In December, the city's Public Health Department issued a report that examined the overall health of its residents. The report detailed a number of areas of improvement, including life expectancy, infant mortality, and teen pregnancy. But one statistic jumped out: Philadelphia had the highest murder rate among the listed cities.

Philadelphia's murder rate was more than double Los Angeles' and more than triple New York's. The rate was even higher than Chicago's, though the figures were from 2014, before murders there spiraled out of control. Other cities not listed in the report- including Baltimore and Detroit - have higher rates than Philadelphia.

Regardless of where the city ranks on any given list, it's clear that gun violence remains a major public health problem in the city - even though overall crime is down.

There were 277 homicides in Philadelphia last year, compared with 280 in 2015, which was a double-digit increase from the 248 murder in 2014. (Despite the recent uptick, Philadelphia is below the more than 400 murders it averaged during the 1990s.)

Even more alarming, 1,280 people were shot in Philadelphia last year - a 4 percent increase from 2015, and 22 percent higher than 2014.

The issues surrounding gun violence are complex, and there are no simple answers. But two contributing factors stand out in Philadelphia: poverty and easy access to guns.

Philadelphia is the poorest big city in America. The city's poverty rate is 26 percent. More than 400,000 Philadelphians live below the federal poverty line, including 37 percent of children and 43 percent of Latinos, according to a report last year by the Pew Charitable Trust.

In poor neighborhoods, drugs, lack of jobs, lack of quality education, and a lack of positive male role models contribute to the violence.

Crime experts also point to the thousands of guns readily available in the city and across the state, including scores of illegal guns. A 2014 report from the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives said 8,929 illegal guns were recovered in Pennsylvania. One third of those - 3,187 - were found in Philadelphia.

The access to illegal guns in Pennsylvania spills over into neighboring states that have tougher gun laws. Indeed, Pennsylvania was the second biggest provider of illegal guns recovered in New Jersey and Delaware in 2014.

Efforts to pass commonsense gun laws have run into fierce opposition in the Republican-controlled legislature. As a result, Pennsylvania received a "C" for the strength of its gun laws from the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence.

But gun violence is not just a Philadelphia problem. More people are killed by guns than in car accidents in Pennsylvania, according to the Center for American Progress, a left-leaning public policy research and advocacy organization. Between 2005 and 2014 in Pennsylvania, 13,781 people were killed with a gun. The state's rate of gun homicides is among the highest in the nation.

In an effort to stop daily shootings, the Philadelphia Anti-Violence Coalition declared February a "Month of Peace." The noble effort barely lasted a day before a 47-year-old man was shot to death in West Philadelphia. The shootings won't stop until its causes are addressed, with tougher gun laws at the top of the list.