Are you funding the AR-15 industry without knowing it?

The AR-15 is an American-made, semi-automatic weapon capable of piercing a steel helmet from 500 yards away. During the civilian massacres of Newtown, San Bernardino, Orlando, Las Vegas, Sutherland Springs, and (most recently) Parkland, Florida, the AR-15 was the killing tool of choice. 

With our current gun laws, legal action against AR-15 manufacturers is limited, however, we can take a stance with our capital investments. Today $17.3B is invested in gun & ammo maker/seller stocks via 2,120 mutual funds and ETFs. As our legislative representatives fail to respond with meaningful action, perhaps divestment can effect change.

Earlier this week, Bloomberg Business broke a story that the Florida Teachers' Pension fund was invested in all three of the publicly traded AR-15 manufacturers- American Outdoor Brands, Sturm Ruger, and Vista Outdoors. 

The largest of the fund's gun holdings was 41,129 shares of American Outdoors Brand valued at more than a half-million dollars. You may know American Outdoors Brand better as Massachusetts-based Smith & Wesson. 

The AR-15 used during the Valentine's Day shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School was manufactured by Smith & Wesson. 

I am sure that most of Florida’s public school employees are as sickened as I am to learn that the state has invested some of our pension fund holdings in the maker of the AR-15.
Surely there are better places for the state to invest its public employee retirement money than in companies that make products that harm our children.
— Joanne McCall, President of Florida's Education Association

The Florida Teachers' pension is part of the larger Florida Retirement System (FRS) Pension Plan. Unlike a 401k where participants can choose different plans, the Florida Education Association's pension investments are not customizable to the individual. 

The call for divestment in gun stocks will be an uphill battle for Joanne McCall and her association for the simple reason that nothing ever seems to change with respect to gun laws, even though three of the dead in Parkland were presumed participants in the FRS Pension Plan.

But what about the rest of us? Would you be comfortable knowing that you are an investor in an AR-15 manufacturer through your 401(k) or 403(b) or taxable investment account?

Gun stocks can bleed into portfolios in a number of different ways. Here are a few ways you can identify exposure to gun stocks in your own investment portfolio:

  1. Know the players: 
    • Ruger  (RGR
    • American Outdoors Brand/Smith & Wesson (AOBC)
    • Vista Outdoor (VSTO)
    • Olin (OLN)
  2. Investigate your mutual funds:
    • While you may not own gun stocks in the form of individual equities, you may be exposed through your passive investments
    • Good Bye Gunstocks allows you to search among 12,400 funds to determine exposure to gun stocks.
    • Here are a few of the Good Bye Gunstock team's macro findings:
      • $17.3B is invested in gun & ammo maker/seller stocks via 2,120 mutual funds and ETFs.

      • 35% of US stock funds include gun and ammo maker/seller

      • The top 3 fund companies invested in gun stocks are Vanguard, Fidelity and American

And finally, think about whether you want to support companies that provide special benefits to NRA members at a time when the NRA no longer reflects the will of its membership. The following is courtesy of Think Progress and you will note that a bunch of sponsors have already signaled they are terminating their relationship:


Gray, Sarah. “A Timeline of Gun Control Laws in The U.S.” Time, Time, 22 Feb. 2018,

Mosendz, Polly, and Neil Weinberg. “Florida Teachers Demand Their Retirement Fund Dump Gun Stocks.”, Bloomberg, 22 Feb. 2018

U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Common Core of Data (CCD), "Public Elementary/ Secondary School Universe Survey," 2014–15, Provisional Version 1a, "Local Education Agency Universe Survey," 2014–15, Provisional Version 1a, and "State Nonfiscal Survey of Public Elementary/Secondary Education," 2014–15, Provisional Version 1a.

Florida State Board of Administration.” State Board of Administration - Internet > Home,