PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Philadelphia city council declared gun violence a “public health epidemic,” at its meeting on Thursday as a symbolic gesture but sponsors hope it spurs action.

Councilman Curtis Jones lost a friend to random gunfire, as he walked with her and other friends to a party, when he was just 16. More than 20 years later, another friend who was in that group, lost her son to gunfire, which brought home a realization.

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“This violence has become generational,” he said. “It is not going away on its own and if we don’t treat it like the health crisis that it is, we are not getting to it.”

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Jones co-sponsored the resolution, which carries no actual weight, but was welcomed by activists such as Dorothy Johnson-Speight of Mothers in Charge.

“You’ve heard about Zika and different diseases that have deemed public health epidemic and often times those federal dollars will come in to those situations and provide the resources and success that’s needed to stop the spread of it,” she said.

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Well we want the same thing for homicide, we want the federal government and those that are involved in understanding this is a public health epidemic to put those same dollars into our communities to stop the spread of homicide