AP Photo/Vicki Cronis-Nohe

In covering mass shootings over the last couple of years, I’ve noticed one thing that seems to be a common thread among most of the killers. They tend to be abusive jackwagons. Take the Parkland killer, for example. Law enforcement had visited his home more than 40 times prior to his rampage but took no action.

Well, it seems the killer in the Virginia Beach shooting followed that mold.

The gunman who shot dead 12 people at a Virginia Beach municipal building had been facing disciplinary action for a violent fight at work, according to a report.

[Killer’s name redacted], 40, was still employed as an engineer with the Department of Public Utilities when he went on his shooting rampage Friday, killing 12 and injuring several others, including a cop.

But he recently started showing serious behavioral problems and got into physical “scuffles” with other city workers, a source told The New York Times.

The source told the paper that the troubles had escalated in the week leading up to the mass shooting — and [the killer] was involved in what it called “a violent altercation on city grounds.”

[He] reportedly knew he was facing disciplinary action for the fight when he went into the municipal building with two .45-caliber handguns, at least one of which was equipped with a sound suppressor — and both of which were purchased legally.

Thus far, he was still considered in good standing with the city of Virginia Beach but had put in his resignation earlier that day. When asked why he was resigning, he replied that it was for personal reasons.

However, he may also have been concerned that he was about to be fired.

What none of this explains is what kind of mental break was required for someone to put in his resignation that morning and then murder 12 people that afternoon. It doesn’t make any sense.

Then again, it’s not like these attacks are known to make any sense.

What we do know is that we can often find a pattern of violence or abuse occurring well before the mass shooting. People don’t wake up one morning and decide out of the blue that they want to murder a dozen people. That’s not how it works. They typically start with some other outlet for their abuse, but it seems that it doesn’t quell the rage within and they have to lash out in some other way.

I don’t understand it, and I don’t pretend to. What I do understand is that we can often find these threads when we look into the past of a mass killer, which leads me to believe that there’s a definite pathology at work within these individuals. Learning to understand that and how to treat it may do more for preventing these senseless atrocities than any gun control measure ever could.

But, that would take away the opportunity for anti-gun lawmakers to grandstand, so we’ll never see it happen.