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Credit Cards and Guns

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Dirty MoneyCredit cards and guns – what do the two of them have in common? A lot more than people think. Both are powerful and useful tools that can provide a valuable service. And both can be abused with devastating results.

Credit cards and guns both have positive and negative aspects about them, but ultimately, the outcome of their use has one striking similarity – it is reliant upon the user’s actions.

Why Credit Cards and Guns are good:

  • Guns: Guns are used by police officers to protect society and also useful for hunting, sport, protection, military uses, collecting, etc. Did you know target shooting is an Olympic sport? There are many other positive aspects to guns and gun ownership. I’m sure any card carrying member of the NRA can give a dozen more useful benefits at will.
  • Credit Cards: There are many benefits to using credit cards: building credit, fraud/theft protection, rewards, convenience, car rentals, and many more. Here are 10 reasons why credit cards are good. Personally, I think that used properly, credit cards are a wonderful thing.

Why Credit Cards and Guns are bad: Misuse.

  • Guns: Misusing a gun is the absolute worst thing anyone can do with it. Guns have many positive uses but there are many people out there that are doing their best to give guns a bad name. Gang members, drug dealers, thieves, and other criminals have used this tool with devastating results. Guns should be treated with caution and with respect. And please don’t make the argument that guns kill people. People kill people.
  • Credit Cards: Just like the fact that guns don’t kill people, credit cards don’t put people into debt. People put people into debt. Just like guns, people have misused credit cards to the point that credit cards have become a four letter word in some households. Like guns, credit cards should be treated with caution and respect.

The Link Between Credit Cards and Guns: Credit Cards

I think we see a theme here. Misuse. Guns and credit cards are inherently good things if used properly. But the minute you begin to misuse them, devastating results can and will happen. The only difference between misusing guns and credit cards is that the results of misusing a gun can often lead to death. Credit card misuse may not kill people, but it is not a stretch to say that massive debt from misusing credit cards can ruin a life.

My Stance on Credit Cards and Guns:

For the record, I am not a card carrying member of the NRA, nor do I own a gun. I have no need for a gun. I was, however, in the military, and I am familiar with gun safety and proper use. I respect their usefulness and their power.

I have a credit card that I use for most purchases and I pay it off in full every month. For me, the benefits I outlined earlier far outweigh any negative side effects of using plastic. I stress, this is for my personal financial situation. Each person needs to do what is best for their own situation.

In the case of both guns and credit cards, I believed that used properly, they both have their place and are necessary in our society.

Controversial?

Maybe. There are people who are passionate about both guns and credit cards, either for or against. I understand that people feel strongly about both topics and I welcome comments.

Note: There is no political agenda for this article. I believe that ultimately, people are responsible for their actions – both good and bad. It is your duty to be educated and understand how to use tools such as guns or credit cards properly.

photo credit: atroszko (gun) and LotusHead (credit cards).


Published or updated August 31, 2009.
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{ 19 comments… read them below or add one }

1 plonkee

In the UK, guns are not commonly used by the Police and I feel extremely uncomfortable if I see anyone (fortunately always police or armed forces) with a gun. I can’t mentally relate them to credit cards at all. In much the same way that I can’t relate bombs and credit cards.

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2 Andy2

Nice article. I completely agree. Guns just have more extreme consequences. When guns are used for good, it is very very good, but when they are not, the consequnces are very very bad.

plonkee – I know in the UK guns are not common and I can understand feeling comfortable if you don’t have experience with them. But, as a suggestion, if you ever get the opportunity to go shooting, try it out. Handling one and learning to shoot will probably make you more comfortable, and you may even enjoy it.

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3 Andy2

Type in last comment – *uncomfortable

And please understand this is in no way a negative comment towards you. I was the same way, a little uncomfortable before I learned to shoot. And now I like it a lot.

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4 Debt Free Revolution

Interesting comparison, Ryan. Credit cards themselves are just pieces of plastic…but the terms and conditions listed in the credit card contracts are what make the credit card companies evil! Universal default? Disproportionate late fees? A hundred and one little “gotchas”? Have you ever read those T&Cs…and actually understood them? Professor Elizabeth Warren said in an interview she took one of those T&Cs into a graduate level business contract law class, and no two students could agree on exactly what it said.

For the record, I own TWO handguns…and now NO credit cards.

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5 Ryan

Plonkee,

I understand your point of view. Guns make many people very nervous. The point I am making about guns is that they are not inherently bad things. Guns are a tool that should be used only for their intended purpose. The same thing can be said about credit cards – they are not inherently bad, but used improperly can lead to bad results.

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6 Traciatim

I think a much better comparison would be Credit Cards to Drugs. They both are self destroying when used inappropriately. Plus sometimes it’s very difficult to define what’s appropriate and what is not. Guns have a very defined line one when it is no longer appropriate for use.

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7 Smart Investing & Money Management

Great analogy and well presented. People need to realize that it is not the tool that is harmful but it is the intention. And what we intend has implications. Ultimately it’s about choice.

-Mark

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8 Ryan

Andy2,
Target shooting is a great way to use a gun. Just don’t use your credit cards to finance your habit. ;)

Debt Free,
I’m not sure anyone understand the T&Cs on a credit card statement – even the lawyers who draft them!

Traciatim,
The other correlation between credit cards and drugs – using them both can be very addictive!

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9 The Dividend Guy

I like the analogy Ryan – in the right hands they can be used properly and effectively. The problem is that they tend to get into the wrong hands and all hell breaks loose…

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10 Laura

I appreciate your comparison Ryan. there are postives and negatives to both and you’re right that how you use them is important.

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11 plonkee

Thanks for the suggestion, but it really, really gives me the creeps. I’m not particularly suggesting that my reaction is normal, but if everyone felt as I do, there sure would be a lot less gun crime. :)

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12 Ryan

Plonkee, I’m assuming you mean Andy2′s suggestion to go target shooting? If guns are not your thing, that is not a problem; don’t go target shooting.

The only point I am making is that guns are not inherently bad – just as credit cards are not inherently bad. It all comes down to the intent and use of the tool; be it the credit card or the gun. Thanks for the comment. :)

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13 Brandon

Are there honestly people on the PF blogs who do not fully understand, or do not even read, the T&C of credit card offers? How about the T&C for job offers? Home purchase offers? How many contracts are you signing and being bound to without understanding those contracts? No wonder the rich get richer…

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14 Ryan

Brandon, I’m sure that most people reading PF blogs read and understand the T&Cs of credit cards, job offers, mortgages, etc. – At least, I think most people understand them now. There are a lot of people who come to PF blogs to learn, and in my opinion, learning at any time, even after making mistakes, is better than never learning at all. It’s hard to judge someone who is trying to improve his situation.

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15 kitty

“Are there honestly people on the PF blogs who do not fully understand, or do not even read, the T&C of credit card offers? ”
But do you really need to understand full details? There is really only two things that are important about credit card use: 1) if you borrow money, you always have to pay it back – any moral and ethical person should’ve learned this in childhood. If you understand that you always have to repay your debts, you cannot really believe that buying on credit allows you to buy more. 2) if you don’t pay your credit card bills in full and on time. you’ll pay a lot more. If you really understand and follow these two basic rules, you don’t care about details of the contract: if you always pay your credit card bill in full and by the due date, you never have to worry about fees or universal default or two cycle billing. By the way, I only learned about these last two things recently from a PBS program; for some reason for 20-something years I used credit cards I’ve never needed this information. When my parents got their first credit card their English wasn’t good enough to read a newspaper, much less T&C. But because they understood these two rules above, they’ve never had gotten themselves in debt. By the way – we came to the US from a communist country. No legal or financial education there – this was the economy where a small salary was given to you in an envelope in cash, and you had to stand in line with cash to pay your bills. If people from a communist country with little English can understand how to use credit cards for convenience, why can’t those who were born in the US?

I think guns are more dangerous — when misused they can kill. Death is final, debt is not. I’d consider alcohol or gambling a better comparison – some people can enjoy alcohol and some people shall avoid it entirely; some people can come into a casino, spend $40 for some entertainment and leave, others get in trouble.

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16 Mike

I see where you are going with the post and I understand your point. I would probably go a step further and say that if used incorrectly credit cards could be liken to weapons of mass destruction (WMD). We now see the financial mushroom clouds caused by the misuse of credit cards and mortgages. I read somehwere that the next big financial problem will come from bad credit card debt…potentially worse than subprime… if that is possible. I hope not.

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17 Ron@TheWisdomJournal

Great analogy.

As a little kid in the South, guns were always around. We were taught gun safety and no one I ever knew got hurt. We had many, even dozens, of guns and ammunition in the home.

As a little kid, I was NEVER taught anything about credit, personal finance, debt, budgets, or anything of a financial nature. I had to learn all that on my own.

I’m just glad it wasn’t the other way around. ;)

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18 FFB

Credits cards don’t put you in debt, you put you in debt – to paraphrase the NRA. My credit cards have never jumped out of my pocket on their own to buy something. I’m always the one responsible for my credit card bills!

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19 Ryan

No doubt, FFB. But it’s amazing how many people’s problems aren’t their fault. ;-)

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