Skip to main content

KPBS Radio is undergoing scheduled upgrade work which may result in temporary signal outages.

LATEST UPDATES: Tracking COVID-19 | Vaccines | Tokyo Olympics

As Gun Violence Rises In San Diego, Local Leaders Call For Greater Awareness

A pistol lies on the counter at San Diego Guns, June 16, 2020.

Photo by Roland Lizarondo

Above: A pistol lies on the counter at San Diego Guns, June 16, 2020.

At the onset of the pandemic, San Diego residents turned out in droves to gun shops — worried that the deadly virus would cause a breakdown of civil society. While the worst fears of gun buyers weren’t realized, there has been a significant rise in gun violence here and elsewhere.

On Friday morning in City Heights, Mayor Todd Gloria marked Gun Violence Awareness Day, part of a national day of action meant to highlight the impact of gun violence on communities.

Listen to this story by Max Rivlin-Nadler.

“Let’s be really clear. Gun violence is an epidemic in this country. In many ways it’s unique to this country,” Gloria said. “And that’s why we’re here. Because we know it doesn’t have to be this way. We want to see change in America.”

Homicides in San Diego were up 35% in 2020 from the prior year, and two-thirds of the killings involved a gun.

Chief Nisleit said a pursuit with a drunk driver on Thursday night in City Heights ended with a recovery of a ghost gun. A ghost gun is assembled with parts from multiple guns so it can’t be traced through firearm registries.

Approaches to stemming gun violence in San Diego have differed. City Attorney Mara Elliot has says the county leads California in gun confiscations under the state’s Red Flag Law, which allows law enforcement to proactively take guns away from people who are at risk of committing violence. In 2020, county authorities confiscated guns in 483 separate instances.

RELATED: City Leaders Begin ‘No Shots Fired’ Program To Reduce Gun Violence

Bishop Cornelius Bowser helps lead Shaphat Outreach, a San Diego faith-based organization that advocates for alternatives to the punitive approach law enforcement takes toward people likely to engage in gun violence. For example, it works with active gang members to mediate disputes in a way that avoids violence

“That’s how you prevent violence, that’s how you intervene in the violence. You go to those individuals that are involved in it and help them,” Bowser told KPBS. “Would everyone listen? No. But data and research has shown that you can have an impact and decrease violence if you reach that population that’s committing the violence.”

Bowser is working with city officials in hopes that they will allocate further funding for his group.


San Diego News Now podcast branding

San Diego news; when you want it, where you want it. Get local stories on politics, education, health, environment, the border and more. New episodes are ready weekday mornings. Hosted by Anica Colbert and produced by KPBS, San Diego and the Imperial County's NPR and PBS station.

  • Need help keeping up with the news that matters most? Get the day's top news — ranging from local to international — straight to your inbox each weekday morning.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Curious San Diego banner

Want more KPBS news?
Find us on Twitter and Facebook, or sign up for our newsletters.

To view PDF documents, Download Acrobat Reader.