Is the entire Federal Registry Comment System vulnerable to machine hacking? At first, glance that seems to be a possibility.
U.S.A. –-(Ammoland.com)- A viewer of my YouTube channels by the name of Wes coded a program that graded comments about the two proposed BATFE rules submitted to the National Registry as “support,” “oppose,” or “neutral.”
The program, which is viewable here, breaks down the comments into categories and breaks the submitted public comments down to each day. The program gives us an insight into the workings of both sides of the debate. The creator, who only wants to be identified as Wes, decided to design the program because he was concerned about the government’s handling of the comments.
“I had several concerns about how the public comments on both of these dockets would be interpreted,” Wes Told AmmoLand News. “I was interested to know if a disproportionate amount of comments that opposed the proposed rule changes would be thrown out as invalid and dig into reasons why that might have happened.”
“I wanted to find out, generally, what the ratio of support to the opposition was in the comments. Most importantly, I wanted to make the breakdown of support to opposition available for people to see so that when the ATF completely discounts opposition to the rule changes, the public comments can’t be mischaracterized as ‘strongly supportive’”
According to the graphs, 163,217 people submitted comments against the new unfinished pistol frames and receiver rules. The government also received 83,243 comments in support of the new proposed regulations.
Looking at the comments, it appears that the overwhelming majority of the submitted comments opposed any new rules regarding unfinished pistol frames and receiver rules.
Comments opposing the new proposed regulations started strong then tapered off, but it picked up and finished strong. There is a clear pattern to the comments opposing new rules in the way you would expect from voting by people over time.
When looking at the comments that support the rule change, we notice something interesting…
Most of those comments supporting the new regulation were uploaded in just five days within a two-week period!?
Some IT experts are afraid that these comments could be from bots since the government’s API allows for uploading comments directly to the National Registry. It shows the dangers of using a digital system for comment periods and voting. Does election 2020 come to mind?
The proposed Brace Rule ended with 177,471 comments opposed to the ATF adopting it. Only 30,820 comments supported the new Brace Rule Regulations. Like we saw with the unfinished frames and receiver rule, we saw over 11,000 comments come in two days towards the end of the ruling. Over 30% of all comments supporting the proposed rule were filed in only two days.
An email blast could explain the surge in the anti-gun gun side by groups like Mom’s Demand Action, Giffords, Everytown, and Brady. Although these emails would cause a bump in support for the new rule, the question is if that would cause such a dramatic short-term increase and why would we not see trailing off of comments in the days following?
The data can be used to determine the effectiveness of outreach efforts of pro-gun organizations. The effectiveness of the campaigns can be determined by matching up the dates of the launch of the campaigns and the increase of comments.
The charts will also allow the gun community to determine if the ATF properly filed the comments. The tool is one of the most valuable tools developed to help the gun rights community.
We more need patriots with technical skills to help watch the watchers, which is precisely what Wes has done.
About John Crump
John is a NRA instructor and a constitutional activist. John has written about firearms, interviewed people of all walks of life, and on the Constitution. John lives in Northern Virginia with his wife and sons and can be followed on Twitter at @crumpyss, or at www.crumpy.com.