A view from Dave Trott: Your money or your life

In the US, between 1968 and 2011, more Americans were killed by gun violence than died in every war America’s ever fought.

That’s 1.4 million against 1.2 million.

So Americans are killing more Americans than all their enemies put together.

Or, to look at it another way.

Between 2001 and 2011, on average 11,385 Americans died each year from gun violence.

During that same period, on average 517 Americans died each year from terrorism.

So Americans are killing twenty times as many Americans as terrorists are.

It doesn’t seem too difficult to work out what the problem is.

But it’s more difficult to work out why guns can’t be controlled.

Why do gun companies have the power to control the government?

Perhaps a clue is in the stock market.

After a recent massacre, Smith & Wesson stock jumped 6.9%, up $1.47 to $22.98 per share.

So the more people get killed, the more people buy guns, the more money the gun manufacturers make.

And as we know, money is power.

So dead Americans are good business for the gun companies.

And everyone is powerless to stop it.

Well not quite.

Because gun manufacturers aren’t the only ones with money.

In the US, fifty-one million people have a 401K.

A 401K is a retirement plan where workers invest part of their wages, tax-free.

Usually they do this through a ‘provider’ who invests that money for them.

But now a very creative movement called "Unload Your 401K" is educating people about these savings schemes.

On their website they ask you to enter the name of your provider.

They will then tell you whether your provider is investing your money in the major gun manufacturers.

Currently over two billion dollars of mutual funds is invested in gun companies.

That’s over half their value.

If everyone with a 401K told their provider not to invest in gun companies the share price of those companies would plummet.

As the website says "Gun companies won’t respond to moral sentiment. But they will respond to economic pain".

So now every American has a choice.

Do they want to profit from gun deaths?

If the answer is no, they can now make sure they have no money invested in gun companies.

It’s that simple: put your money where your mouth is.

For the gun companies it’s all about the money.

Money is the one thing that controls them.

The one thing they will listen to.

Because without money they have no power, no influence.

So costing them money is what will hurt them most.

Now millions of ordinary Americans can use their money to make the gun companies pay attention. 

Which is why "Unload Your 401K" is a great name for a really creative idea.

Dave Trott is the author of Creative Mischief, Predatory Thinking and One Plus One Equals Three

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