Making a Registry

Uncle notes the Obama Administration is looking to computerize all the 4473s held in a giant ATF storage facility in West Virginia, from out-of-business FFLs. The Information Week article on this certainly makes me glad I don’t subscribe to that particular tech rag. Too many tech people get enamored with technology and don’t pay enough attention to human factors. This has been made inefficient by design, because an efficient, computerized system would mean you have a registry, albeit incomplete.

I say this as a tech person: screw putting this stuff in a database. I would suggest the far more low tech solution of a burn barrel, some kerosene, and matches, if we’re worried about how much federal dollars we’re wasting. That money would be far better spent on cops who spend their time catching real criminals. I’m done being “reasonable” with these people. The passage of SAFE in New York, the bills currently in Congress, and Colorado should be a wakeup call that they will pass whatever they can get away with. Gun control must go the way of the temperance movement.

18 thoughts on “Making a Registry”

  1. Sure would be a shame if that warehouse caught fire and the local FD had trouble with its engines…

    1. LOL

      I think maybe he’s tired of being the nice guy, and with good reason. It’s hard to be reasonable with the opposition when they’re either crazy, ignorant, evil, or some combination thereof.

      1. I think the late mobilization of gun owners presents an excellent opportunity to crush these people mercilessly. I’m seeing it here locally.

    2. I’ve never supported a registry, or any kind of “background check” scheme that would either create one. That said, having a lot more gun owners mobilized gives us much better options than we have when gun owners are asleep at the switch. No one in this issue compromises because they want to, they compromise because it’s forced on us. The other side’s hand is looking increasingly weak.

      Of course, that could change.

  2. I hit the jackpot. I bought from an FFL that ended up having a total loss fire. I guess my 4473s went up in flames.

  3. Not for a registry, but it sure would be an ineresting set of statistics. State X prefers caliber Y during leap years, and so on.

  4. And we wondered why they were soooooo anal about how the form boxes were filled in.
    Today, they could still scan each form, and have terabytes of images just sitting there: no database, just digital pictures of pages. Then, after the right law gets passed, out comes the OCR software and next thing you know, there’s now a working database. A little cleanup and human QC, and now you have an extensive database.

    1. Yeah, but it would only be a database of forms from FFLs who both went out of business AND sent their records in to the ATF. I know that not all have.

      Add to that the more recent instant check info, which I’m sure they keep regardless of what they say officially.

      At the very least there would be big gaps of info. Private Sales for one, which is probably the greatest reason they are pushing to eliminate private sales.

  5. @snoopycomputer – since 4473s are handwritten, OCR won’t do it – ICR (Intelligent Character Recognition) is what you want, and as good as it’s become in recent years it will still have a fairly high error rate.

    The trick is to reconcile that error rate with multiple database lookups to autocorrect the errors. Ex: “Joe Smith” at “123 Main St” zip code “12345” is ICRed as “Jac Snitn” at “128 Noin St” zip “12895.” Pretty useless until the server processors and artificial intelligence software do compares with 12345, 12845, 12395, 12895, etc. for a first name beginning with “I” or “J” and a last name beginning with “S” and a street address of “123” or “128.” State driver license databases, state vehicle registration databases, USPS databases (which is much more valuable than people think – see: “Zip+4+2”), IRS databases, telephone directory databases, and so on, all have those data. Commonly misread characters are well known among OCR/ICR practitioners, as are the misread rates for each character and field filters (name fields won’t have numbers in them, and vice-versa). Set the error correction threshold at a decent point (I’d go for about 96% for post-database compares with multiple databases) and drop the exceptions into a quality control queue for a human to review against the scanned image and manually correct. Double-blind entry those corrections across two clerks (or three, if you want the data to be just about perfect) and you’re done. Once you’ve found – and perfected – the first one, the rest with that name, address, DL#, height, DOB, zip, etc. are pretty easy. IRS scans everything and their final read error rates are really, really close to zero (they have an advantage – it’s mostly numbers, and there are only 10 of those, and on a 1040 math operations are used to verify reads. Alpha characters are harder).

    Given that the 4473s being scanned are from one FFL, zip and address probability can be weighted based on proximity to the FFL’s address. Yes, someone from Pittsburgh can buy a gun from an FFL in Philly, but that will be less common than a buyer who lives in Trevose. Do the easy ones fast, and that frees up processor cycles for the harder ones. Processor cycles are cheap, and so is hard drive space.

    It’s not that big a challenge, which is why the 4473 process is paper-based to begin with; government should never be efficient for this very reason. I, for one, would support a Constitutional amendment prohibiting the use of computers by the federal government; keep everything in paper and make it prohibitively expensive to do data mining.

    A greater worry is the number of FFLs who transcribe 4473 data into their own databases because it’s more convenient, and it gives them mailing lists of their customers. Those FFLs are doing the government’s work for them.

    1. Doh, I always forget about the OCR/ICR difference.
      I love how we have so many highly intelligent people in our community.

  6. The 4473 is already computerized at my local gun store. The computer in the shop fills in your info automatically if you have bought a gun before from them. It prints a 4473 after it asks the questions and then you sign it with all other info entered by the computer.

  7. Another issue that should be pointed out (and hard) at people that suggest such a thing is that there’s already a national firearms database: the Transfer Database for the NFA system.

    It’s laughably and famously inaccurate and nearly worthless – and this is the database for the scary stuff, that the BATFE directly maintains and has always had complete control over.

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