Staunch gun control supporters can finally put their retirement money where their hearts are.
A husband-and-wife tech team have launched an easy-to-use website that allows people to check if their retirement funds are invested in the gun industry — from manufacturers like Smith & Wesson to Walmart, the largest firearms sellers in the U.S.
“Hello Money, Goodbye Gun Stocks” launched last week at GoodByeGunStocks.com, and is endorsed by prominent gun control groups like Newtown Action Alliance, New Yorkers Against Gun Violence and the Campaign to Unload. It will be available free for the next 30 days as part of a campaign to educate people about divesting from the gun industry.
To use it, simply plug in the name of your retirement fund and the site will tell you in seconds what percentage of the fund is invested in stocks tied to weapons.
A quick search reveals that Fidelity Advisor Small Cap Fund — a popular, very large mutual fund — invests 1.22% of its portfolio in the gun manufacturer Smith & Wesson.
Keywon Chung (pictured) and Michael Shilman created “Hello Money, Goodbye Gun Stocks.”
The click of a button indicates that dozens of other funds with a similar performance that don’t invest in any gun stocks.
The couple who created the site — Keywon Chung and Michael Shilman — said they were inspired after learning they’d inadvertently invested in the controversial agriculture company Monsanto, which produces genetically modified food.
Chung had donated to a campaign to support farmers in their legal battles with the big company, only to find out she’d been invested in Monsanto through her 401(k).
“That kicked off the conversation,” Shilman said.
“We’re not gun activists by any means, but we’re both horrified by gun violence in the United States,” Michael Shilman said.
The two computer whizzes — Shilman has a Ph.D. in computer science from the University of California, Berkeley, and Chung is a graduate of the MIT Media Lab — chose to focus on gun control for their site after a spate of recent mass shootings.
“We’re not gun activists by any means, but we’re both horrified by gun violence in the United States,” Shilman said.
The entrepreneurs, who run the financial services site Hello Money, analyzed 12,000 funds based on public Securities and Exchange Commission data, and found a whopping $17.3 billion invested in gun-related stocks.
They then used that data to create the Goodbye Gun Stocks app.
“We’re a big supporter of this,” said Leah Barrett, executive director of New Yorkers Against Gun Violence. “It’s very easy to use, and I believe very strongly that individuals who get frustrated with the political system can do things to effect change.”
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