Bodybuilders who take steroids to "bulk up" their muscles sometimes suffer anger and other personality problems. "Roid rage" is a label applied to the phenomenon.
Perhaps that helps explain why a disturbed Florida man, Pedro Vargas, committed a Friday gun massacre that left seven dead, including the gunman.
Vargas, 42, had no criminal or mental record -- thus it was legal for him to possess all the murder weapons he wanted. Acquaintances said he took steroids for years while he lifted weights at a Hialeah gym. He was known for screaming at his mother and having difficulty with girlfriends.
Police say Vargas withdrew about $10,000 in cash from his bank account, piled it on his apartment floor and set it afire -- an irrational act. When the apartment managers, an aging husband and wife, came to investigate the smoke, he shot them both to death.
Vargas shot wildly from his balcony, killing a man on a parking lot below. Then he went back inside, kicked his way into an apartment and killed three inside. A 17-year-old girl hid in a bathtub to escape him, but he broke through the bathroom door and shot her to death.
The killer took another couple hostage and waged a standoff with police -- but a SWAT team burst in, killed him, and saved his hostages.
The Hialeah massacre happened the same day as a West Virginia one. Clarksburg police say Sidney Muller, 27, went to a known drug house where something went wrong and he shot four people to death -- including father-and-son newspaper deliverers who happened to be passing outside.
These mass killings made headlines because of the number of victims involved. But never-ending shootings across the nation kill thousands of Americans, a few at a time, drawing little notice. More Americans die from pistol murders than from wars.
U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., bravely sought to reduce the slaughter by imposing more background checks on gun sales, to keep weapons away from criminals and psychotics. But the right-to-bear-arms lobby exploded in hysterical denunciations of Manchin, and Republicans in the Senate temporarily halted Manchin's bill. Bizarrely, it seems as if the gun lobby and GOP want more criminals and psychotics to be armed.
Last week, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, a crusader against gun murder, held a $1,000-a-plate fundraiser for Manchin at his Manhattan home. Manchin vows to keep pushing his safety bill. Hurrah.
As long as timid politicians do nothing to protect Americans from gun slaughter, killings like those at Hialeah and Clarksburg will keep occurring, randomly and unstoppably.