Has Gun Ownership Become a Luxury? – Question of the Day

courtesy GQ

The gun geniuses at GQ Magazine are out with a post today that posits the theory that gun ownership in the US has become so expensive as to classify as a luxury.

A gun is a gun, no matter who holds it. NRA spokesperson Dana Loesch is fond of making this point, arguing that firearms act as the “great equalizer,” even among historically marginalized groups. But these statements are aspirational, not descriptive. Gun ownership is less common among African-Americans and Hispanics than whites, and more common among wealthier Americans than poorer ones.

The financial and bureaucratic barriers to gun ownership, explained one California police officer, tend to disadvantage the same people who would supposedly be most empowered by the availability of tools of self-defense. “People don’t live in dangerous neighborhoods by choice—they often can’t afford to live anywhere else,” he said, noting that the task of obtaining a concealed carry permit, which most states require their proverbial Self-Reliant Good Guys with Guns to have, can be a cost-prohibitive one. “Citizens who want to do everything right can’t afford to legally protect themselves.” The cultural proliferation of guns has transformed the “right” of self-defense into a luxury available only to those who can afford it.

Author Jay Willis goes on to detail the costs involved in gun ownership, from buying the gun itself to ammo, accessories, range fees and more.

One gun shop owner estimated that a prospective gun owner, at an absolute minimum, could buy a cheap pistol and a single box of defensive rounds for around $250. But these are half-measures. Becoming a safe, responsible, well-trained gun owner—the kind of person who is ready to exercise their natural right to self-defense to the fullest, whether from a intruder in the home or a mass shooter at the mall—costs well over $1,000. In more expensive markets, if you factor in the time and expense associated with necessary training, that figure could almost double.

There’s no question that gun ownership can be expensive. And in some states and jurisdictions, politicians add to that cost any way they can — particularly if you want to carry a gun legally — as a way of enacting de facto gun control, making exercising the right to keep and bear arms as onerous and expensive as possible.

But we live in a nation of 330 million people with at least 350 million firearms already in civilian hands. With millions more added to that every year.

No one is required to buy a new gun. Used firearms will save you money, work well for decades to come. And while practice and training are always a good idea, let’s face it. Most people buy a gun (or guns) drop it in a drawer and leave it there until, God forbid, they need it.

So yes, as with all consumer goods, the cost of gun ownership disproportionately hits lower income people the most. But has gun ownership really become a luxury that only the wealthy can afford?

comments

  1. avatar Amfivena says:

    In many states, yes it has become a luxury. Which is exactly the intended consequence of most anti-gun laws.

    1. avatar Green Mtn. Boy says:

      Constitutional carry states solve that as our founders and forefathers paid the price.

    2. avatar Jason says:

      “In more expensive markets, if you factor in the time and expense associated with necessary training, that figure could almost double.”

      If in fact it costs potentially as much as $2000, well…

      “…In particular, we study US households’ abilities to come up with $2,000 in 30 days, and we compare their coping ability with that of households in seven other industrialized countries.

      Using this $2,000/30 day metric of financial fragility, we find widespread financial weakness in America: one quarter of Americans report that they certainly could not come up with the funds needed to cope with such a shock within thirty days, and an additional 19% would cope at least in part by selling or pawning possessions or taking payday loans. Adopting a broader definition of financial fragility, we find that almost half of all households report that they certainly not or could probably not come up with funds to deal with an ordinary financial shock of this size. We examine the cross-sectional distribution of financial fragility and we show that it is not just a poor person’s problem: a material fraction of the solidly middle class is pessimistic about their ability to come up with $2,000 in a month.”

      http://www.nber.org/papers/w17072.pdf

    3. avatar Res says:

      It would be interesting to see car ownership or home ownership by household income.

  2. avatar Shire-man says:

    Depends. Back when I lived in a blue state shithole it was $200 for a basic pistol class, $175 for the permit, gun cost varies obviously, $500 for annual range membership.

    Now in a free state it’s $10 for the permit (don’t need one as we have CC), no class requirement and my range charges $75 for the year.

    There’s definitely a disparity with the financial costs. I’d say the highest cost of all is social and legal. Back in the blue state everyone hated me for owning guns and reminded me everyday. Including the cops who harassed me more than once over it. Here it’s rare anybody has an opinion other than positive and the cops are extremely helpful and friendly and will chat you up about guns.

    That said all hobbies cost money whether it’s skateboarding, skiing, shooting, dancing, video games or even jogging.

    1. avatar Bloving says:

      Customer: Why is that gun so cheap?
      Me: Its a Hi-point.
      Customer: Oh… Is it a good gun?
      Me: It is if it’s honestly the best you can afford, it’s not if you can afford better.
      🤠

      1. avatar Chris T from KY says:

        Criminals have “said” the Hi Point is very reliable. In fact they say a Hi Point has never failed them when they left a robbery victim to bleed out.

  3. avatar FedUp says:

    The financial and bureaucratic barriers to gun ownership, explained one California police officer

    Which is good to do to gun owners, but requiring voters to possess free ID cards is an unacceptable burden…

    1. avatar VerendusAudeo says:

      How are ID cards free? What magical fairy land of lies do you live in?

      1. avatar Gun Free School Zones are a crime against humanity says:

        Another human and civil rights denying fascist trying to keep the poor on the ‘plantation’.

  4. avatar Mike says:

    Of course gun ownership is becoming a luxury, and will continue to be more so! We all know the attack on saturday night specials was to target black communities specifically, keeping them from being armed in the face of oppression. Now that tactic is being used wholesale to keep the general populace from gunownership, as part of a multi-faceted attack on our rights. If you cant outright ban, legislate, tax, and increase the cost till its unattainable by all but the select few!

    1. avatar brian says:

      So true.

  5. avatar Bloving says:

    Rich in guns.
    Poor in everything else due to the guns.
    🤠

    1. avatar brian says:

      Don’t I know it.

  6. avatar Green Mtn. Boy says:

    GQ makes the case for cheap Saturday Night Specials,Oh Wait those were bad before the dreaded Assault Weapons replaced it as the firearm da jour to stigmatize as bad. Bottom line there is a price point for every citizen to tool up and while Hi Points take a ribbing they actually function .

  7. avatar little horn says:

    as many will point out, that is the agenda of the powers to be in that state/city. but that is why this “study” was done the way, to tailor the outcome.
    I live in Arkansas, you know what the most popular gun is? Hi-Point. They sell like hot cakes around here. Because they are cheap, and now, somewhat reliable. so all in on a new hi-point and a box of ammo(50ct) and hell lets say a cable lock too, $250 is very doable. But take those exact same items and try to buy them in say NYC and expect that to quadruple.
    So all he has really done here is unpack and confirm the notion that control laws only affect the poor.

    1. avatar Chris T from KY says:

      Why do so many OFWG’s say a Hi Point is “some what” reliable, or not reliable???
      If criminals use them they must work every single time.

  8. avatar Illinois_Minion says:

    Legal ownership costs are escalating – yes.

    Illegal ownership, not as bad. You really think thugs are worried about CCW permits, training, safe storage, etc…?

    1. avatar California Richard says:

      +1 those economically disadvantaged minorities, more often than not, live in areas hostile to gun ownership. People in these liberal Utopias own guns at the same rate as the rest of America. They just illegally own those guns and the Kool-aid drinkers bury their head in the sand with their fake sense of security. The article seems to focus on legal/responsible gun ownership as the only method for possessing a gun.

  9. avatar Adam says:

    Guns and practicing with them is expensive. No doubt about that. Cost is the number one reason I don’t hit the range as often and invested in a SIRT for dry fire practice instead.

    Add to that fact that many states make it impossible for poor people to own guns. I live in Maryland. To purchase a handgun there, you have to take a whole day of classes costing anywhere from 100-200$, pay 50-100$ for fingerprinting, pay 25$ for an upfront background check, pay 50$ for the license, and then pay another 25$ for a background check at purchases. Before you can even pay for the gun, you are 400 dollars down. So buy a 600$ handgun will actually run you 1000$ if you are a first time purchaser in this state.

    Add to the fact that the class/test to purchase has to be done at a gun range, which are not located in the city and not reachable via bus route. If you don’t own a car you are basically screwed if you want to purchase a gun. Not to mention owning a gun doesn’t even serve a purpose in this state cause they give out zero carry permits and will most likely put you in jail if you kill a home invader since the government tends to side with criminals instead of home owners.

    1. avatar brian says:

      Sounds like CT.

      1. Sounds like New Jersey. If you don’t own a car, you can’t own a gun in New Jersey. Can’t take it on the bus, because the gun has to be locked in the trunk, and you have to drive directly from gun store to home, or home to gunsmith, or home to gun club, without making any stops or deviations from the route or it’s a felony. In New Jersey, you can only shoot a gun at registered gun clubs, and if you’re poor, you won’t be able to afford a gun club, because most of them cost about $400 per year for membership.

        I suppose if you don’t own a car, you could take a taxi back and forth to the gun store to buy a gun, or to and from a gun club (if you could afford the membership fees) to shoot it, but considering New Jersey is a rabidly anti-gun state, I don’t think you’d find any taxi drivers willing to take you to a gun store (or gun club, if you could afford it) and let you put your gun in their trunk! Taxi fares aren’t cheap here, either. So what do you do if you’re poor? You give up your 2nd Amendment rights. You don’t give up voting rights (you can walk to the voting booth, or bicycle, or take a bus), but you give up 2nd Amendment gun ownership rights, because you can’t walk home from the gun store with a gun, or take a bus or bicycle with a gun.

    2. avatar Toni says:

      sounds a bit like australia. for every firearm i have i have scrimped and saved. pre NFA it was a hell of a lot easier. BTW if i had the opportunity to move to the US i would not move to a blue state, in fact even the red state i moved to i would pick carefully

    3. avatar Wzrd says:

      *Marxland
      FIFY

  10. avatar ANG Pilot says:

    In the words of Andrew Breitbart, “So?”

    I guess GQ is implying that gun ownership is another facet of “White Privilege” and therefore should be restricted to make everyone more “equal?”

    Very creative reasoning.

    1. avatar Bloving says:

      I’m not so sure.
      I read the entire article and kinda got the feeling they were making the case that if you’re poor you don’t get the same Constitutional Rights as a more wealthy American… and if we allow ourselves to be so cynical, they’re not wrong in that regard.
      🤠

  11. avatar TheOtherDavid says:

    Sorry, GQ lost me when I noticed they changed the data sets across the X axis for their bar chart to make some ownership differences look more dramatic.

    Some bars represent a $10,000 step, others 15,000, others 20,000.

    My stats teachers would be all over that.

    1. avatar Cooter E Lee says:

      Don’t ignore the y axis. See how it only goes from 0 to 60%? That’s a mental thing to make the difference look bigger.

      I wish I could show that graph same height x width with 100%, the ratio between different incomes would be less height difference.

  12. avatar Armed Partisan says:

    Having the right to freedom of speech is not the same as having your own cable news show, or 500k YouTube subscribers. The Bill of Rights are your natural and civil rights which cannot be lawfully denied you, not guarantees that you will be provided first-class tools, training, and accoutrements.

    I have always told new shooters to buy a quality handgun as soon as they can afford it and are able to lawfully do so; then get a simple reloading set up, police up brass at the range (if allowed), and learn how to safely reload. The best way to master the basics is having the ability to put rounds down range without losing the ability to pay your bills. Don’t get a CWP until you can afford to practice; if you can’t afford ammo, you really can’t afford lawyers. You can thank politicians for making this all so expensive.

  13. avatar CalGunsMD says:

    Wow. What a despicable attempt at class politics….

    1. avatar Pg2 says:

      Yep. It’s racist and socially unjust for privileged whites to own firearms.

  14. avatar Dev says:

    Gun ownership is less common among b minorities because they generally live in cities that restrict their ability to own guns. But no one likes to mention that particular oppression.

  15. avatar Matt says:

    The original article confuses me. I feel like there is an anti-gun twist, but I don’t see it. The last sentence seems like an underhanded jab at gun owners, but its not our fault that anti politicians have made it hard for the poor to obtain firearms.

    Get rid of gun regulations and add gun safety classes as a requirement for high school graduation. An inexpensive pistol is cheaper than most cell phones, or any number of other non essential items that everyone seems to have, rich or poor.

    1. avatar Geoff PR says:

      “Get rid of gun regulations and add gun safety classes as a requirement for high school graduation.”

      Start gun safety education in Kindergarten.

      “If you see a gun when out playing, DON’t TOUCH IT! RUN AWAY!…”

  16. avatar Elijah Decker says:

    In California, the $25 dealer record of sale fee, $25 firearms safety certificate fee, sales tax, and everything just being more expensive in this state can double the take home cost of a Hi-Point. Doesn’t seem to impede the gangs in LA though.

  17. avatar Ozzallos says:

    All of these people have cellphones and monthly cable bills.
    We’re done here.

  18. avatar Joe R. says:

    FOR ONCE, GQ is right.

    TIME TO FUCKING SHIT-CAN THE POST 1986 FULL-AUTO BAN.

    The “rich” MFrs aren’t (necessarily) any better or dependable citizens than the rest of us and shouldn’t get any greater right to a parity of arms with our government.

    Nor all of the fun.

    Very good GQ, now STFU. Someone took away your 1st Amendment right long ago and I don’t remember giving it back.

  19. avatar Ed Rogers says:

    I tuned out when I read “GQ”. They’re STILL in business?!

  20. avatar Kendahl says:

    You can buy a decent, used shotgun off Armslist for $150. A box of buckshot shells is $10. The cost of compliance with regulations depends on where you live. It’s shooting that’s expensive.

  21. avatar W says:

    “Gun ownership is less common among African-Americans and Hispanics than whites, and more common among wealthier Americans than poorer ones.”

    Correlation does not equal causation. Pretty much most analysts understand this.

    GQ has become such a rag. Keith Olbermann, Van Jones. The NRA is a terrorist organization. Swearing at Betsy DeVos n Twitter. Nathaniel Friedman saying that he’d like to beat the mother of a Benghazi attack victim to death. A hate taboid for progressives.

  22. avatar barnbwt says:

    Maybe if Uncle Sugar subsidized guns like he does everything else, the poors could afford to partake.

    But that’s kind if the point behind expensive licensing schemes, isn’t it?

  23. avatar ironicatbest says:

    We think of the Old West as everybody totin guns, actually not that many cowboys had a pistol, couldn’t afford them.

    1. avatar Gun Free School Zones are a crime against humanity says:

      It’s safe to say that most folks in the old west had a shotgun or rifle. And according to the Records kept by Sears the small .22, .32, .38 caliber low cost handguns of the ‘Bulldog” persuasion were very popular in the west. They were the Hi Points of their time.

      Then as now you had top tier handguns like Colts, S&W, Remington. And then you had what 90% of the working folks had. Cheaper, non brand name guns shipped by the crate. Or cap and ball revolvers left over from the war, some converted to cartridge and some not.

  24. avatar oliver says:

    Well, Im sure that bar graph would rise towards the right regardless of the commodity,luxury or not ie first aid kits, tire inflators, a good pair of hiking boots, laptops, food, etc. The more money you have the more crap you can buy. Also, in general, you tend to be more intelligent, therefore you will also more likely invest in essential items for future preparedness.

  25. avatar Garrison Hall says:

    I dunno, buying guns, stocking up on ammo, and a dramatic increase in NRA membership is a pretty good indication of where a significant number of Americans stand on the issue of gun-ownership. People Of The Gun are not a social movement and so our lack of massive parades and protests is not an indication of political presence. Since Sandy Hook, America has been arming itself. Where gun-controllers have to depend on public dramas to establish moral imperatives that don’t exist, People Of The Gun simply defend gun-rights and the 2nd amendment. These are two different things.

  26. avatar Jross says:

    In some states it definitely is a luxury.

    Cost me $44 last time for a single range trip. Fees + their ammo + their targets. Only 50 shots total. Almost a buck a shot.

    That was the closest most sensible range too.

    I’m pretty sure if I sat down and figured everything out like membership + range that’s close enough + let’s me use my own ammo I can get it cheaper. But the thing is it’s going to be pretty spendy no matter what. The only possible way to get it cheap enough for my liking is to get out of the city…which if I did I’d then have the whole issue about finding work.

    So yeah I’d say that qualifies as a luxury. One I’m totally willing to pay for but still a luxury.

    1. avatar Jedi Wombat says:

      What? The range make you shoot their ammo in YOUR gun? Not a rental from them, but your own? I have never heard of that, although I only go to a few local ranges here in NC. I get no AP, and some ranges dont like steel case, but you have to buy their ammo? Man, that sucks. What if you are zeroing a rifle for a specific load? Or trying to see how your new box of SD ammo feeds and shoots? Sorry your local ranges are like that.

  27. avatar Jon says:

    If a $450 handgun + $50 per month for ammo is a luxury, then a $450 cell phone + $50 per month for data must also be a luxury.

  28. avatar MarkPA says:

    So, what could we conceivably do about this?

    In the most restrictive States, the largest barriers are set by government; e.g., permitting fees.
    In the less restrictive States, the costs-of-entry are somewhat within our control.

    In a Permit-Required State those of us who are NRA instructors could offer a free or heavily-discounted training class to students who reside in specified neighborhoods. (Or, find some other screen; e.g., showing an EBT card.) Offer the class on a day or a time when it isn’t feasible to teach paying students.

    A gun range could offer free or heavily-discounted range time during hours when they have little patronage. Again, screen by selected neighborhoods, EBT card, etc.

    A gun range could offer free/discounted rental for a .22 calibre revolver or semi-auto with a manual-of-arms similar to popular and low-priced handguns in center-fire makes/models. The idea here is that a customer with limited means could build and maintain proficiency with cheap .22 ammo using a rental gun similar to the gun they could afford to buy.

    Most of us need to make a living; so, I wouldn’t expect trainers or ranges to give-away something they could sell at list price. So, having some screen or limitation is needed to try to balance the concern for promoting gun-ownership with the concern for conserving the market for revenue-producers. If a clever program can work it’s apt to generate incidental revenue. A friend or relative who wouldn’t qualify for the free-bee is apt to patronize the business that introduced the needy student to the arms-keeping/-bearing community.

    1. avatar Geoff PR says:

      Their community churches could step up for the training.

      Plenty of members with military backgrounds…

  29. avatar Red in CO says:

    Wait, but I thought we were all hicks with single digit IQs who lived in trailers? Also, I take issue with the GQ writerss apparent assumption that formal training is necessary. If you can have someone teach you the basic fundamentals of marksmanship then you can practice that on your own. Same for more advanced, dynamic techniques like shooting on the move or quickly drawing and firing*

    *I suppose this isn’t true if you live in a city and have to shoot at an indoor range with lawsuit-conscious RSOs, though why anybody would subject themselves to that is beyond me

    1. avatar Geoff PR says:

      “Wait, but I thought we were all hicks with single digit IQs who lived in trailers?”

      …and low two-digit IQs…

  30. avatar Indiana Tom says:

    Gun ownership is less common among African-Americans and Hispanics than whites,
    Well, at least owning one legally.
    and more common among wealthier Americans than poorer ones.
    Well, at least legally.

  31. avatar Indiana Tom says:

    If people really want a gun they could buy one in free states.
    How much does a Maverick shotgun cost? or a Chinese clone?
    I never said they would be expert skeet shooters with it.

  32. avatar James says:

    I don’t understand what this article even about or what it’s tryn to say! What bout blacks in the inner cities armed to the teeth! Or how bout gangs like ms13 armed to the teeth!? What the hell are we talkn bout here?

  33. avatar Pg2 says:

    Have they used the “selfish” attack on gun owners yet?

  34. avatar Kyle says:

    So you mean as you drive up the cost to purchase, retain, and or carry a gun with excessive regulation, taxation, and just plain old higher prices, the poor can’t buy a gun?

    ….who knew.

  35. avatar Pete says:

    One of the early gun control measures was a ban on cheap handguns or Saturday Night Specials as they were called. Many of the low end gun manufacturers were forced out of business by a combination of new laws and lawfare.
    Of course, this disproportionately disarmed the poor minorities.
    Not a bug, but a feature.

  36. avatar drunkEODguy says:

    so, what I read here is that in states that put up restrictive laws and expensive licensing costs as entry barriers to gun ownership and CCL cause guns to disproportionally be out of reach of poor and minority demographics. So gun control is racist? Weird.

  37. avatar borg says:

    Deerfield, ILLINOIS bans assault weapons but instead of confiscating they charge a maximum fine of $1000 per day. A full year worth of fines would be $365,000 which means that only the rich would be able to afford to do so which makes it an expensive privilege for the elites.

  38. avatar Vermonster says:

    This is why Hi Point and various sub-500 ARs are common and even popular. They are aren’t great, but they get the job done reliabily enough. Like a hayundai. Or hunting with FMJ- only a fool wants to, but sometimes that is how you eat.

    Isn’t there something in the New Testament along the lines of “he who hath no sword should sell his fine cloak and buy one”? As a sometimes poor, Jewish redneck (yes, we exist), i absolutely agree, you go without something to defend yourself. That is the difference between being poor and being owned, and personal arms keep you out of box cars to nice camps.

    1. avatar Toni says:

      yes agree. it is Luke 22:36 “Then said he unto them, But now, he that hath a purse, let him take it, and likewise his scrip: and he that hath no sword, let him sell his garment, and buy one.”
      at that time a sword was the major personal defensive weapon of the time. if they had guns back then the word used would have been a gun.
      being able to defend yourself from any attacker be it a common street thug or tyrannical govt paid thugs is a right. if you have done nothing actually unlawful (as opposed to illegal) then the govt has no de-jure cause to send their thugs to take you in in the first place. unlawful crimes are crimes where someone has been harmed be it theft, murder etc. another-words the bare basic laws that the US started with

  39. avatar Chris T from KY says:

    Hi points are reliable. Yes they are heavy. Yes they are bulky. They are not the best for CCW. Unless you are wearing oversized pants, which many criminals do wear. In that case a Hi Point is easy to conceal. Even criminals know that have to dress around their gun.

    The red ball company makes 20 round magazines for both the 9mm and 45 caliber HI Points.
    My HI Point JHP 45 works just fine at the $150 cost.
    However anyone can buy a Heritage Rough Rider six shooter for around $140, in 22 caliber. It also comes in 22 magnum. A Sccy pistol is less than $200. Are they junk as well????

    If criminals use high points to rob and murder people then I would say the Hi Point is a gun that anyone could rely on as well.

  40. avatar Steve says:

    CA cop quoted. Yeah… in CA the STATE makes gun ownership expensive, not the retailers. CA’s gun laws and imposed restrictions take lots more money than other states. Look in the mirror, CA police officer. Who did YOU vote for?

  41. avatar Eddie Hubbard says:

    That is the exact wording of the 2nd amendment that gives us the legalization to own & carry a firearm without all the BS from the states. That’s my permit. It’s all the politicians & lawyers that have made it cost to carry a firearm. They have twisted the words of the law (2 amendment ) to make money, the greedy bastards. Just to try & control the people as much as they possibly can.

  42. avatar Mikial says:

    Guess the Liberal idiots writing the fake articles never heard of $120 shotguns, or $250-350 police trade-in Beretta and Glock pistols, or even $150 Hi-Points. Reliable ammo and guns are less expensive today than they were 20 years ago. The reality is that the Liberals have tried over and over to prevent low income families from being able to defend themselves with every tactic imaginable form high taxes and repressive laws to own a gun, to trying to forbid folks living in subsidized housing from owning guns.

    They really just don’t want any criminals to get hurt while committing a felony. After all, their families make up the Democrat voting base.

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