The main entrance of Massachusetts General Hospital is seen in 2016. (Elise Amendola/AP) A new center focused on gun violence opens Monday at Massachusetts General Hospital, aimed at combating what the hospital calls a "public health crisis." The Center for Gun Violence Prevention will teach doctors and nurses how discuss firearm safety with patients. Get the latest health, medicine and science news sent to your inbox each week with CommonHealth’s newsletter. Subscribe here . The effort builds on an existing coalition against gun violence that was formed by a group of MGH clinicians in 2015. The hospital has committed $1.2 million over the next three years to fund its effort, along with a two-year, $200,000 commitment from Harvard Medical School. Co-director Dr. Chana Sacks says the center will also conduct research into gun injuries and deaths despite federal obstacles. "With nearly 40,000 people a year dying, we have a responsibility as people in the health care system to tackle that issue the way we would any issue that’s affecting our patients," Sacks said. "So it’s not that we’re choosing this issue, it’s choosing us." Some physicians and gun rights groups say firearm safety is not a medical or public health issue and that doctors should not be asking patients about guns. The center’s first initiative is to conduct gun violence simulation trainings for clinicians, which MGH says began earlier this month.