An epidemic is sweeping American society that can't be conquered with vaccines, whose cause can't be identified with a microscope and which is claiming young victims at record rates.

Bullets, not microbes, are taking young lives at what many experts consider alarming rates. In many areas, yesterday's schoolyard fistfights have become today's drive-by shootings. They say that for increasing numbers of young people, violence is viewed as a legitimate way to solve conflict and that the fist has become obsolete in the face of firearms.

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