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We must confront racism, terrorism

The news that two mass shootings took the lives of 29 came as a shock in some ways, but it felt all too familiar in others.

America, unfortunately, has grown accustomed to these horrific events.

The shootings in Texas and Ohio were similar to those that came before — a young white man murdering innocent people.

One appears to have done so out of a misguided belief that he was protecting white people from an invasion of immigrants (maybe our political leaders should stop referring to immigrants as invaders). He appears to have chosen El Paso because of its majority Hispanic population.

That shooting is rightly being investigated as a hate crime.

In both instances, police responded quickly to stop the violence. But it took only 30 seconds for a man to kill nine and wound 26 in Dayton, Ohio.

In the aftermath of the shooting, there were plenty of calls for stricter background checks, more funding for mental health services and countless offers of “thoughts and prayers.”

While prayer is certainly needed, it’s not clear that stricter background checks would have prevented the shootings. The same goes for mental health funding.

Red-flag laws are needed, and should be passed, but they likely would not have mattered this weekend.

Both shooters were young, angry, white men bent on murdering as many innocent people as possible. What happened in these men’s lives to turn them into such monsters?

Was it the hate-filled websites populated by racists? Was it a belief in an ideology of white nationalism?

Law enforcement officials are still trying to figure that out. If one or both of these men were radicalized by racist beliefs, and it appears at least one was, America and its leaders must be prepared to confront it. It won’t be easy.

Much of the federal government’s law enforcement energy has focused on radical Islamic terrorists. But now, more Americans are killed by domestic terrorism. The federal government’s priorities should account for that. We must confront terrorism no matter where it originates, especially when it grows right here at home.

If we do not, America will likely grow more familiar with the kind of violence that struck Texas and Ohio.