While any spike in gun violence may give the impression that purchasing a gun is too simple, selling one can in fact be quite tricky. Indeed, many payment processors prohibit gun sales as part of their terms of service.

TUSC—The Universal Settlement Coin—presents itself as a solution to the specific problems facing gun retailers. The cryptocurrency's mainnet launched at the end of December after several months of testing. In the announcement, the company described its coin as “a gun-centric crypto [designed] to act as a 'continuity of business' payment system for gun retailers.”

In an interview with Decrypt, Rob McNealy, a Salt Lake City-based podcaster and entrepreneur who co-founded TUSC, explained the main problems firearm retailers face when trying to make a sale. For starters, he said, some of have trouble just getting a checking account where they can deposit payments. 

What’s more, third-party payment providers such as PayPal typically bar weapon sales as part of their terms of service, McNealy said. Credit card fees are also higher than normal—between 4 and 6 percent, according to McNearly—because firearms is a high-risk industry. And sales are prone to credit card chargebacks because of the amount of time it takes to fulfil a custom gun order (hence the higher fees).

Why not just use Bitcoin?

After talking to gun retailers and manufacturers, McNealy thought cryptocurrency might provide a way around relying on an unreliable credit card ecosystem—but purposely didn't use Bitcoin for several reasons. Most importantly, he said, "We wanted something fast for retail." With reported three-second blocks and two-second confirmation times, TUSC is a nimbler solution at a time when "Bitcoin has moved away from payments" and "Lightning is not ready for primetime."

And while Roger Ver might be itching right now to show McNealy how to buy cucumbers with BTC in Hong Kong, that hints at another big reason to create a new cryptocurrency rather than just promote an existing payment solution: the gun community itself.

Emphasizing that he spends more time with people in the gun industry than in crypto, McNealy described a cryptocurrency landscape riven with conflict and factionalism. "Some proof-of-work projects, when they have a disagreement, it fractures their communities," he said. "I think it's bad for adoption." 

McNealy and his team instead settled on a delegated proof-of-stake network forked from BitShares 2.0 with on-chain governance so there is an inbuilt way to handle conflict among gun retailers using the network. The result is a custom-built solution for a narrow problem afflicting one industry.

Though TUSC is now in circulation, the team's developers are working on creating payment gateways so that it can become a comprehensive ecosystem—third-party cryptocurrency payment providers like BitPay don't allow firearm purchases either. Already, 15 retailers have committed to joining when the payment gateway is ready, according to McNealy.