Gun violence continues to plague America. Here's how to talk about it.

·2 min read

Good morning, friends:

When I was in high school in the Chicago area, we had fire drills and the occasional tornado drill, but we never imagined students in the future would be practicing active shooter drills.

The shooting at an Oxford, Michigan, high school, where a student is accused of killing four peers and injuring several others on Nov. 30, brings that sad message home.

It reminded me of when I first met Marcel Hernandez, executive director of the nonprofit Be About Change, which works to help youth thrive. He was my guest for a live video conversation about how to speak about gun violence.

The reason for that topic was the 2018 Parkland, Florida, shooting where a student murdered 17 people, mostly his peers.

Too often, people tend to entrench themselves in one side or another. You are either for the Second Amendment or for taking guns away. You are for creating regulations to control guns or you want the Wild West on our streets.

Hernandez demonstrated for the audience how it does not have to be a binary proposition, and people can be in the same room together with differing views and discuss solutions to problems in meaningful ways.

I offer his guest column from that time because it is still so relevant today.

"In an issue like gun violence, the great thing about active listening — especially when we disagree — is that the person can give us information we might not otherwise have," he wrote. "At the extreme, that information could be life-saving. At minimum, it can widen our perspective."

Scroll to watch the conversation.

Here's what else you will find in this week's Latino Tennessee Voices newsletter:

  • Education: High school graduation rates in Tennessee dropped for the second year in a row. The average rate is now 88.7%. For Latinos, it's 83%.

  • Immigration: A video podcast with immigration attorney Mario Ramos, whose family moved from Colombia to Knoxville, Tennessee. He now resides in Nashville.

  • Politics: The U.S. Justice Department is suing Texas over its new congressional district maps, accusing the Lone Star State of disenfranchising Latino and Black voters. This has implications for all states.

  • Photos: If you have not followed the work of my colleague, photojournalist Stephanie Amador, I recommend it highly. In this photo gallery, she chronicles the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine trial at Vanderbilt.

What else to read

If you are an aspiring or current journalist, check out the National Association of Hispanic Journalists. I am a lifetime member, and one of my favorite offerings of NAHJ is palabra., a platform, which allows Latino freelancers to share their work about their community. The featured article when I wrote today's newsletter was called "The (Cuban) American Pastime," a story about baseball by Rich Tenorio.

Remember to send me your story ideas, announcements and tips, please. Share your reading, listening and other recommendations with me too.

Stay safe and healthy. ¡Muchas gracias!

David Plazas is the director of opinion and engagement for the USA TODAY Network Tennessee. He is of Colombian and Cuban descent, has studied or worked in several Spanish-speaking countries, and was the founding editor of Gaceta Tropical in Southwest Florida. He has lived in Tennessee since 2014. Call him at (615) 259-8063, email him at dplazas@tennessean.com or tweet to him at @davidplazas.

This article originally appeared on Nashville Tennessean: Gun violence: Tragedy still plagues America. Here's how to discuss it.