You might be invested in guns and not know it – Here’s how to find out

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Oith gun violence making headlines almost daily, some investors are scrutinizing their portfolios in an effort to avoid supporting, even indirectly, the results of gun companies.

Own shares of mutual fund, index funds Where AND Falone or through a retirement account like a 401(k), IRA, or pension, could mean you have at least some exposure to manufacturers or retailers that sell guns and ammunition.

If you want to take a closer look at your portfolio and edit your holdings to exclude companies that make money from guns, here’s what you need to know.

Are there stockpiles of weapons in your 401(k)?

“Chances are you have some exposure to guns in your fund portfolios,” writes Jon Hale, global head of sustainability research at Morningstar, in a recent post. blog post. “For most investors, however, this exposure is almost certain to be minimal.”

There are two gun manufacturers that trade on the public market in the United States: Smith & Wesson Brands and Sturm, Ruger & Co. American Outdoor Brands, the parent company of Smith & Wesson, is also publicly traded under a separate ticker symbol. All three are considered smallcap stock and are included in index funds that track the entire stock market. The Vanguard Total Stock Market Index Fund is an example of one such fund – it holds 1.4 million shares of Smith & Wesson, 501,000 shares of American Outdoor Brands and 518,000 shares of Sturm, Ruger & Co. .

Although these companies may also appear in smallspecific-cap funds, dividend-focused funds and target-date funds that include index funds, Hale says they’re probably not important to your investment returns because they make up such a small portion of assets total of an index fund.

A few other companies that make ammunition – Vista Outdoor and Olin Corporation – are also listed on the US stock market.

This can be more difficult if you want to exclude companies that sell guns from your investments, as one such retailer is Walmart. Walmart is a large-cap stock in the S&P 500, which means it is part of the S&P index funds. Dick’s Sporting Goods is another publicly traded company that sells firearms, although it and Walmart have stopped selling certain types of firearms in the wake of mass shootings in recent years.

How to know if you are exposed to gun stocks

You can read the prospectus associated with any fund you own to find out whether gun or ammunition manufacturers or retailers are included. You may need to dig into your asset manager’s website to find the full document. Arms and ammunition manufacturers are usually listed under the “industrial” category. Gun retailers like Walmart will be listed in a “consumer” category.

How to avoid exposure to gun stocks

It is possible to create a wallet that has no exposure to gun manufacturers or retailers, but it will take some work.

In addition to viewing investor information provided by the funds themselves, you can also explore ESG fund options with your wealth manager. ESG stands for environmental, social and governance factors, and it describes investments that meet certain criteria aside from financial returns – such as whether a fund contains companies that fight climate change or promote certain labor standards or diversity initiatives. Just be aware that defining and evaluating ESG principles is not an exact science, as companies may characterize “responsible” investing differently.

Major asset managers like BlackRock and Vanguard offer ESG funds that exclude gun company stocks, although other funds from these major asset managers may include gun-related stocks. If you’re determined to keep gun exposure out of your wallet, be sure to read the fine print. If your 401(k) plan does not offer a no-firearms exposure option, you can raise the issue with your plan administrator.

And when in doubt, it’s always a good idea to talk to a financial advisor about your investment goals and how you can align your portfolio with your values.


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