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SAN DIEGO — Community groups and city leaders held an online forum Thursday to discuss gun violence in San Diego and the steps that can be taken to prevent it.

“The city has seen a steep increase in the number of shooting investigations just in 2021 alone,” Mayor Todd Gloria said. “In fact, January of this year was the deadliest month for gun homicides since 2007.”

The California Violence Intervention and Prevention, or “CalVIP,” grant program is relied upon by local violence prevention groups, proving to be one of the most effective ways to reduce violence, particularly in underserved neighborhoods.

“With the poverty that’s going on, a lot of people don’t have resources,” Pastor Jesus Sandoval said. “They will do whatever they need to do to make a quick buck, so these resources that we can invest on the front end, it would be a greater cost savings on the tail end of it.”

In addition to the ongoing efforts to secure CalVIP funding, efforts to pass ghost gun legislation at the state and city level were also discussed.

“People have already been hurt by ghost guns even in these past few weeks,” said Stephan Abrams, a gun violence prevention advocate. “Even in the busiest of districts all the way downtown in the Gaslamp area, there was a shooting that had a ghost gun.”

He added, “This is an issue that we can solve. There’s no reason that a minor or anyone who shouldn’t be able to purchase a gun should be able to get one so easy.”

Community groups statewide have asked for more than $100 million in grant funding for violence prevention.

Gloria says he’s asked the governor to increase that funding for this year and the coming years.