MINOT, N.D. — In the wake of Mohamad Barakat’s deadly attack on Fargo law enforcement officers — which may have been the prelude to something much bloodier if not for the bravery of the cops — our conversation has turned from the incomprehensible to the comprehensible.
The phenomenon of mass shootings is a difficult one to understand. The motivations aren’t uniform. Sometimes it’s mental illness. Sometimes it’s bigotry. Sometimes it’s political or religious extremism, and, confoundingly, sometimes, we never get enough information to discern a reason.
Whatever dark impulses these shooters are indulging — we’ve yet to learn what evidence, if any exists, will speak to Barakat’s reasons — the one common theme is that they’re using mass-casualty attacks as a medium — a blank canvas for their homicidal disaffection.
It’s easy to understand why we back away from that dark abyss and instead focus on something that’s easier to get our arms around. Like what tool the killers used.
Attorney General Drew Wrigley, whose office has handled this grim episode with aplomb, announced that Barakat used a binary trigger on one of his weapons. This is a device that causes a weapon to fire twice with each trigger pull. With practice, you can achieve very high rates of fire, emulating the output of the sort of automatic weapon that is proscribed for Americans without expensive and arduous licensing.