I keep reading horrific stories about random people walking into schools, theaters and other public venues to shoot everyone there. Every time I read one, two things strike me: the fact that they tend to happen mostly in the US and that most of the shooters tend to name issues of bullying, shunning and isolation that happen everywhere in the world. There are psychopaths and sociopaths everywhere, but not all of them go shooting into schools. When the conversation gets to this point usually the Second Amendment and how easy it is to get a gun in the US is pointed out, and then it just goes on and on with those in favor and against said law. For the sake of argument, in this post, I’m assuming that the law is not going to be changed and that Americans will keep their right to bear arms.
So, first of all we know that getting a weapon in the US is arguably easy, in some states places like Wal-Mart sell guns and ammo. But wee also know that in order to carry a weapon legally, there’s extensive paperwork to be filled out. I know the FBI can access this info in a centralized database, so this means that it is kept in a record somewhere, most likely digital.
Also, stores like Target have been getting smart at identifying their costumer’s shopping habits, since every time a person goes shopping willingly or not, they share information about their consumption patterns with retailers. Retailers have begun studying these details to try to figure out what shoppers like, need, want and what kind of promotions and coupons would satisfy them. Target even figured out a way to identify parents-to-be and had a big blow-out when they knew a teenager was pregnant even before her parents did. This same logic and technology can be used to save lives.
I’m guessing Target developed an algorithm that identifies certain patterns that indicate when a woman is pregnant, a similar algorithm can be created to identify if a person is buying ammo and guns for questionable reasons. Yes, stores will need to share information between them and gun control information would have to be shared with retailers; also, a policy would have to be put in place that keeps individuals from buying ammo without showing ID, which would trigger a process of shopping histories. If a certain individual buys too much ammo in any given period of time, without, at the same time, showing patterns that indicate recreational or defense activities, the police can look into it right away, the program can trigger an alarm automatically. Fooling these systems is possible, yet quite hard, specially if consumption pattern info is used on suspicious subjects.
I’ve been working in tech for a while now, so I know developing such algorithm, as well as the necessary technology is not too hard. The logistics that would make it work successfully are much more complex, but I wholeheartedly believe that this would save lives.