A Good Guy with a Gun is my take on gun control and the all too familiar shootings in the United States. Although inspired by real events, the story is entirely fictional.
I wrote A Good Guy with a Gun because it's my way to analyze my thoughts, redirect my frustration, and share my point of view. I propose it because I hope to provoke, shock, open a discussion, and create food for thought.
Please note that, because of the nature of the subject, the story might touch upon controversial topics.
The writing and the scenes are also occasionally visceral and depict strong imagery.
This story is meant for adult audiences only.
A GOOD GUY WITH A GUN
By L.L. Maurizi
Panting, gasping for air, Samuel tried to run faster. He focused on the movement of his legs, envisioning the muscles stretching and compressing as his blood inundated the tissue. Metallic taste of dried out saliva invaded his mouth, making him, like never before, aware of every tooth, gum, and square millimeter of his own tongue. His legs were heavier.
Samuel felt he was losing control over his own body. Every time one of his feet touched the coarse asphalt, he could hear, resonating with unnatural loudness, a stomp like that of something dropping uncontrollably from up high, but so heavy that it would stop its movement downwards without bouncing, stick-landing to the new surface. Then the other leg would follow, and a muscle he didn’t even know existed, would reveal itself with a shooting pain traveling from his ankle, and through his shin.
That cramp was so unique that Samuel couldn’t contain a smile; the same smile that some people have when blood flows once again freely in a leg that’s been asleep for hours.
Samuel looked far ahead in the distance. The horizon was a reminder of an ever-fleeting destination. His joints were too stiff. His knees were not bending anymore. His speed decreased with every vault of his legs. He looked back, his dark eyes saddened by the creeping realization that his body was giving up on him. He could still see his apartment building right behind the small hill he was climbing.
Many other joggers had made that route their favorite. That’s why Samuel also thought that it would have been a good place to start. He looked down at his watch as his slow jog turned into a slow walk made awkward by those weird cramps attacking his lower legs. Samuel expected pain on his quadriceps, or his calves, but not there. He didn’t even know what ‘there’ was.
He reached a bench at the top of the hill, which was waiting there for some desperate New Year-resolutioner who at that point was regretting every decision he had ever made. Samuel extended his arm preparing to reach the coveted throne, dragging his legs. The sun rising in front of him, over the skyline of the dormant city, made the scene look like the first shot of a zombie movie. In that scenario, Samuel would have looked like patient zero.
He reached the bench and, as he rested, he glanced at the other runners hopping in front of him, barely even panting. All he could think was that being chubby is not so bad after all.
Samuel made his way back home, a tastefully decorated bright apartment overlooking the hills east and south. The two balconies he was so proud of were filled with beautifully colored Christmas roses. The flowers, arching downwards, hid their mysterious patterns from any observer who wouldn’t crouch down to look directly under their skirt. Samuel contemplated his plants, and paused for a moment on his young cherry tree, now dormant, waiting for winter to pass, to finally reveal its ephemeral blooms.
Samuel enjoyed the hot water of the shower cascading on him for a few minutes before soaping up and planning his reward meal for his first workout day. Because, hey, I deserved it. This was the beginning of a new and improved self, but it’s not like you can renounce all worldly pleasures.
In the kitchen, the oil frying tiny chunks of chicken in the pan crackled like a small fire in the woods. The fumes of burned bits of flour reached the walls and curtains in Samuel’s apartment, crawling into the nests they would slip in for the next few days, reminding Samuel of the first of many cheat meals to come. He turned on the TV, ate, and vegetated on the chair until the morning news’ jingle reminded him that it was time to go to work.
Samuel parked in his usual spot and walked to the school building accompanied by the numerous ‘good morning, professor’ and ‘wassup’ of the high schoolers. Mark Stockton ran right by him. He was a smart kid, barely ever studied, but somehow managed to get by.
“Test today, Mark! First period!”
“I’m all over it, Mr. Davies!”
Samuel had his coffee, chitchatted with the other teachers and headed to class. As he walked, someone caught his attention. Among many kids, laughing, joking, pushing each other, one of them just stood out. His expression was empty, emotionless. No backpack. Samuel didn’t know that kid well. He had seen him around, but had never talked with him. With the sun on his back, filtering through the large doors and windows, the kid’s silhouette looked taller, darker, ghostly. Suddenly, a scream filled the corridors, followed by another, and then another, like an echo that was not able to sing on tune.
Samuel’s eyes finally adjusted to the change of light and he too became aware of what others had already noticed: a long rifle that the kid pulled out of his trench coat. With a swift movement, the kid rotated the rifle in his right arm, and as the stock reached his shoulder, his left hand clenched on the barrel. Shots followed.
Samuel’s mind tricked him into living all of this in slow motion, antics played by the overflow of adrenaline. His mind stopped working and his body acted on its own accord, but poorly, sending Samuel falling on the ground, ass first. His legs shuffled, looking for a grip to slide back. Maybe he was screaming, perhaps his voice was as broken as his control over his own muscles. He had no idea.
The kid looked down the sights of the gun and shot again, but not at Samuel. The bullets chased other teachers and children running, crawling, crying and screaming, begging for help, extending their arms and hands as if to reach for an invisible rope of salvation. The stopping power of the projectiles pushed them, pierced them, and mangled them, giving them just enough time to realize it was over. Their dreams, hopes, fantasies, jokes, ideas, possibilities, discoveries, all disintegrated. Samuel was not the only one who had been ignored. He was one of the several winners of a merciless lottery that left those with the wrong numbers lifeless.
The shooter disappeared around a corner. Cries, like those one would imagine belonging to Hell’s damned, accompanied him. Samuel’s mind lost its ability to deal with time and space. He didn’t pass out but he was only partially conscious. Later, he would remember screams, digging into his brain. He would remember being led out of the school following a line of terrified people, arms stretched all the way above their head. Police lights were flashing. Mark Stockton’s mother was wailing, and fighting to see the body of her dead son.
News reporters spasmodically tried to squeeze as many words as they could in the few minutes they were allotted to describe what had happened. Samuel would remember being in an ambulance, being asked questions to which he had no answer.
Now at home, sitting on the couch, his eyes staring at an imaginary dot on the wall, Samuel reached for the remote and turned on the TV. The news anchor spoke with the grimmest tone he could muster. Samuel couldn’t help but notice that the host’s face looked two pounds heavier because of all the makeup they had slapped on him.
“A difficult day for yet another community shocked by devastating violence,” opened too-much-makeup,
“An all too familiar picture, after a lone shooter entered school grounds and opened fire
on students and faculty, killing 19 people and wounding 26 more, leaving 8 in critical condition.”
Samuel’s eyes moved frantically from frame to frame as the news showed aerial images of the school, and the cameras of the TV network transmitted the aftermath from inside the building. A chill, like a cube of ice dropped inside his shirt, reached Samuel’s back and made him convulse on his chair.
“367 mass shootings this year alone in the U.S.”
“… are asking not to politicize this moment of grief,”
“… now calling for stricter gun-control laws.”
“The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun!”
Samuel had heard that mantra many times before. It was now coming from the mouth of one of the politicians trying to come up with a solution for the continuous deaths by firearms in America. That line snapped Samuel out of his catatonic state. He shook his head vigorously, like a wet dog. Tears ran down his cheeks. Anger, grief, and powerlessness mixed within his ego, confusing him. Something burned inside him.
The human mind gets accustomed to any aberration, but his rage and disappointment never left him for the following weeks. They turned into obsession as more and more people talked and debated on TV. Maybe arming the teachers would solve the issue. How about hiring veterans to guard school premises? Let’s build bigger fences. No one should infringe on the God given rights of the American citizens by taking away their ability to protect themselves and their own.
What if the government decided to move against its citizens! The only defense would be that provided by responsible gun owners and their weapons! The libtards, like Samuel, couldn’t understand that the only thing that can stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun. Australia, Japan, Italy, the U.K.: they are different from America! So is the rest of the developed world.
One can’t use that as an example. A criminal doesn’t care about laws, right? They would still find guns. What about other laws regulating drunk driving, tobacco smoking, illegal drugs, assault? By the same token we don’t need those laws either! That’s apples and oranges! We need our guns!
Day after day, week after week, those words dug deeper into Samuel’s psyche. At work, at home, in his sleep, he kept hearing the voices of all the newscasters, opinionated civilians, survivors, Democrats and Republicans all sharing their two cents, while no action was being taken. The survivors of the shooting had been interviewed, applauded, then smeared with accusations of being actors. Some people started advancing the idea that the whole thing had been staged.
What could he do? What if he had been wrong his whole adult life? What if the solution was a different one? A good guy with a gun…
On a crisp Tuesday morning, one of those days when the air is cleaner, reinvigorating, and cold enough to turn your skin purple, Samuel opened the window and stood on the balcony. Naked, he pondered, listening to the voices in his head, in his soul. He called in sick, put on some comfortable clothes and went to the closest NRA club.
He wanted to meet responsible gun owners, the good guys, and he did. He met men and women, their kids, all of them with a deep sense of responsibility towards safety, knowledge about guns, and freedom in the United States of America. As days passed, he joined more meetings and talks, learned a lot about rifles, and how to handle them. He made new friends, even joined them for dinner in their homes. He went out drinking with them, laughed, talked, and exchanged ideas with them.
Samuel had never fired a gun. Time to change, he thought. He joined a shooting range some of his new friends had recommended. Many people were ecstatic to help Samuel. He was a small celebrity. A survivor of a massacre, but instead of trying to promote gun control, he decided to take arms like ‘a real American should do.’
There was so much to handling a gun, caring for it, maintaining it functional that Samuel didn’t know. As winter turned to spring, he had shot thousands of rounds from dozens of different guns. The instructors praised him on what a talent he was. He participated to war games with some survivalists. He scored extremely high in shooting competitions. Samuel was focused, determined to perfect his craft.
The following winter caught everyone off guard. It felt like summer gave way to the cold without bothering to ask autumn what it thought about it. Samuel went for his usual morning jog. He passed without breaking a sweat the hill that one year earlier had proved to be his limit, and went on running for a couple more hours. He then went home, showered, dressed, went to work, had his coffee, and entertained small talk with colleagues and students. At the end of the day, he drove to the closest firearms store.
The sound of an electronic bell informed the shop clerks of Samuel entering the shop.
“Good evening, sir, how can I help.” Behind the counter, a middle-age man with a white buttoned shirt and blue jeans greeted his new customer.
Samuel marveled at the many display windows showing all kinds of rifles and pistols with little tags hanging from them, detailing price and specifics of each one.
“Hello!” Samuel had a broad smile opening on his face. “I’m here to buy my first rifle…”
“Oh well! You’re in the right place. And thank you for choosing my store.”
“So, you’re the owner. That’s great!”
“Yessir. Store has been in the family for three generations now. We take great pride in
what we do. So, how would you like to get started? Have you ever fired a gun before?”
“I have.” Samuel approached the counter, still looking around in the store. “I actually
have a pretty clear idea already of what I want. I hope you can help me. I’m looking for an AR-15.”
“Excellent choice. Easy to use, not particularly pricey. Let me show you what we have.”
The shop owner pulled a large folder from a drawer revealing a number of pictures and
pages full of information. He then turned it towards Samuel. As he skimmed through the book, Samuel used his fingers to bookmark some pages.
“See anything you like?” Asked the shop owner.
“Plenty!” Samuel smiled. “Well. I don’t see exactly what I was looking for but do you
think we can mix and match a little and customize a weapon for me?”
“Sure.” The owner couldn’t hide an undertone of derision as he wondered whether his customer had any idea of what he was talking about.
Samuel pointed at a picture in one of the pages he’d bookmarked, “I’d like to have this
configuration for my rifle.”
The owner leaned forward a little, “Mid-length system?”
Samuel shook his head ‘no’ “Damned chubby fingers, huh? I meant the one below it.
This one with the rifle-length system.”
The owner nodded as he listened.
Samuel flipped through the pages and pointed at another picture “Stainless barrel…”
“Wouldn’t the chrome-lined be better? It’ll last longer.”
“Yeah, but I’m really going for accuracy. I’d rather go steel. Oh yeah! Free float rail and
also add a monolithic upper receiver…”
They went on for a while about the rifle configuration, until they designed Samuel’s ideal
Samuel met the shopkeeper a few days later to pick up his gun.
It had been a long time coming but he finally got to the point when he could put this ‘only a good guy with a gun can stop a bad guy with a gun’ theory to the test.
He drove to one of his NRA buddies’ home, grabbed his rifle, walked to the door, rang the bell and waited. Samuel’s friend opened the door and smiled. Samuel kicked him in the stomach, pushing him inside the house. He then pointed the rifle and shot twice, killing his target. Samuel dropped a small piece of paper on the body and left. He drove away before the neighbors realized what had happened.
By the time someone called the police, Samuel had already reached a tennis club he had visited a few times before with some of his new friends. He entered with the rifle hidden in a bag. He walked to the stands overlooking the tennis courts. He sat there for a few minutes, looking around, identifying those he wanted to be his targets. They were all responsible gun owners he had met in the past few months. They were all decent people, as far as he could tell, law-abiding citizens, good family men and women. He then pulled out a notebook and wrote something on a few pages. Samuel aimed his rifle and fired. He dropped three people before anyone could see from where he was shooting. As he moved his sights to his next target, Samuel noticed that that man had managed to grab his pistol from his gym bag.
Samuel took a deep breath and waited; his rifle trained on his target. The man shot a few times in Samuel’s direction. Poor aim, not enough confidence. Fear taking over, legs shaking. People in the vicinity started yelling that he was the shooter. In the chaos, people couldn’t understand what exactly was going on.
Samuel fired, hitting the armed man in the leg first, and then in the chest, ending his life. Samuel could hear the police sirens approaching. He packed his rifle and dropped four pieces of paper on the seat. He ran to the exit, joining the terrified crowd that was leaving the club. Samuel rushed to the car and left the parking lot as the police cars approached. Someone had noticed him and informed the officers.
As the cops broke into his apartment, Samuel had reached what he knew would be his last destination, one way or another.
He entered the shooting range, smiled at Mindy behind the counter, and waved at Jerry, who was leaving to go pick up his son from soccer practice. He reached the shooting area, pulled his rifle out of the bag, and nodded at the compliments some of his friends gave him on his new weapon. He then wrote something on a piece of paper and carefully placed it under his bag, making sure a corner would stick out.
Samuel fired a few shots at the distant corrugated-plastic practice targets, before turning his weapon to other sportsmen. He killed two of them on the spot. For the first few moments, most bystanders mistook those killing shots for practice ones aimed at the targets.
In that moment the police were examining the scene at the first house Samuel had visited. They found a piece of paper. It read:
Good guy #1
Please, learn from this.
The message was followed by Samuel’s signature.
At the same time, another officer found some pieces of paper at the tennis club.
Good guy #2
Please, learn from this.
Good guy #3
Please, learn from this.
Good guy #4
Please, learn from this.
Good guy #5
Please, learn from this.
Samuel had signed all the messages.
At the shooting range, screams warned the men, women, and children who were practicing, that something was terribly wrong. Samuel had shot many more armed people.
In that, Elijah was trying out his new AR-15 M4-clone just a few stations away from Samuel’s. Elijah removed his noise-cancelling ear-muffs. Less than thirty seconds had passed since the first person had died in the shooting range. The whole place was in a panic. People ran and screamed, trampling one another. Others had dropped their weapons and hid. Some fired back at Samuel missing their mark, unable to keep their cool, even hitting some unarmed bystanders.
Elijah’s brain quickly processed what was going on. He could hear the police getting closer. He was afraid that if he'd started shooting, the police would have no way to distinguish who the bad guy was. If he'd waited too long many other people could have died. Elijah spotted Samuel. He wasn’t too far, but he was crouching behind a wooden screen separating two shooting cubicles. Elijah aimed. Samuel hadn’t noticed him yet.
The sirens grew louder. Elijah took a deep breath, held it in for a moment, and squeezed the trigger. The bullet travelled right through Samuel’s neck smashing his trachea and arteries. Samuel dropped on the floor like a deflated balloon, gasping and gurgling for air. Other club members kept shooting in Samuel’s direction. Elijah yelled to stand down, but few ceased fire.
When the cops arrived at the scene, they were met by absolute mayhem. Elijah dropped his rifle and immediately laid on the ground, opening his arms and legs, praying not to be mistaken for the crazed gunman. Others around him had not been as quick-thinking. The cops were confused, didn’t know what to do, and fired on anyone who looked like a threat. That day turned out to be horrible for all those involved.
For months, media all over the world covered what had happened. The discourse on guns had never been so enflamed. Everything about Samuel’s life had been dissected and analyzed. He obviously was a deranged individual. His whole adult life he’d been a decent teacher and had led an average life. He had never done anything that would suggest mental illness, but his actions and the messages he left were a clear sign of his instability, especially the one found at the shooting range saying:
Good guy #6 - #?
Please, learn from this.
During his psychotic mission, Samuel had hoped for just this kind of coverage, to bring upon change in America. Yet, as it often happens, people forget, and just choose what they want to believe. When the dust settled, the loudest voice was the one saying that it had been a good guy with a gun who killed the bad guy with a gun. Obviously, we need more weapons in America to defend our safety and freedom. Slowly, but inexorably, people stopped talking about all the good guys with guns killed by the bad guy and, maybe to find some comfort, focused only on the reassuring idea that “The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.”