Jim Crawford: Innocence lost, truth remains

Published 12:00 am Thursday, May 4, 2023

Nearly a lifetime ago, Peter, Paul, and Mary made Puff the Magic Dragon an icon of the lost innocence of childhood.

Little Jackie Paper played with Puff until he outgrew his belief in playmates unseen. 

So when Jackie came to play no more, Puff “ceased his fearless roar.” Most of us, like Jackie Paper, surrender our innocence in exchange for more worldly awareness. But do our dragons really go away forever, consigned to be forgotten, or do they linger, newly named as impossible hopes surrendered?

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Some tell us there is nothing to stop gun violence in the United States. There is no hope and no innocence left to end the ever-growing reality of violence and death at the end of a bullet fired. 

No dragon can save our children, our brothers or our sisters. We must stoically embrace every senseless death, wrap each in our thoughts and prayers and leave little else to comfort us. Like Jackie Paper, we have grown to accept that there is no solution, no hope.

We know why no solution is possible. We are reminded with each death that the 2nd Amendment protects all guns all the time. We know this because the Supreme Court tells us through justices like Clarence Thomas that, no matter how the world has changed, we must see the Constitution as 1787 saw the issues of that time. We know this claim is absurd, yet it prevails as though dragons still live among us.

We know that 32 percent of Americans (Gallup 2020) own the nearly 400 million guns that nurture the violence in America. And these gun owners demand more and more guns to, arguably, protect freedom from tyranny. Or, among the gentler claims, because gun owners just enjoy shooting weapons created to kill humans rapidly for “practice.”

So, there we are. Our Republican friends say any gun regulation designed to save a life is absolutely out of the question. No to registering guns. No to background checks. No to “red flag” laws. No to ending the sale of rapid-fire weapons. No.

But the is a better answer than “No.” There is a better narrative than hopelessness. There is a more authentic reality than accepting our schools as killing fields and our children at risk every time they leave home for school. The problem is not the Constitution; it is the justices who misread the Constitution to sanctify all guns; it is the elected officials who protect the guns but not the children; it is the idea that anything can trump safeguarding the children.

The state of Washington joined 10 other states by banning assault weapons this week, weapons like the AR-15 used in Newtown, Parkland, Uvalde and elsewhere for murdering our children. It is a beginning, but so much is still to be done. The time has come to end the debate. It is the guns that are killing us. The nation with the most guns is the nation with the most killings. The nation with the most guns is the only nation killing its children in mass murders. The country with the most guns has the most suicides by firearms.

America has the same issues with mental health as any other nation, but no other country kills as America kills. Mental health is not what is killing our kids. Guns are killing our kids. Cowards who hide behind the 2nd Amendment, phony militia men who envision insurrection, and gun enthusiasts who enjoy shooting all have one thing in common: guns are sacred. Kids, not so much.

We may have lost our innocence and forgotten our hopes, but we cannot afford to lose our truths.

Jim Crawford is a retired educator and political enthusiast living here in the Tri-State.