I am consumed with the dozen plus murdered children this summer, and I search for common threads.
Do they all live in the same neighborhood? Did they live in two-parent homes? What time were they killed, and what were they doing?
In my search for answers for these terrible cases, I found one. Charnija Keys, 11, who was shot June 11. I believe her death could have been prevented.
A loaded gun should never be in reach of a child. Never. Charnija’s mother was afraid; she believed a gun would protect her. She showed her daughter where the gun was and told her not to touch it.
When I served on the Missouri Children’s Trust Fund Board, I urged them to address this issue, but they said no. Instead, they chose other concerns that certainly were important. They also said no to recommending a law to require weapons be kept under lock and key, and add the issue to our media campaigns.
The government requires a test before you can legally drive a car. Why not do the same with a gun? Charnija’s mother was allowed to take home two babies without any proof that she had the knowledge to keep them safe.
Charnija shot herself. But we allowed it to happen by our indifference, our fear of shedding light on this issue and our lack of commitment to educate parents.
This was one case in which we could prevented a little child from dying.
Susan E Block • Clayton
Retired Judge, St. Louis County Family Court