Friday, October 6, 2017

Owning Guns Or Saving for Retirement?

It's Friday, and I'm just starting to feel like things are normal in my life once again.  The tragedy in Las Vegas really hit home for me.  I had two co-workers (teachers) that were at the festival.  Both survived thank-God, but the husband of one of them was shot twice in the leg.  My co-workers have yet to return to school, and we miss them, but obviously want them to take as much time as they need to feel ready to come back.  With 500+ people injured by the terrorist who I shall not name, I'm quite sure many of you know of someone affected closely by this tragedy.

CNBC wrote an article in 2015, immediately following the San Bernardino, CA shooting that took 14 lives, and noted that 31% of Americans own guns.  That figure is probably higher today.  Now here is where it gets interesting.  Gun owners don't buy one gun.  In fact, the average number of firearms owned by a gun owner is 5.  The top 3% of gun owners own more that 25 guns!  In other words, they've bought themselves an arsenal at the expense of other things like...saving for retirement, college for the kids, buying wealth building assets, etc.  It could be that alike the Las Vegas terrorist, these people are themselves multi-millionaires, and have money to burn.

But 5 is still an expensive number.  I believe it too.  You see, I've gone to Las Vegas many times.  My father-in-law once lived there.  My brother-in-law lives there still.  He owns guns.  I've shot these guns with him at two gun ranges in Las Vegas.  Seeing regular people like you and me shooting an AR-15 at a target is a real trip.  Target practice is not cheap.  Bullets are expensive!  And there are people who go to the range almost weekly to shoot.  The ammunition and gun store business is a 3.1 billion dollar industry, raking in nearly 500 million in profit every year.  AMERICANS ARE OBSESSED WITH GUNS!  Especially those living in rural counties.  55% of American rural county residents own guns.

Now a firearm purchase makes sense for some people.  I'm not here to be anti-guns.  I'm here to get people to think whether or not they should be cutting back on their visits to the range, or if buying another firearm is the best financial decision right now for them.

How Much Does It Cost To Own A Firearm

Of course the cost to own a firearm all depends on many factors.  The price of firearms vary widely.  So do the cost to permit them.  I found this great article over at that breaks down costs for different states.  I don't own a gun, but if I wanted to own one here in CA, I'd have to shell out money for the following,

$25 Handgun Safety Certificate
$167 to $187 Handgun permit/license fee
$300 Psychological testing (required in some jurisdictions)
2-year Renewal fee: $100 to $250

$369.99 Mossberg 500 8-shot 12-Gauge Security Pump shotgun (What I'd buy for home security)

With rounds and accessories, I'd be looking at over $1000 to be legal and have the shotgun at home ready to be put to use in the event of a home invasion...a very unlikely scenario for me.  How do people do it?  How do they afford multiple weapons, ammunition, accessories, having to pay for certification and permits, without at the same time compromising some other financial goals?  It's all about priorities, I guess, and for some people, gun ownership ranks higher than saving for retirement, or even college for the kids.  They consider their peace of mind to be priceless.

When my brother-in-law needed to cover his first month's deposit at a better apartment, he legally sold a couple of his pistols.  He kept one or two.  So, guns are not as much of a depreciating asset as are cars, for example, especially if they are kept clean and in proper working condition.

Long Term Costs of Owning a Gun?

Over at, Sam Hoober did an excellent job of breaking down the costs of purchasing a gun (one-time expense) and accessories.  He also extrapolated the costs of gun ownership for someone using their gun for 14-years.  Total cost?  $4,268.  Remember, this is just one gun.  The average is 5!

Another cost to be considered when owning guns is where to store them safely.  For really useful information on what to expect and how much it costs, check out the good and very helpful people at

 Image result for costs of owning a gun

People who buy more than one weapon are obviously firearm hobbyists.  They enjoy partaking in legal gun related activity just like I enjoy cycling on my expensive road bike.  Only difference is I only own one road bike.  Still, I have friends who own multiple ones.  I cannot help but think how much money they're spending on those bikes, and what that money could mean for them if applied differently.  I maintain the same stance when it comes to gun owners going out of their way monetarily to buy multiple weapons.  Why?

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