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There has never been a more urgent time to address inner city gun violence, a force that our society has been helpless to resist. The Children's Defense Fund reported that between 1963 and 2010, nearly 60,000 black children and teenagers have been killed by guns. This is more than 17 times the number of black Americans lynched between 1862 and 1968.

Medical academics consider gun violence a public health issue, challenging the assumption that individual behavior and mandatory sentencing for unlicensed firearms will sufficiently address the problem. However, since the 1990s, a lobbying effort led by the National Rifle Association has prompted Congress to effectively cut off funding for Centers for Disease Control and Prevention research on the epidemic's causes and effects.

The Obama administration took steps last year to restart this research, but it will take years to complete studies so that lawmakers can implement evidence-based legislation. Wholistic understanding of the issue will require sensitivity to societal factors that may not appear in the data for a long time.

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