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?