by Chris Marchioni, MD, Healthy Learning Paths, Advocate for Children
As a physician, my challenge is to keep kids healthy. But to help children stay healthy, we must first keep them alive. In the US, too many children experience an abrupt and brutal end to life. The deaths of children are an unacceptable price to pay for what some leaders describe as freedom. Loss of innocent lives is a misguided and dangerous excuse for false freedom.
In a country that boasts freedom, what freedoms do children have? In the US, children are free to be maimed and murdered in schools. Children are free to be hunted like animals and murdered in movie theaters and churches. The cowardly excuses our leaders claim for these senseless murders are “mental health problems.” Mental illness has been in the US for centuries. However, these cold-blooded, mass murders are recent and common events that directly relate to easy access of guns. It is troubling to witness leaders who run from their responsibility to keep citizens safe and who also show an indifference to the violence plagued by America.
We must ask some hard questions. What kind of leaders ignore the lives of their youngest citizens? In a country that states security of its people is the highest priority, how can politicians turn their backs on protecting the lives of children? Are murders of innocent children and adults the result of the depraved indifference to human life by politicians?
What is depraved indifference to human life? Depraved means corrupt or cruel. Indifference means insignificant or unimportant. As defined by US law, “depraved-indifference murder is an action where someone acts with a ‘depraved indifference’ to human life and the act results in a death. In a depraved-indifference murder, individuals commit an act with the knowledge that their act runs a high risk of causing death or serious bodily harm to a person or persons. If the risk of death or bodily harm is great enough, ignoring it demonstrates a depraved indifference to human life.” The resulting death can be charged as first degree murder, second degree murder, or varying degrees of manslaughter depending on individual state law definitions. In some states, prosecutors find it easier to prove extreme indifference, because they are not required to demonstrate an intent to kill a person, but must show conduct that creates a risk of death to a person or persons. This law was created to deter excessively dangerous behavior and provide additional punishment for cruel crimes.
Consider the legal argument that allowing the easy access of guns in the US results in the death of innocent children. Factual statistics such as the massacres in Texas and Sandy Hook support this argument. Members of Congress and local politicians are well informed about violent murders and suicides linked to guns throughout the US. The policy to allow easy access to guns represents a “depraved indifference” to human life due to the well-established high risk of causing death or serious bodily harm to many children and adults in the US.
A culture that allows mass murder of its own people represents depraved indifference to human life. For US leaders to blame “mental health problems” for the mass shootings of innocent children is shameful, destructive, and an insult to many who suffer from mental illness. Politicians cry mental illness and prayer as they shirk their responsibility to the children who they are supposed to protect. These same leaders would have us believe that this killing is a normal part of freedom. It is not. Our leaders have admired the problem of gun violence too long and have become too comfortable with mass murders of children. Do the lives of children no longer matter in America?
All kids’ lives matter. It is time to speak out and stand up for innocent children. It is time to hold politicians at every level accountable for the protection of its citizens especially our children. If we cannot protect children in our own country, we will never promote peace anywhere in the world. It is time to use our voices, our actions, and our intelligence to find new leaders with integrity and a hunger for protecting rather than killing its own citizens. It is time to find leaders who value the rights of children and will work to keep all children of American safe and healthy.
Politicians have turned our culture into horror for our most innocent children. This problem calls for a grass roots effort. Every individual can find purpose in this effort. Our shared purpose is to work to keep children safe, so they can live. It is time to find leaders who are more passionate about the health and safety of our children than they are about the amount of dollars in their bank accounts. It’s time to find leaders who have the courage and commitment to protect and serve our children. This protection starts with restricting deadly guns.
Let’s start at local levels with a single cause the health and safety of children. Let’s identify leaders who will take up this cause and do our best to support these leaders in business, education, health care, and most of all politics. Let’s remove the deadly violence of guns from our culture and give children a chance at life and at a future.
Let’s work together as if the lives of children depend on us because the lives of children are exactly what is at stake.