New study highlights Black homicide victimization rates in Tennessee

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — A study published on Tuesday from the Violence Policy Center looks deeper into the disproportionate amount of Black Americans killed through homicides in the U.S.

Based on FBI statistics from 2018, research showed 330 Black Tennesseans were murdered. VPC data ranks Tennessee as sixth in the country for its Black homicide victimization rate.

“It has a rate of about 27.5 per 100,000 as far as Black homicide victimization. That is one and a half times the national rate,” VPC Executive Director Josh Sugarmann said.

According to the TBI online database, those numbers are slightly different. In 2018, out of 513 total murders, 315 victims were Black, 188 white, and 10 of another race.

In 2019, the TBI reports 516 total murder victims throughout the year. Of those victims, 314 were identified as Black, 194 white, and eight other.

“Now if you dig down state by state you’ll find varieties for a number of reasons. Who in a state is reporting, who’s not reporting, has information reached the federal government yet,” Sugarmann said.

Sugarmann said the organization has conducted nationwide research for the last 15 years on multiple issues with homicide rates. He hopes the data can highlight the issues playing a role in the overall problem.

VPC research in this recent study show 89% of those 330 Black murder victims from 2018 were killed with a gun. Additionally, two-thirds of that 89% were found to be a handgun.

“Because of the high density of gun ownership, these states have very clear and measurable gun problems,” Sugarmann said.

Other issues the study researched include age of the victims, gender, victim/offender relationship, and circumstance of the incident.

Sugarmann says the goal of this research is also to create change at state and nationwide levels. He says gun violence could be restricted further in states that reach the top of his research.

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