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Our opinion: Pain in Buffalo started with hate

Saturday’s mass shooting in Buffalo is the closest such horrific acts have come to Chautauqua County.

Today, we stand with our neighbors in Buffalo in our grief for the 10 people whose lives ended during a routine trip to the grocery store or a routine day at work. Many in our county feel agony, anger and bewilderment, wondering how a person so young can be so consumed with hate and fear to lash out in such ways.

Some will focus on the weapon of choice — a legally purchased AR-15 rifle with a high-capacity magazine reportedly purchased out-of-state even though the shooter was subjected to a psychological exam roughly a year ago. Despite already strict gun laws, weapons continue to find their ways into the hands of those with hate in their heart. And while we will certainly discuss how appropriate or necessary it is to buy and sell such weapons, it is the hate that should draw our attention here. It is the hate that fueled Saturday’s shooting that is truly frightening.

The shooter said in a 180-page screed that he was inspired by a past shooter and their belief in “the great replacement theory” that theorizes white people are being diminished and violence should be used to purge other races from society. It is the sort of despicable garbage being spread in the far reaches of the internet that somehow fills a void in people looking for something to give their lives purpose.

We will spend a lot of time in the coming weeks talking about what happened this weekend in Buffalo. We may not agree on gun control or the legality of assault weapons, but we should be able to agree that our country is big enough for people of all races, colors and religions to coexist. We should all be able to agree that the hate fermenting in our nation is just as frightening as the tools domestic terrorists use.

Self-styled patriots like the Buffalo shooter or anyone who targets their neighbors based on their race, religion or sex should remember the most treasured of our nation’s founding tenets — “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

Those words, written by our Founding Fathers nearly 246 years ago, are the ideals we must cling to — not the sort of hate- and fear-filled muck that fuels terrorists both foreign and domestic.

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