A local shooting, closed border and genetic modifications

11/19-11/25 Know/inform/care


The United States has had four mass shootings in the past month alone.


Know: Thomas Bruce allegedly sexually abused three and murdered one woman at a Catholic Supply store, Nov. 19.

Inform: Bruce, 53, allegedly entered the store in Ballwin around 3:19 p.m. He sexually abused three women at gunpoint before killing Jamie Schmidt, a customer at the store. After his rampage, Bruce left the scene, launching a manhunt for the armed gunman on the loose. Police arrested Bruce two days later, charging him with murder, sodomy, armed criminal action, kidnapping, burglary and tampering with evidence, Nov. 21. Bruce,a former Navy veteran, has no known criminal record with only a traffic ticket to his name. He founded an evangelical church in 2003 working as a pastor there for four years. Additionally, he used social media to speak out against gun control and veterans’ issues. Bruce is jailed without bond and may be eligible for the death penalty.

Care: Bruce’s attack comes 11 days after Ian David Long killed 12 at a bar shooting in Thousand Oaks, California, Nov. 8, 16 days after Scott Bierle killed two in a Florida yoga studio and 22 days after Robert Bowers killed 11 in a Pittsburgh synagogue. The United States has the worst gun violence in the world, with over 11,000 firearm-related deaths each year. The House of Representatives has promised to evaluate and eliminate mass shootings after the Democrats took the majority of the House, Nov. 6. Despite the shooting being at a religious-affiliated store, authorities are not considering it a hate crime saying that the motive is far from clear.



Know: The United States closed off a major crossing at the United States-Mexico border, Nov. 25.

Inform: A caravan of 7,000 Central American migrants fleeing poverty and violence seeking asylum in America began, Oct.  21. The caravan began when immigrants seeking asylum in Mexico found the asylum application process too long and chose to head even farther north. That figure has shrunk to as many as 5,000 camped in Tijuana, a city just south of California. The U.S. shut down the San Ysidro border, only five-and-a-half miles from Tijuana after immigrants began storming the border, throwing rocks and bottles at Customs and Border Protection officers. The officers also fired tear gas onto the immigrants. While the exact number of immigrants who stormed the border is unknown, news sources estimate the number to be a few hundred, a relatively small amount compared to the 100,000 that visit the San Ysidro border each day. CBP reopened the port of entry only seven hours after they initially closed it.

Care: Mexico announced that they would deport any immigrant who chose to violently attack the border, ultimately deporting 500. If the U.S. denies entry to those seeking asylum and Mexico begins to deport them, many of the migrants are going to end up in the same conditions they have been trying to escape. Research estimates that by 2050, 93 percent of working Americans will be either immigrants or children of immigrants. Twenty-million Americans today are second-generation immigrants alone. With nearly all Americans being some product of immigration, the issue of immigration laws can become very personal.


Know: A Chinese scientist claims to have made the first genetically-edited babies.

Inform: He Jiankui altered the DNA of seven couples’ embryos with only one pregnancy so far. The pregnancy resulted in twin girls. Jiankui’s goal is to pass on traits that not many people naturally have. The scientist is aiming to disable CCR5, the gene that allows for HIV, the AIDS virus to enter a cell. The father of the twins that Jiankui worked on has HIV and never thought he could be a father, but through the modification, the twins did not contract the virus. Jiankui originally began editing genes in mice and monkeys before taking on human patients. Gene-editing is done using the CRISPR-cas9, a tool that can remove, add or alter sections of a DNA sequence. The Chinese attempt at genetic modification of embryos is the first of its kind, as research has only been done in adults. Jiankui chose to edit embryo DNA because the changes can be inherited.

Care: Chinese officials report that there are 820,000 people living in China with HIV. While Jiankui made an attempt to prevent such a deadly virus, he has faced backlash from the international science community. DNA modification is illegal in most countries including the United States. Over 100 scientists have signed a petition calling for stricter oversight of genetic modification experiments. Michael Deem of Rice University is said to have worked on the experiment with Jiankui. Although he worked with Jiankui in Hong Kong, where it was legal, Rice is still conducting an investigation on Deem’s involvement. Scientific advances often cause scientists to push boundaries, leading them to walk the undefined line of ethics.