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Health professionals call for action to address gun violence
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Leaders from the nation's top health professional organizations have issued a call to action on gun violence, co-signing an article published Monday in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

The groups declared their "collective backing for universal background checks, a ban on military-style assault weapons and large capacity magazines, more federal support for gun-injury research and an end to laws that would punish physicians who discuss the safety of gun ownership with their patients," the Los Angeles Times reported.

The thrust of the article was that gun-related deaths and injuries should no longer be seen only as a matter of criminal violence, but also as a public health crisis.

"Each year, more than 32,000 persons die as a result of firearm-related violence, suicides and accidents in the United States," the authors noted. "What's more, the number of nonfatal firearm injuries is more than double the number of deaths. Although much more attention has been given to the mass shootings that have occurred in the United States in recent years, the 88 deaths per day due to firearm-related homicides, suicides and unintentional deaths are equally concerning."

Earlier this year, the Center for American Progress reported that gun violence is expected to surpass car crashes in 2015 as the leading cause of death for Americans under 25. CAP's study showed gun violence disproportionately impacts young people. Both victims and perpetrators of these crimes often belong to that group.

In January, The Atlantic used CAP's research in an article exploring the struggle to use gun data to build effective policies. "Firearm safety remains one of the most divisive issues in the country, with advocates on both sides cherry-picking data to support arguments about the extent to which gun regulation is necessary," it concluded.

Acknowledging this situation, the article's co-authors wrote that giving health officials more power in the struggle against gun violence could lead to better and less politicized solutions.

"They likened guns to motor vehicles, tobacco and potentially hazardous household products, noting that when public health research guides advocacy, the result is fewer deaths and injuries from such sources," the L.A. Times reported.

The organizations behind the new article were the American Academy of Family Physicians, American Academy of Pediatrics, American College of Emergency Physicians, American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, American College of Physicians, American College of Surgeons, American Psychiatric Association, American Public Health Association and the American Bar Association.