a world where firearm ownership and individual data sovereignty coexist—enabling a level of firearm industry collaboration not yet imagined

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