SAN DIEGO (CNS) - Mayor Todd Gloria, San Diego Police Chief David Nisleit and community leaders gathered Friday on National Gun Violence Awareness Day to reaffirm their commitment to work together to implement public safety reforms and raise awareness of the danger of guns.
"For too long, the gun violence epidemic in this country has stolen too many lives and torn apart countless families, and it has only intensified this past year," Gloria said. "Today underscores our collective commitment throughout our city to take meaningful action at every level of government to end senseless gun violence and make our neighborhoods safer."
National Gun Violence Awareness Day, also known as "Wear Orange Day," started after 15-year-old Hadiya Pendleton was killed by a stray bullet in Chicago, one week after performing at President Barack Obama's second inaugural parade in 2013. Pendleton's friends have preserved her memory every year by wearing orange, the color used by hunters to protect themselves.
Locally, grassroots organizations like San Diegans 4 Gun Violence Prevention and Team ENOUGH play a role in educating residents about the dangers of guns.
"Young people, who are often in harm's way, are also educating their communities and civic leaders successfully on the data surrounding gun violence," said Kara Chine, organizer of the event and board member of San Diegans 4 Gun Violence Prevention. "For every mass shooting in America that grabs headlines, there are dozens more that add up to 100 deaths-by-firearm per day on average.
"Besides pursuing sensible laws on firearms, students are helping focus efforts on suicide prevention, gang violence prevention and evidence- based community violence intervention," Chine said.
According to SDPD data, in 2020, San Diego saw a 169% increase in "ghost guns" -- firearms which can be built at home unregistered and unregulated -- impounded compared to that of the previous year.
"I am concerned about the rise in gun violence we are seeing this year," Nisleit said. "Raising awareness and collaborating with community organizations can help keep San Diego safe."
In 2019, ghost guns accounted for 4% of all guns recovered and in 2020 they accounted for 12% of guns recovered. In 2021, San Diego has already surpassed the number of ghost guns impounded in all of 2019 and is on pace to surpass that of 2020.