My daughter came into the kitchen early today to tell me her friends were downtown in Auckland at Britomart, the transit hub of New Zealand’s biggest city, and that a construction worker had just run past them saying a man with a gun was shooting people.
I immediately swept all the online news media and saw nothing and was in the process of suggesting to her that maybe her friends were pranking her when it broke on Breakfast TV.
I know the area this shooting occurred in well — I was there a few days ago; most Aucklanders will know it as it is a vital entry point to downtown Auckland. To have a mass shooting event there is utterly outside the norm for Aucklanders.
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As the reverberations and shock ease, there will of course be immediate political fall out.
Before all that though, first, let us acknowledge the uncompromising courage of our New Zealand police and emergency services. We all saw them sprint into that building knowing someone was armed and shooting people.
I am the first to be critical of the NZ Police, but on this day, their professionalism and unflinching bravery was one of the few things we can be grateful for on such a poisoned morning.
Let us also pause and mourn the two who were killed and 10 wounded. These were simply good honest folk going about their day of work and not one of them deserved the horror visited upon them by 24-year-old Matu Tangi Matua Reid.
Now let’s talk about Matu.
Troubling pump-action shotgun access
The media have already highlighted that he was on home detention for domestic violence charges and was wearing an ankle bracelet. This is of no surprise nor shock, many on home detention have the option of applying for leave to work — we do this because those on home detention still need to pay the rent, far more troubling was his access to a pump-action shotgun he didn’t have a gun licence for.
We know he had already been in a Turn Your Life Around Youth Development Trust programme.
Political partisans will try and seize any part of his story to whip into political frenzy for their election narrative and we should reject and resist that.
The banality of evil always tends to be far more basic than we ever appreciate.
There is nothing special about Matu; he is simply another male without the basic emotional tools to facilitate his anger beyond violence. In that regard Matu is depressingly like tens of thousands of men in NZ.
His background didn’t justify this terrible act of violence today and his actions can’t be conflated to show Labour are soft on crime.
Another depressing violent male
Matu is just another depressing male whose violence he could not control. There are tens of thousands like him and until we start focusing on building young men who have the emotional tools to facilitate their anger beyond violence, he won’t be the last.
He has shamed himself.
He has shamed his family.
He has shamed us all.
Today isn’t a day for politics, it is far too sad for that, the politics will come and everyone will be screaming their sweaty truth, but at its heart this is about broken men incapable of keeping their violence to themselves.
What a sorrowful day for my beautiful city.
Republished from The Daily Blog with permission.