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How will researchers spend $25M in gun safety funding?

Crystal Turner fell apart when two of her four children were shot and killed in Columbus, Ohio, nearly five years ago.

Her son, Donell McDonald, 23, and her daughter, Jenea Harvison, 29, were both gunned down by Harvison’s estranged husband at a daycare facility Harvison owned.

“Nothing prepares you,” Turner said. “That one event has changed our lives forever.”

Turner and her family are not alone. Firearm-related injuries kill nearly 40,000 Americans each year — more than die in fatal car crashes — and the nation’s firearm homicide rate is more than 25 times that of comparable affluent countries.

While researchers have long said the gun violence problem should be evaluated like any other public health epidemic, there’s been meager funding for research for the past two decades.

That’s finally changing.

Crystal Turner poses for a portrait on Tuesday, January 14, 2020 at Southside Settlement Heritage Park in Columbus, Ohio.

In December, Congress approved $25 million in federal funding to study gun safety. The money, to be split evenly between the National Institutes of Health and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, will be used to examine gun violence from a public health perspective.

Experts in the field concede the amount is small in comparison to the scope of the issue but are celebrating it as a watershed moment for gun safety. They say researchers may finally be able to answer basic questions about gun ownership and evaluate the effectiveness of firearm policies and violence prevention efforts.

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