New Zealand Mosque Shooting

Police escort witnesses away from a mosque in central Christchurch, New Zealand, Friday, March 15, 2019. Multiple people were killed in mass shootings at two mosques full of people attending Friday prayers, as New Zealand police warned people to stay indoors as they tried to determine if more than one gunman was involved. (AP Photo/Mark Baker)

New Zealand may be geographically on the other side of the world, but its grieving people are close to our hearts today in Charleston.

On Friday, a shooter or shooters apparently motivated by white supremacy killed at least 49 worshippers and injured dozens more in two mosques in Christchurch in what is the worst act of terrorism in New Zealand in recent memory.

A lengthy manifesto attributed to an Australian man believed to be the primary shooter laid out a twisted series of conspiracy theories, racist ideologies, anti-immigrant rants and references to other hate crimes in explaining his motivation.

One passage referenced the man who killed nine black men and women in Emanuel AME Church here in Charleston in 2015. Muslims, it seems obvious, were the intended targets in New Zealand.

Such a loathsome belief system ought to be viewed as a menace worldwide and condemned in the strongest possible terms. The hatred behind this most recent mass shooting only compounds an already unthinkable human tragedy.

“We are a proud nation of more than 200 ethnicities, 160 languages, and amongst said diversity, we share common values,” said New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on Friday.

“We were not chosen for this act of violence because we condone racism, because we are an enclave for extremism. We were chosen for the very fact that we are none of these things.”

Ms. Ardern emphasized that the shooter’s reported views “have absolutely no place in New Zealand and, in fact, have no place in the world.”

We wholeheartedly agree.

The terrorist attack in New Zealand was unfortunately not the only mass shooting this week. On Wednesday, two young men shot and killed eight people, including five students, a teacher and an administrator at a school in Sao Paulo, Brazil.

The specifics of the shootings in New Zealand and Brazil are different, of course. So are the two countries’ gun laws and violent crime rates. But both are part of a long and growing list of tragic losses of innocent human life to dangerous people with guns.

In the United States, lawmakers have taken disappointingly little action in the wake of periodic mass shootings or as a response to the larger epidemic of gun violence that claims tens of thousands of American lives each year.

That must change.

It is true that no law or regulation will completely stop shootings. But obvious reforms like expanding gun purchase background checks could undoubtedly help keep deadly weapons out of the hands of violent people.

Our leaders and their peers abroad must also make it abundantly clear that hatred has no place in a civil society. All of us, particularly here in Charleston where we know the pain of hate-motivated terror, ought to go to extra lengths to emphasize that point.

And not just today, but every day.