The perennial threats to individual liberty are the government, and as of late, big business, especially the financial sector. Most corporations take a dim view on individual rights, unless the specific right in in question benefits them, and often they will engage in crony capitalism to further strengthen their market position using state violence. So, it’s little wonder the banks, being the behemoths they are, take a dim view on armed citizens and Second Amendment Radicals. We can say “no” to their bureaucratic nonsense, after all.
Their angle of return fire, of course, is to freeze our businesses out of the financial systems as a whole. Firearms companies big and small have felt the wrath of “woke-minded” banks, with institutions such as Chase and Bank Of America being the biggest offenders. In the face of such opposition, what is a liberty-minded Second Amendment Radical and armed citizen to do?
Yes, crypto. Bitcoin, Ethereum, Dogecoin, Monero, TUSC, pick your coin, it’s of course the rage in popular financial culture. With coins focused on privacy and peer-to-peer payments outside of the scope of government and big bank oversight, what’s not to love, especially to a liberty-minded Second Amendment Radical?
But, before you turn that hamsterwheel generator, mine some coin, and buy an AR-15 with Bitcoin from a liberty-minded firearms retailer using crypto, there’s a lot you’ll need to be aware of. Guns and cryptocurrency can be a tricky business.
Since it’s a pop-culture touchstone, and a controversial one at that, there’s a lot of misconceptions surrounding cryptocurrency. Go into it blindly, you can lose everything, and potentially face legal consequences as well.
It’s common for those who write about crypto to cite their holdings in order to be fair about their biases, etc. So, in that spirit, I’ll say right now that I hold amounts of Bitcoin, Ethereum, Stellar, Telcoin, MATIC, Filecoin, Minds, and some minor shitcoins. Not that it matters in this case since this is a gun blog, but there you have it.
Secondly, don’t treat anything I say as investment advice. I’ve worked in crypto, having helped construct what was then one of the largest Bitcoin mines on the planet, but I’m no financial whiz. Do your own research.
It helps to know what cryptocurrency is, to start. From Wikipedia:
Cryptocurrency is a digital asset designed to work as a medium of exchange wherein individual coin ownership records are stored in a ledger existing in a form of a computerized database using strong cryptography to secure transaction records, to control the creation of additional coins, and to verify the transfer of coin ownership.
Basically, cryptocurrency is digital money not controlled (usually) by any central authority. Transactions and wallet amounts are tracked on a public secure ledger called a blockchain. Cryptocurrencies have value because enough people at a given moment agree it has value. There’s usually nothing backing it up other than consensus.
Government fiat (currency issued by the government) like the dollar has nothing backing it up other than enforced consensus, aka State violence. The dollar is worth a dollar because the government says so, or else.
Sure, one can legally turn down the dollar, but through hook and crook, the government makes it damn difficult to live outside of their nickel. That’s why crypto scares them, I guess. By rejecting their money, you are basically taking the ultimate step of rejecting them entirely. You no longer have faith in their system.
Anyways – in a nutshell, cryptocurrencies exist in the same manner as government fiat (zeroes and ones at this point) but it’s all harmonious consensus amongst people, rather than a byzantine framework of laws and vague threats.
Right now, the financial systems of the United States and most other nations around the planet are pretty centralized. A system of government-owned and private banks, federal reserves, and other machinations establish a common currency in a given jurisdiction, with some currencies such as the US Dollar even enjoying acceptance as a viable medium of exchange outside the borders of their native land. In general, with government fiat, it’s the coin of the realm. People spend and accept it without much thought.
However, it’s all mostly digital now. When you use you credit card or bank card to purchase a can of Bang Energy at the gas station, or a GLOCK pistol from your favorite firearms retailer, no actual currency is being exchanged. A truck doesn’t bring cash from your bank to the FFL’s bank at some point. What happens is that computers in the banking system debit your account X dollars and credit the account of the FFL X dollars (minus some fees of course to the bank) – again, no actual cash gets moved around really.
The bank is an institution, a business, that you pay to keep track of and secure your money. In times of old it meant the bank kept cash on hand with your name on it. If you deposited $10,000 at the local First Bank of Anytown, you could go back tomorrow and withdraw it all. Of course, as times passed and populations increased, it became impractical and unsafe for banks to hold untold millions of dollars for each depositor. Right now, your local bank only holds enough cash to service a percentage of it’s depositors, and if more is required they’ll need to request it from somewhere else, usually the “mothership” bank if it’s a branch of a big bank, or from the Federal Reserve itself.
I’m grossly oversimplifying here. Sorry.
Anyways, the danger here was that if everyone tried to withdraw their money, aka a run on the bank, the bank couldn’t cover it all. Which still holds true today. Your local bank cannot cover everyone in town. However, banks can suspend cash withdrawals if they feel a run is possible – most nations have laws which allow banks to do this, specifically to prevent a run. FYI – if there’s ever an unexpected bank holiday, things are gonna get really bad after that.
So, the banks encourage cashless transactions, via debit cards, credit cards, wire transfers, and so on. It’s all digital.
And therein lies the choke point.
The bank is usually notionally a private entity. They can choose with whom they do business with and can cease doing business with you at any time, for whatever reason. For the purposes of this article, from here on out, “bank” will refer to any part of the modern financial system, including credit card processors, clearinghouses, and the like.
Anyways – the bank can return your money in the form of cash or a check, and kick you out. Libertarians will argue they have the right to do so, as private businesses.
Sidebar: A branch of libertarian thought called Loompanics argues that businesses are in fact part of the government since they exist only with the blessing of the government through licensing, incorporation, etc. It’s a good argument actually. Banks are especially subject to this argument since they only exist to dole out government fiat. More on that another time.
Banks used to freeze out customers only if they were engaged in criminal conduct or suspected of doing as such. Gun companies aren’t usually engaged in criminal conduct. They produce and sell their wares in one of the most heavily-regulated environments on the planet. Yet, since the woke brigade, and the government, demand certain things, the banks have taken it upon themselves to be the modern day financial scolds and harridans. Hell, there’s serious legislative proposals that transactions occurring at firearms-related businesses be reported to the government.
The threat from big banking is as real as the threat to our rights from big government.
This is where cryptocurrencies come in. As a peer-to-peer method of exchange, with no ostensible centralized chokepoints (we’ll dive into the specifics in a moment), crypto generally bypasses all big financial controls. Secure and independently verifiable, cryptocurrency has a lot in common with cash and even barter-based transactions. I give you currency, you give me gun. Direct, no BS.
Of course, no technology is perfect. There’s pros and cons to using cryptocurrency to buy guns
Love it or hate it, cryptocurrency and the blockchains are here to stay. It’s actually pretty likely you’ve used some sort of blockchain product, and you didn’t even know it. If not, it’s easy – you can listen to my podcast over on LBRY, which is a blockchain-based media host. Using the Odysee app and front-end website, you can listen to my podcast in all it’s glory. Boom, blockchain.
Anyways, the pros of using cryptocurrencies to purchase firearms are pretty obvious.
No central banks or processors to choke off, restrict, or report transactions. Yes, there are the wallets and exchanges which can and are monitored, but peer-to-peer payments in most common cryptocurrencies is possible. In a broad sense, it’s unstoppable.
Certain coins are anonymous and private. Conventional credit and debit transactions are pretty much a pseudo-registry. They can’t tell what gun you got, but a $600 purchase from Bob’s Firearms LLC is probably a gun. With crypto, it’s peer-to-peer, so the transaction could be anything between anyone.
Verifiable. The blockchain acts as an immutable ledger. While identifying the participants in a transaction is debatably difficult, the transaction itself can be viewed by anyone on a blockchain explorer.
Cryptocurrency is surrounded by a lot of hype, myths, and outright falsehoods. Not knowing the downfalls can lead to loss of money, or worse.
Transaction times. First-gen cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin are not really suitable for daily use. While yes, you can buy that AR-15 with Bitcoin, you’re going to have to wait for the transaction to confirm, which usually takes about 30 minutes, which is the time your transaction is confirmed to 3 blocks in the blockchain. Whether you purchase that rifle online or in person, you’re gonna have to wait to see if it went through.
Without getting too in-depth, cryptocurrency transactions often include fees on top of the cost of whatever is being transacted. In the Bitcoin realm it’s just called a “fee”, wherein the Ethereum realm, it’s called “gas”. Whatever the name, you’re paying a cost to transact. And sometimes it’s ridiculously high depending on network congestion. The fees go to stakeholders in a crypto project, or in the case of mineable coins like Bitcoin, the people that own the mining hardware. Some wallets minimize the fees by batching payments, but you’re still going to pay the toll in some form. If you aren’t careful, you could end up paying way more for that GLOCK or AK-style rifle than if you just paid cash.
Errors can be a disaster. Your crypto wallet has an address such as 36wKfH7wgQQna6BByvAe8oiEmdqREUXuYQ (a Bitcoin wallet) and while of course copy-paste is a thing, one wrong move and your transaction is going somewhere else. You won’t get it back, either. The exchanges or wallet companies can’t help.
“Crypto” means the transactions are secured by a cryptographic function, not necessarily that the transaction is anonymous. Bitcoin is not private, really. Especially if you use a major wallet like Coinbase. You might think you’re being sneaky, but remember that the Bitcoin blockchain is public info, and it’s not terribly difficult to use basic tools to map out transactions. Furthermore, the big exchanges such as Coinbase have KYC (know-your-customer) policies. If it’s suspected you’re using crypto for illegal transactions, Coinbase will be contacted and obligated to turn over any info they have on you. Also Coinbase reports most of their customer’s holdings to the IRS. Privacy coins such as Monero work around this, but aren’t as widely accepted.
Crypto changes value, wildly. Say you pay 0.017 BTC for a pistol. That’s about $700 as of this writing. Tomorrow, 0.017 BTC could be $900. Or it could be $200. You may have overpaid for that gun, or underpaid. Someone in the transaction is losing out. The workaround is to convert to government fiat right away after a transaction, but there’s fees involved, and the seller could still be on the losing end. If Elon opens his yap at the wrong time, it’s even worse.
If someone cooks off an EMP and the lights go out, cryptocurrencies, and a lot of other things, become pointless. If you’re an FFL accepting crypto for guns, you’ve just lost, a lot. But then again if this happens, I don’t think your crypto vanishing will be a priority.
Despite the long list of downsides, it’s possible, doable, and sometimes even recommended that one purchase a pistol or a shiny black rifle using cryptocurrency. Hell, for real liberty points, use crypto to purchase a 3D printer, and print a gun you downloaded the files for off of the blockchain. However, the whole crypto universe is still very much a “beta” thing.
For now, I suspect most of you all will simply pay for your guns using government fiat. And that’s fine. Love it or hate it, the dollar is the coin of the realm, and we’re far from the point where getting the dollar out of our lives is possible. However, I encourage all us Second Amendment Radicals and armed citizens to get into cryptocurrency. Our participation enables and encourages innovations in the sector, especially where transaction speeds and privacy factor in.
What’s needed for mass acceptance in our community – a cryptocurrency would have to be:
Private. It should not be easy for random viewers of the blockchain in question to identify the originators or recipients of a transaction.
Fast. Transaction times should be on par or nearly on par with conventional credit card transaction speeds.
Easy to use. If it’s more complicated than a credit card or Apple Pay, people are just going to use their cards or cash.
Reasonable fees. Yes, stakeholders in a given coin will want to be paid for their investment. That’s how it works. But wildly variable fees are going to scare people and kill mass adoption.
Right now, we’re seeing some encouraging movement in this direction. Projects like the very 2A-friendly TUSC have been making inroads and gaining traction in the crypto scene.
However, projects like TUSC can’t do it unless we participate. As liberty-loving and stubbornly independent individuals, we should be all jumping headlong into cryptocurrency. Of course, do your research – treat crypto like a stock investment, basically.
With our widespread support and usage, cryptocurrencies will evolve and develop into fundamentally usable forms of currency for daily use. I do hope for and envision a day where cryptocurrencies, potentially an evolved form of TUSC or something similar, exist alongside or even supplant conventional government fiat.
Cryptocurrency and the right to keep and bear arms – it just makes sense.
Oh, and if for some reason you’re into crypto and support gun control, you’re missing the whole point of crypto. I decided.
As I said above, I’ve worked in cryptocurrency, and currently hold Bitcoin, Ethereum, Stellar, Telcoin, MATIC, Filecoin, Minds, and some minor shitcoins. I spoke warmly of TUSC but have not gotten around to investing in it yet. Laziness basically.
However, none of this is binding financial or legal advice. Do your own research and invest based on your findings. In terms of taxation, etc – consult a financial professional.
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