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How to Purge Gun Stocks From Your 401(k)

After mass shootings, a lot of investors are saying enough is enough.

Americans outraged and desolated by the last two weeks of mass shootings have begun taking action to unwind any personal investment they may have in companies that make guns or ammunition.

The mass shootings in Uvalde, Texas, and Buffalo, N.Y., are the most recent examples of horrific violence carried out with virtual impunity by a young man whom authorities had failed to flag well ahead of time.

Now, U.S. investors who have felt helpless in the past are finding ways to yank their investment out of munitions companies.

The money at stake is in the tens of billions of dollars, experts say.

"About 35% of U.S. stock funds include investments in a maker or retailer of guns and ammunition, which adds up to more than $17 billion spread across more than 2,000 funds," CNBC reports.

The primary means of investment for most Americans still remains their retirement accounts, either via a pension or a 401(k).

Usually, those investments stay passive, with most people rarely looking at them or actively moving their investments around.

But with the adoption of almost totally online tools, anyone looking to rearrange their portfolio or remove their money from gun stocks can do so with virtually a few clicks on a keyboard — and at most a phone call.

GE Says No to Gun Shops

Be Prepared To Be Surprised

Wall Street is all tied up in weapons-related companies as reliable moneymakers and diversified options.

So be ready to be shocked by how deeply intertwined even the most familiar household names might be.

CNBC found in 2019 that many name-brand companies like Walmart  (WMT) - Get Walmart Inc. Report, Berkshire Hathaway  (BRK.A) - Get Berkshire Hathaway Inc. Report and Boeing  (BA) - Get The Boeing Company Report have gun holdings exposure.

"A search for a traditional S&P 500 fund, the SPDR S&P 500 ETF, for example, shows that it is exposed to 17 weapons stocks, including 16 with ties to military contractors and one to civilian firearms," CNBC found.

Are You Supporting Weapons Makers?

First, find out if your investment funds are actually putting money into munitions or gun companies.

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TheStreet Recommends

Some helpful sites that can tell you immediately if you own part of a gun company or are part of a fund that does are Weapon Free Funds and BrightScope.

You can see those websites both here and here.

Both can give you a quick outline of what funds hold gun stocks, including ETFs, mutual funds and a variety of other popular investment vehicles.

Vista Outdoors  (VSTO) - Get Vista Outdoor Inc. Report, Sturm Ruger  (RGR) - Get Sturm Ruger & Company Inc. Report and American Outdoor Brands  (AOBC) - Get American Outdoor Brands Corp. Report are some names to keep an eye out for while searching.

Here's How to Take Your Money Out of Gun Companies 

If you want to divest from munitions, gun or ammunitions makers, the first stop is the website of whichever company manages your 401(k).

If you have a pension, the first place would be a call to your pension administrator.

From there, follow these basic steps to divest:

1. Call your fund managers and ask a customer representative to find any stocks or funds you may be holding that invest in weapons or ammunition.

2. Ask to speak to your fund managers, and demand that your money be pulled from any gun- or munitions-linked funds and placed in “socially responsible” mutual fund. 

3. If you want to do this without speaking to someone on the phone, first find the funds you are invested in. 

4. Search those funds for the specific names you found on the earlier Weapon Free Funds or BrightScope. Use your investment manager online tools to move your money into 

5. You can also switch your investment manager entirely to one that is "values-based," like OpenInvest, where you can quickly and easily yank your money out of any fund that earns more than 5% of their revenue from the sales of weapons or ammunition.

Don't Keep Quiet About It

If you feel strongly about removing yourself from investments in these companies, don't forget to let your social networks know.

Share this article, post about your recent moves and let your company's finance and human resources department know that your company is actively investing in gun-related investments.

And don't forget to use some of that newly-saved money to donate to the survivors in Uvalde and Buffalo, both here and here respectively.