Shooting Rampages May Be Sparked By Recession

Crazed gunmen have killed 57 people in eight separate incidents in the last month, to the general bafflement of everyone except gun control advocates. Now the economy is emerging as a possible explanation.

The AP is keeping a running tally of the shootings -- in half of the cases, investigators say the shooter was upset about losing work.

On March 30, a headline in the Christian Science Monitor asked if the recession played a role in the trend. A criminologist said: "Most of these mass killings are precipitated by some catastrophic loss, and when the economy goes south, there are simply more of these losses."

Four shootings later, the Washington Post followed up with a story noting that while comparable statistics are lacking, several experts say the collapsing economy has "stoked fear, anxiety and desperation across society and unnerved its most vulnerable and dangerous."

The more salient trend is probably that each of the gunmen had obtained his guns legally. The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence has issued a statement condemning lax gun laws after several of the incidents, with a particularly biting item after early reports on Richard Poplawski's murder of three police officers in Pittsburgh revealed that Poplawski's friends said he "feared the Obama administration was poised to ban guns."

Brady president Paul Helmke blamed Poplawski's paranoia on an NRA leaflet.

"The gun lobby's rhetoric has consequences," wrote Helmke. "We have seen how profound those consequences can be."