Divest from Guns: Ethical Investing Guide

Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

This post is written by Sahana Sundar, Soapbox Project community member. You can join our community here.

More about Sahana:

Sahana is a data analyst and writer, who is passionate about creating a peaceful, equitable and sustainable world. Her goal is to engage in activism that feels positive and energizing while being cognizant of the struggles that people are facing everyday.

Hello! 

Thank you so much for taking the time to read this guide. It means a lot. Here is a small collection of resources on ethically investing our money. 

While I made this guide as a response to the mass shooting in Texas, responsible investing can help solve climate change, promote ethical labor practices, uphold values of social justice and so much more. It’s not a magic solution that will fix everything but I think many of us overlook this incredible asset for change. 

I am by no means an expert on the topic but it’s something I have been researching for a few months and I want to share as much as I can with you.

None of this is official financial advice, use these tools and accounts at your own risk.

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What Power do our Investments Have? 

Many of us are pro gun control, climate conscious, passionate about racial and gender equality but unfortunately we aren’t upholding these values with our investments. 

When political action is too slow, overwhelming or inaccessible to us, our dollar is our most powerful vote. This quote below is one of my favorites and a reminder on how powerful our collective wealth truly is. 

Money talks. The largest investors in America aren’t Warren Buffett and Bill Gates; they are retirement funds like CalSTRS, the California State Teachers’ Retirement System pension fund with over $110 billion invested in the stock market. That $110 billion is all school teacher retirement money. Little-guy money. If all of us small investors took our money away from the control of Wall Street pension funds like CalSTRS and invested it individually in what we want to support in the world, those companies without good Missions would either change or die. The long-awaited ethics revolution in corporate America would happen quickly because the stock price follows the money. Take the money out of that stock, the stock price goes down, the CEO gets fired, and the board gets replaced. We’re talking months, not years. That thought gave me a little shiver.

Danielle Town (from the book
Invested)  

Part 1: Divest from Bad Companies (IRAs and individual Brokerage Accounts) 

Option 1: Open an Account with Carbon Collective (Best) 

If you can, create an account or transfer an existing investment account with Carbon Collective. This is an online-only investment platform solely focused on climate change. Their portfolios are comparable in performance with the US stock market. 

I found out about Carbon Collective through Soapbox Project, an amazing newsletter to fight climate change, and was immediately intrigued. But I wanted to know if they were divesting from other bad companies like guns and other weapons, so I sent them an email. To my surprise, they sent me a video response, explaining that they not only exclude weapons they also remove a lot of other bad actors like private prisons and tobacco. 

Carbon Collective has amazing customer service so I’m sure any of your questions will be thoughtfully answered by them.  

This is the best option because the Carbon Collective team takes care of everything for you. You don’t need to figure out who the bad companies are and manually exclude them. They also use your shares to pressure ~80% of the US stock market to decarbonize faster in a way that wouldn’t affect their core business. 

Option 2: Divest from Bad Guy Companies through Direct Indexing 

Divesting From Gun Companies with Your Existing Accounts 

Direct Indexing is when you start with an index (ex: S&P 500) and you manually exclude companies that you don’t want to invest in.

Search “direct indexing” + your brokerage or contact your brokerage to get more details on how to implement this in your investing account. 

If you own individual stocks, double check to make sure you aren’t invested in any companies that don’t align with your values. 

List of Gun Companies & Tickers

 

This list is from Gun Free Funds and includes both gun manufacturers and major gun retailers in the US. 

Company & Ticker Symbol 

Part 2: Ask Your Employer to Provide Better Investing Options (401k or other employer provider accounts) 

Carbon Collective recently rolled out sustainable employer 401ks, so you can ask for a green 401k by emailing your HR head or 401k plan administrator. 


Use this email template to ask for a green 401k Carbon Collective. As mentioned above, Carbon Collective doesn’t invest in arms manufacturers, so implementing Carbon Collective as part of your employer’s 401k plan would be gun free. 

This action toolkit from Gun Free Fund provides tips for talking to a financial advisor and your employer’s HR head/plan administrator to get gun free investing options. 

Part 3: Learn more About Impact Investing 

Here are a few resources to learn more about impact investing.

As You Sow 

For What It’s Worth 

Wallet Activism 

I hope this gave you some guidelines on how to invest your money in accordance with your values. Coupled with meaningful policy action, impact investing can be very powerful. 

Please share this guide with anyone who might find this helpful!

Fight climate change in a way that works for you.

💌 Thinking about sustainability can be overwhelming after a busy workday, so we're here to help. Join over 5,000 other busy people and subscribe to Changeletter, a bite-sized action plan that'll take you 3 minutes or less to read every week.
Thank you! You're signed up for the fight against climate change. Make sure you add us to your contacts or mark our welcome email as important so we stay in your primary inbox instead of your promotions tab.
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form. it's okay; try this!
Headshot of Ash Borkar (a woman with glasses and a cardigan)
"The info is always timely, actionable, and never stale." - Aishwarya Borkar, Change.org
Headshot of Meghan Mehta speaking at Google with a microphone in her hand
"Making social change always felt so overwhelming until I started reading this newsletter." - Meghan Mehta, Google