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The Fiscal Responsibility of Gun Ownership

When it comes to the subject of gun ownership, we often hear the phrase “responsible gun ownership” thrown around. Seems everyone does it, journalists, politicians, friends, foes but when it’s used it is typically framed around “responsibility” in the sense of people being honest and hardworking gun owners and we don’t tend to focus on the fiscal responsibility of gun ownership. While I hope that most adults understand this subject, this is just as much for the soon to be gun owner who wants to get their first firearm and isn’t necessarily thinking about its importance.

Guns are like watches and other cool items in the sense that it’s really easy to get caught up in the “I gotta have it!” mentality. We’ve all seen that gun that we’ve always wanted, and it’s easy to lose focus about what you can really afford, or to trick yourself into believing you can afford it when you really can’t. Unlike a watch or an iPad, that line of thinking in the context of buying firearms can lead to potentially serious consequences. Here’s a calculation which is used when trying to figure out a watch budget (see below) and it can also be helpful in determining a firearm budget.

If you play around with it, you’ll see how easy it is to get a negative territory answer, all it takes is too much outstanding credit card debt and that leads to the next part.

What You Shouldn’t Do

The first thing you shouldn’t do is clear: never use a high interest credit card to buy firearms. It’s too easy to overpay because you had good intentions of paying it off quickly but 10 months later you are still paying the minimum monthly payment and that Glock you got a smoking deal on will now cost tens or hundreds more.

Similarly, don’t use title loans or early paycheck loans or any other “get money quick” methods because once again, unless you are extremely disciplined financially (and guess what if you are using a title loan to get money you probably aren’t) you are going to overpay for items in the form of interest. That extra cost really matters in more ways than one because if you are spending money on covering interest, you don’t have it to spend in other areas. I could talk about other similar items, but you see where I’m going with this.

What You Should Do

Of course, cash is king. If you can’t afford to pay with cash and not impact your monthly finances, you probably shouldn’t be buying the weapon at that time. No interest credit cards can be a good option as well if you have a new card with an extended period of no interest and you are disciplined financially. Gains from stocks can also be a good way to help finance your gun collection.

I’ve bought several guns recently and technically used zero dollars of my own money to do it (yay stock market). How? I have a margin account so there’s a cash float available to withdrawal on the portfolio since I have good gains and I can use that cash float without having to sell stock and take the capital gains hit. Of course, you pay interest on the margin you use so it’s a risk/reward decision. As long as the gains are good, the interest is being adding to the margin owed and decreasing your unrealized gains, not your core investment money. Bottom line, I have the same money I started with plus gains and a bunch of new guns on hand and more ordered. Yes, life is good.

Why Does It Matter?

Would you buy a Ferrari and leave yourself no money for upkeep, driving lessons, practice time at a track, and other things to help you get the most out of a top of the line machine? Of course not, so why would you buy firearms and leave yourself no money for maintenance, accessories, range time, and training? Here’s why my earlier statement of “that line of thinking in the context of buying firearms can lead to potentially serious consequences” is really important. When you overspend on firearms and put yourself in a tougher financial situation, you start compromising on things like regular gun maintenance and making sure it’s in peak running order, range time, maybe you skip that training class you really needed.

All of those things could potentially put you in a state where you have a weapon that will fail on you, or you end up in a life or death situation where the knowledge you would have gotten in that training class could have helped you and others. Proper maintenance, training, regular practice time at the range, those are all key parts of being a responsible gun owner. If you have a license to conceal carry, it’s even more important because you could put yourself and the public at risk as well if you are untrained, don’t practice and carrying a sub-par weapon.

Owning a firearm is a fun experience but it comes with many levels of responsibility. Start by making sure that before you walk out the door of that gun store, regardless if it’s your first, tenth or hundredth firearm that you really can afford the weapon in your hand.

3 Responses to The Fiscal Responsibility of Gun Ownership

  1. KLD83 April 4, 2013 at 11:55 am #

    Very important. NO matter how you choose to buy your firearms and related items (we buy everything with money we have in hand only or we don’t buy it at all, EVEN if it’s the best deal ever.)I think you must take into consideration a safe or lock box if you are just starting out, in addition to all the other obvious needs like ammo, cleaning items and range time. I think if you take your budget x3 and that would keep you in a reasonable margin. Just my 2 cents!

  2. cj April 4, 2013 at 12:26 pm #

    GREAT perspective. I’m hoping many of those considering their first firearm purchase see this. All too often, I see the request, “I have $350! What gun should I buy?”, completely dismissing the idea of committing any more than their $350 to it. When it’s pointed out that they have no training, no holster, no ammunition, and no free location to practice in…they can’t seem to get past wanting their $350 magic talisman. This breakdown offers some good insight.

  3. Apdl April 4, 2013 at 9:58 pm #

    Where does this eqn come from? I should be spending $17K if done for me and half of the $FE and nearly $40K if you include my wife and our total $FE

    As the urban youth say, “SUPWITDAT?”