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Does the gun you want cost too much? There's a loan for that

A visitor holds a gun displayed during the International Exa 20013 Arms, security and outdoor show on April 15, 2013 in Brescia.

Consumer loans fuel sales of everything from homes to autos to appliances. Then, there are guns.

Many gun buyers prefer to pay cash. But for those who can’t, there’s a finance industry to help out. Some of the big names have pulled out of the politically sensitive market, most recently General Electric’s finance arm. Yes, if you couldn’t afford the gun you wanted, GE might have loaned you the money.

So how easy is it to get a gun loan, and who uses them?

Say you’re in the market for a gun. First of all, how much does the typical handgun or rifle cost? Larry Hyatt is owner of the Hyatt gun shop in Charlotte, N.C.

“There’s some a lot less and some a lot more but I would say the average (firearm) is $500,” he says.

Hyatt sells guns, and a lot of Americans are buying. Last year, $6 billion of firearms and ammunition were sold at retail -- up almost $2 billion from the year before.

Like a lot of gun shops, Hyatt’s store offered credit for customers that needed it. But when the financial crisis hit, credit quickly disappeared.

“The company that was doing ours quit doing it. They would not do guns any more,” explains Hyatt.

He says his loan company was owned by AIG. Now, Hyatt offers layaway for his customers instead. But he says most opt to use cash or plastic, and he’s grateful to the credit card industry for filling the credit gap.

“Thank goodness the credit card industry came to the rescue. That’s gun financing. It’s just through the normal credit cards not a separate company.”

But when it comes to guns, even consumers who can’t qualify for a credit card can still get credit. Randy Frazier, owner of gunfinancing.com, offers loans to consumers whose scores aren’t perfect and don’t have $2,000 in cash for a rifle.

“What we’re after is the guy who’s trying to buy a gun that he can’t afford to pay cash for,” he says. Frazier notes his website’s customers are typically between 21 and 32 years old. “They’re not perfect credit, but they’re not poor credit, they’re right in the middle.”

Frazier says if you are going to finance your gun, expect to pay about 18 percent in interest.

About the author

Sally Herships is a regular contributor to Marketplace.
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