The policeman who didn’t shoot at Alek Minassian in Toronto is proof that real heroes aren’t trigger-happy

We’re conditioned from the moment we turn on the television to admire and respect the supreme authority of uber-masculine, gun-toting ‘heroes’. We’re subconsciously schooled in the art of violent revenge – and it’s exactly this sort of ideology that inspires attackers and terrorists

Over the past couple of years, mass murder has developed into something remarkably unremarkable. Generations gone by never seemed to worry much about getting gunned down at church. Your mum probably never thought somebody in a big white van would plough into her outside a café and leave her for dead, either.

But that was then. Now, we can’t seem to go more than a week without a university campus going on lockdown, a bomb going off, or a vehicle mounting the pavement – and that’s exactly what happened yesterday in Toronto.

The story is becoming all too familiar.

It seems a man decided to rent a van, hop the kerb and mow down as many pedestrians as he could. Ten innocent people are now gone forever, and another 15 people have been left fighting for their lives. Words can’t describe the senselessness of it all – and so there’s no point trying.

But out of the pitiful darkness, this tragedy has left us with one, minuscule ray of light in the form of an everyday hero doing his job. And it has got to be the new gold standard for how we celebrate bravery.

Twenty-five-year-old Alek Minassian was cornered by the police and screamed at them to shoot him dead. He repeatedly threatened to fire at officers unless they killed him – and nine times out of 10, you can bet your bottom dollar that your local cop would happily comply (at least in North America, that is).

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