Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Gun control

Last week, someone sent an email discussion group I'm on a link to this article which claims that “mass shootings occur less often in areas where responsible citizens may carry weapons.” Aside from the paradox that in my view a “responsible citizen” would not, by definition, carry a weapon, the article is disturbing.

It argues against “gun-free zones”, claiming that there is evidence that mass shootings are more likely to occur in schools and malls and so on where guns are banned than in similar areas where people may carry guns.

Supposing this is true, what the article doesn't acknowledge is that it is only comparing gun-free zones and guns-allowed zones within wider areas (cities and countries) where it is acceptable for people to carry guns. Perhaps there is a case against small gun-free zones. However, looking at larger areas – cities and countries - the international evidence seems clear that countries with greater restrictions on gun access suffer fewer gun deaths as a proportion of population than countries where gun access is freer:

Further up the page there is also an interesting graph comparing gun death rates in states and counties with the percentage of house holders owning guns in those areas.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

The rich get richer; the poor get poorer

At the end of 1993, Geoff and I bought our first home: a three bedroom house in one of Christchurch's cheapest suburbs, Aranui, for NZ$70,000. Seven years, one double garage and a few minor home improvements later, we sold the property for NZ$105,000 and moved to Wellington. We received only the one offer on the house, about a month after it went on the market. We know that the family who purchased the house planned to live in it themselves as they visited before we left to take measurements for new fences to keep their dogs out of part of the garden.

In 2000, we purchased a brand new but small (106 square metres including the garage) three bedroom home in one of Wellington's cheapest suburbs, Naenae, Lower Hutt, for $146,000.

A few weeks ago, my late mother-in-law's home went on the market. It is in the same suburb as our home, also three bedrooms but slightly larger and considerably older than our home, and includes a separate double garage ... maybe worth slightly less than our home. It could do with painting inside and new carpet throughout in my opinion. Within one week, the family had received 14 offers, the highest of which is $285,000, nearly double what we paid for our comparable home just seven years ago. Apparently most of the offers come from investors who intend to rent the property out.

It is time the old saying “The rich get richer and the poor get poorer,” is updated: “Landlords get richer and tenants get poorer.” Buying a basic family home in a cheap suburb has been put out of reach of all but the rich, by laws which allow property investors to negatively gear. It is time those laws were reversed.