Traffic accident research led to the discovery that many deaths were the result of impacts inside the car, not the car hitting a tree, for example.
That, Pollack said, is why we have airbags and seat belts. Those lifesaving additions to cars were a direct result of the tedious research.
That is how guns should be addressed, he said.
"We have to be able to use the tools that we have ... to try and make sensible policy," Pollack said. "If our data about critical matters is left in a dusty box of a basement in a courthouse, there isn't a whole lot we can do."
Obama has ordered the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other federal agencies to immediately begin research on gun violence, its impact and any prevention measures.
There is only one hurdle standing in the way: Congress has to give them funding.
Tracing gun sales
It can takes weeks or even months, if law enforcement is lucky, to trace a gun back to its origin.
Because many states don't require guns to be registered, or private sales to be documented, no one really knows who owns many of the guns in circulation in the United States.
That means authorities are often unable to find out how criminals got their guns.
While most people assume, perhaps because of TV shows or movies, that authorities can plug in a serial number and gather all the data about a gun, Mike Bouchard said that actually couldn't be further from the truth.
Bouchard, who works with firearm dealers to make sure they are compliant with the law, likens the situation to underage drinking: If someone can't get a beer, they may find someone who can buy it for them. The same is true of guns, he said.
"The rules are easily defeated," he said. "If (criminals) want a gun they are going to get a gun."
That's a hole that President Obama hopes to address with universal background checks, stronger control of gun sales and laws that would make it a crime to sell your own gun to someone without a background check.
Universal background checks would mark an important turning point in stemming gun violence, according to gun control advocate Lindsay Nichols.
"This may be the single most important gun violence prevention measure that the government could adopt," said Nichols, an attorney with the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence. She said it would close a loophole that gave "dangerous criminals and dangerously mentally ill individuals ... a most unfettered access to firearms."
But NRA president David Keene suggested to CNN's Candy Crowley that he has little faith in universal background checks, saying they don't work.
That's because, Bouchard said, it assumes criminals will follow the law.
"These criminals don't care what the law says," he said.
While he said he believes expanding background checks is a step in the right direction, Bouchard said the real solution would be creating a database that tracks weapons purchases.
"If people knew every transaction of a gun was going to be recorded somewhere, I think they'd be more responsible with who they transferred their weapon to," he said.
Based on his experience, Bouchard said it would be pretty easy to establish a database to track weapon purchases and sales on a national level.
But he admits he doesn't know anyone who supports a nationwide gun registration.
Experts know that reducing the number of Americans killed by guns isn't a problem that will be solved overnight, let alone in a few years. It may take a long-term game of trial and error.
But with 12,000 to 15,000 people being killed by guns each year, Bouchard said the country has to start somewhere. Anywhere.