National MP Simon O'Connor apologises for 'insensitive' comments on Nashville shooting

"I was upset, it's as simple as that."
"I was upset, it's as simple as that." Photo credit: Newshub.

National MP Simon O'Connor has apologised after comments in Parliament linking a US shooting to Green co-leader Marama Davidson's comments about white cis men.

O'Connor rose to speak late on Tuesday night during a reading of one of the government's gang-focused crime bills.

"Mr Speaker, I want to start by acknowledging the Christian community actually in Nashville," he said.

"Three children and three adults are dead and the shooter, and just to assure that community, long persecuted, that they are in our prayers. I'd also point out to Marama Davidson that the shooter and murderer is not a white cis male."

Davidson had made comments after a trans rights rally when approached by far-right conspiracy media group Counterspin. She said as Prevention of Family and Sexual Violence Minister she knew it was white cis men who cause violence in the world.

She later clarified her comments saying she had just been hit by a motorcycle at the time, and should have been clearer.

ACT and NZ First called for her resignation from her portfolios over the comments, and National has continued to demand she apologise to those hurt by her comments - white, cis men - but she has refrained.

The shooting in Nashville involved a heavily armed 28-year-old entering a school in the Tennessee city, and killing three children and three adult staffers before being shot dead by police.

In response to O'Connor's comments, Davidson posted on social media, asking him if his initial thought on hearing of the tragedy was "ah gotcha Marama".

"How absolutely ... you," she wrote. "I'm sadly disgusted by this."

O'Connor told RNZ he had rethought his comments in the House, and was apologising for what he had said.

"With a bit of reflection and time I think actually they were insensitive and actually [I'm] both a bit embarrassed and certainly apologetic about it," he said.

"I was upset, it's as simple as that. It was another Christian community targeted in this case and with other things that have been happening around the world it, to be honest, it just upset me.

"They were not the right things to say at that time, and not the right things to say at all. I think there's better and more constructive ways, so definitely saying sorry."

He said it was not a "gotcha".

"I don't think actually I was making a calculated decision, I was just upset and it burst out ... but as I say it's not appropriate and actually there isn't much room and we don't need gotcha politics if that's an angle that people have."

He acknowledged the statistics on shootings showed they were far more likely to be committed by cis white men than trans people.

"Look, they do, and that's without doubt and again that's part of the context.

"It's an emotional response that wasn't appropriate, it was being insensitive and that's why - happy to apologise - I'm always someone who will front and apologise for things I know that were wrong or are wrong."

He said he would not conflate his own situation with that of Davidson.

"I think there's two slightly different dynamics but I think, really importantly, I'm happy as soon as I found out this was upsetting people to front and apologise."