Archive for August, 2018

A Bad Guy with a Gun | A Hand Placed on the Heart

The phrase comes more from the movies than from real life. On our television screens we see a character called “the bad guy with a gun.” The narrative makes sure we know he is unredeemable. The story tells us evil must be destroyed or it will flourish. The hero, the person we identify with, does the deed. In the context of the story, the killing is justified—it’s a manifestation of justice.

The National Rifle Association helps gun manufacturers sell guns by convincing consumers that to be the hero of the story, all they need to do is purchase a gun. Pull out a credit card and be transformed into “the good guy with a gun.” The consumer is programmed to be the “hero” who will stand for justice against the “bad guy with a gun.”

While the media fully understands this narrative is completely and fatally false, they nonetheless rebroadcast it at every opportunity. But when something happens in real life—a hostage situation at the Trader Joe’s in Silver Lake, California, they neglect to tell the story of how the standoff was defused.

The man with the gun, gave up his gun, allowed himself to be handcuffed and surrendered to the authorities. There was no “good guy with a gun.” There was a woman who took control and showed the world what a hero is.

MaryLinda Moss, a 55-year-old artist who exudes calm, feared a suicidal gunman could spark a bloodbath. Through a series of disastrous decisions by Atkins, dozens of strangers had ended up at the grocery store on a hot Saturday afternoon, drenched in fear and surrounded by SWAT teams, helicopters, squad cars and ambulances.

She put her hand on his heart.

“I told him: ‘There’s always hope. I know you have a good heart, and I know you don’t want to hurt anybody.’”

Atkins, 28, protested: “You don’t know what I’ve done.”

Read the story by Robin Abcarian of the LA Times about what happened inside the store on that day. This isn’t a story from a television drama; it’s about what a woman did when faced with a wounded man with a loaded gun. MaryLinda Moss stopped the men with guns—all of them. They had all been pre-programmed to play their parts in a made-for-TV drama. A different story played out. A better story.

The tender, terrifying truth about what happened inside the Trader Joe’s hostage siege