KNOXVILLE, TN (WSMV) - A Tennessee Lawmaker is calling the number of African Americans killed in Tennessee a public health crisis. 

Rep. Rick Staples (D-Knoxville), has filed a bill calling for a statewide study of homicide cases. Staples says information from the Violence Policy Center claims the homicide rate for African Americans is five times higher in Tennessee than the national average. The Tennessee Advisory Commission on Intergovernmental Relations would handle the study.

"We all were taken aback; no one was aware of this issue," Staples said. "Now that we have the knowledge, we just can't stand idly by while groups in our communities...why individuals who look like me are losing their lives everyday."

Several groups all over the Mid-State are working in our communities to help combat this issue. 

Staples hopes the study will be completed before February 2021. 

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A New York City native and a graduate of the Mizzou School of Journalism, Ethan joined the WSMV Digital Team in June 2019. Send Ethan story ideas, food recommendations and sports debate topics to Ethan.Illers@wsmv.com and follow him on Twiiter @ethanWSMV!

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A graduate of the University of Florida, Cameron joined News4 in December 2018.

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