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Dr Liz Gordon: Guns, meth, murder and white supremacy

By   /  March 16, 2019  /  6 Comments

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I had just completed the blog below when I heard about today’s attack on people in Christchurch, by at least one male self-proclaimed white supremacist.  Guns and meth, meth and guns, the message is clear: New Zealand is becoming less safe and more like the USA. I do not yet know what toll has been taken by today’s events.  I do know I have already had two comments reported to me approving of this gun crime. I find this almost incomprehensible. I am sure we will hear more.

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I had just completed the blog below when I heard about today’s attack on people in Christchurch, by at least one male self-proclaimed white supremacist.  Guns and meth, meth and guns, the message is clear: New Zealand is becoming less safe and more like the USA. I do not yet know what toll has been taken by today’s events.  I do know I have already had two comments reported to me approving of this gun crime. I find this almost incomprehensible. I am sure we will hear more.

In the meantime, my story today is about some events of 18 months ago, again in Christchurch.

*   * *   *

The trial of my grandson’s killers has further exposed an underbelly in New Zealand that would not be out of place in a Chicago ghetto. Two drug dealers, each owning an armoury of guns, take a third out to an isolated place and shoots him dead.

While superficially not about drugs, but about a woman who all three had ties to, the events of 4 September 2017 were driven almost completely by two unassailable truths: all of the participants were heavy users of ‘meth’, or ‘P’, and all were used to operating in a violent environment with plenty of weapons.

I am pleased to report that, watching the trial, I felt none of the crazed need for revenge that seems to emerge in many of the families whose children are the victims of violent crime.  I did not feel the need to call for the death penalty or for the young men to be locked away for life. I just felt really sad.

Bradley was a sweet boy who had a difficult upbringing. He had a lovely sense of humour and was intelligent, albeit rather under-educated. Many of his family and friends were very fond of him, and took him in when needed. He was a strong and large young man, and good looking before he covered his face with ugly gangland tattoos.  I always told him (pre tattoo) that he would be a wonderful firefighter, rescuing kittens from trees and babies from fires. He left behind a lovely young son who I hope will have a great life.

He got involved in a gang very early on and, though he said he wanted to break free, this was nearly impossible.  Despite spending 8 months in pre-trial detention (remand), and then receiving an excellent talking to by the judge, and a home and support from his son’s grandmother, he was not able to keep out of trouble.  I suspect he was probably a drug user all the way through, and that this drove many of his choices.

He died, alone apart from his killers, in a terrible execution-type killing, both eyes shot out, on the banks of the beautiful Waimakariri River. His Grandad would really have suffered, so I am please he pre-deceased Brad by a few months.

At the heart of this is the meth industry and the burgeoning meth usage, which has been creeping across communities for years.  The first high, so they say, is so pleasurable, and the first low so terrible, that people thereafter pursue the twin goals of repeating that first experience (which cannot happen) and avoiding the lows.  

In the process that addiction becomes so strong, the psychological effects are so profound and the physical effects so devastating that the person is completely changed.  Getting off the meth, I have been told, is virtually impossible, and most who attend treatment end up either back on the drug or committing suicide.

It ruins families.  You cannot be a good parent and a meth addict, as the drug highs and lows come to dominate one’s daily practices.  Some say that meth use is compatible with a normal life: that meth users can work at a daily job and hold down a normal life.  This may be true for some. My experience of it is that it leads to a lovely young man dying alone on a riverbank.

We all know that this drug is flooding in to New Zealand either as precursors or in finished form.  It is, probably a multi-billion-dollar industry. Recent stories cover the emergence of the drug in the Pacific Island community, with devastating effects.  Many women in prison are addicts.

For the past few days I have seen in front of me two men who both contributed to the spread of the drug through dealing, and were themselves heavy users.  Most heavy users need to become dealers in order to afford their habit. One of them also has a significant mental health problem, which was probably both medicated by and made worse by the meth. They will both now spent a big hunk of their lives in prison.  

I am glad they are going to prison.  They spread misery in the community and killed my grandson.  But they are also people’s sons and siblings, people for whom once there were aspirations and hopes.  What will Kasha, what will Cody, turn out to be? Police officers, trades people, teachers…. or murderous drug dealers?

In every batch of meth and precursor smuggled into New Zealand, guns of various types are thrown in.  Armed hyped up meth dealers are normalising gun crime in New Zealand. Drugs/ guns are a couplet, and a very dangerous one.

I think our country needs a better understanding to the methamphetamine industry in New Zealand and its spread and effects. Also how to push back against, and heal, the harm that it causes and get rid of the guns.  While I hesitate to advocate for an inquiry, there being so many, I think that things have come to such a pass that this is now necessary.


Dr Liz Gordon began her working life as a university lecturer at Massey and the Canterbury universities. She spent six years as an Alliance MP, before starting her own research company, Pukeko Research.  Her work is in the fields of justice, law, education and sociology (poverty and inequality). She is the president of Pillars, a charity that works for the children of prisoners, a prison volunteer, and is on the board of several other organisations. Her mission is to see New Zealand freed from the shackles of neo-liberalism before she dies (hopefully well before!).

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  1. saveNZ says:

    I agree 100% with your post.

    My condolences on the death of your grandson. It’s not just about these senseless deaths all around us, but the victims are also family members and the wider community that are preyed upon by the drug, gambling, arms and other harmful industries.

    It sounds like the government are going to tighten up the gun laws in the wake of the terrorism tragedy. But it would have been good if they had taken more interest in what was going wrong before the terrorism attack.

    Drugs are harmful, like arms, rampant gambling here and so forth. Ordinary people are vessels and you can not control security and crime in a country when you allow commerce to be more important than harm to others.

    The government needs to stop its economic ideology that has led to undervaluing our own human capital for 30 years. It has made our youth leave school and tertiary without having achieved their potential. The ideology for the last 30 years have stifled potential avenues for people to succeed in, including not just young people, but practically everyone in this country through redundancy being easy and supporting big business and selling off assets against the people, often for financial engineering, to remain in government by pronouncing a ‘surplus’.

    To be a secure country we need to support people here with real and fulfilling opportunities. A dead end, low paid job or criminal activity is not that.

    Unprovoked attacks that are become more prevalent here by poor future planning, less real and secure opportunities for people and safety being down graded as a risk in return for a perceived monetary gain, such as poor quality NZ degrees, 0% tax havens or no visa gambling.

  2. countryboy says:

    The gun is the only effective way to extend the penis.
    Re Meth, or P.
    Decriminalise then medical-crisis P immediately or the AO/ NZ P epidemic will get worse.
    Unless, of course, one might want to use P harm as an excuse to disarm us as a population while combining then arming up the police and military.
    We are, after all, only 4.7 million people on a resource rich few islands 25K sq km bigger than the UK and our biosphere is about to boil dry.
    I’ll let paranoia be my guide.

    I can’t find the words that could express my distress at what’s happened in my city. I’ve watched in horror as roger douglas’ neo liberalism gave Christchurch a sickness, a disease it never recovered from. Then the earthquakes and now this. It just isn’t fair. Nothing, about this is right or explainable. The only good that could come from this is if we learn to love each other more closely.
    While I’m no God botherer I’d say there appears to be a certain kind of evil on the loose.

    • Rickoshay says:

      Yer mostly right old chum, but Meth is a weapon being used against NZers by an over seas power bent on revenge for the opium wars

  3. Marc says:

    So has ‘P’ played a role in this, or not?

    Perhaps some jump to conclusions. The guy grew up apparently innocently in ordinary NSW in a small town called Grafton, got into a gym as trainer and then went to do OEs, like many others do.

    He appears to have hooked up with white supremacists, but strangely traveled to many Muslim nations, even Pakistan, only commenting positively over people there.

    Only months later he comes to New Zealand and commits this atrocity.

    It does not make much sense, but here we have an extremist who has lost a sense of reality, living in his own bubble.

    We will get more of this, as the internet allows people evolve in little bubbles, without touch with reality, and thinking they are right.

    The future is one of disconnectedness, isolation, perceived belonging, and misled guidance, with more divisiveness than what brings people together.

    The system, i.e. the government, and agencies, they are in panic mode now, they do not know how to handle this, they try to pander to the various religious groups and make friends with them, but do we want Sharia Law, do we want one religion be accepted and empowered over others?

    We have different religions and even political parties, because people differ. When it comes to religion, they are not as tolerant as people may believe. It is like one church says, we are ‘the only true church’, others say, ‘we are the only true religion’. And religions compete, so we have intolerance towards Christians in many Muslim nations, and vice versa, perhaps.

    So what is the damned solution, we are all supposed to be ‘the same’, but we are NOT. We have different values and different ideas about life, we better accept this and get real.

    We have to be careful with religion, as we cannot have a country dominated by any religion, but most religions want to dominate.

    I see real issues here, this atrocity is a huge crime, but it reveals we have immense divisions.

  4. Agent Carter says:

    Everything I read adds to the justification for banning high powered weapons in this country. Considering we are an island nation, it shouldn’t be beyond our abilitiy to keep these things out at our borders.

    That leaves weapons sold or stolen from licensed owners.

    Let’s not forget that the 15 March shooter was a LICENSED gun owner. That in itself speaks loudly that being licensed is not a safeguard from mis-use. Quite the contrary, it shows that a little piece of paper is no safe-guard against someone harbouring an evil ideology.

    Australia banned semi-automatics post-Port Arthur. They’ve had no mass shootings with that style of weapon since. What does that tell us?

  5. Ngungukai says:

    I would be interested to know what chemicals were in the guy’s bloodstream, highly likely he was on P (methamphetamine) while undertaking his bloody rampage.

    This drug is far more dangerous than puffing on a cannabis cigarrette.

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