Horizon’s Gun Violence Protest


Ayla Wize

Author’s Note: Some students’ faces are blurred out of respect and right to privacy. The Journalism Team does not regard any of these photos as evidence to be used in any cases against these students, most of whom were well within their First Amendment Rights. All photos are property of the Journalism Department of Horizon High School. If you have any questions, please contact the author of this article.

On Wednesday 5th, 2023, the United States experienced a mass student walk-out, protesting gun legislation and gun violence, taking place after recent mass shootings in the United States. The protest was nationally organized by students and was modeled after walkouts done by members of the SDS (Students for a Democratic Society). The protest, also taking place at Horizon High School, lasted from 12:00 pm to 1:15 pm.

The student’s right to protest has been protected by the First Amendment since 1969, following the “Tinker vs Des Moines Independent Community School District” decision. The case, taking place before the Supreme Court in 1968, was over a student protest taking place in 1965, which concerned the support for a truce in the Vietnam War. The school had prohibited students from peacefully protesting- which the Supreme Court had decided that the school violated the students rights, particularly their First Amendment rights, which allowed them the right to peaceful protest and assembly.

Horizon High School students exercised this right on Wednesday the 5th- walking out en masse at 12:00 pm, one hour before the school day would end. The students carried signs detailing their protest, and walked out the front entrance of the school, to be met by Principle Fleeman, Mr. Tonjes, and Officer Dusky.  The students met no resistance from these administrators and the  police officer, who were there simply to be sure that the student’s safety was ensured. 

As the first group of protestors walked out, they began chanting and holding up their signs, several of which sported quotes such as “Thought and Prayers”, “I should be writing essays, not my will”, and “Am I next?”. Large groups of students began to walk out of the school roughly ten minutes after the protest started, and joined the first group of protesters. The groups began to mobilize, spreading around all main entrances and exits to the school, holding up signs and chanting various things, such as “Hey, Hey, Hey, NRA! How Many Kids Have You Killed Today?”, “Thoughts and Prayers Aren Enough!”, and “No More Silence, End Gun Violence!”.

An interview with an anonymous protester allowed for further insight as to why they were protesting. “Gun violence should not have gotten as bad as it has”, they stated. “I’m scared each day that I’m going to be next” stated another protestor. However, when asked if they were protesting on a national level or state level, three of the ten students interviewed had a response. Seven students, when asked, stated that they “weren’t really sure”, while the other three had stated, “we are protesting on a national level”. “This affects everybody, not just us. We shouldn’t be afraid of getting f****** shot just because we’re at school,” states another protester, who will remain anonymous.

It was clear that although many of the students participating in the protest were there for noble reasons, several other groups of students were there simply to get out of class. One of our reporters was asked to take a photo of three students, who wanted to “pose for gun violence”. It was not clear whether or not they were doing a pose in support of or against gun violence. Other students were seen not participating in the protests, instead standing behind the protesters and speaking to their friends. It was revealed later on that if a person had shown up late to class, most teachers would excuse it due to the protest.

Furthermore, it became clear that other students wanted to protest the protesters. At 1:03 pm, when protesters had moved to the hill facing the front entrance, one student, in particular,  began shouting at the protesters. Once the protesters began chanting “No More Silence, End Gun Violence!” the student yelled, “Bring [gun violence] it back!”. The student then proceeded to say “I’m gonna-” before noticing that one of our reporters was taking pictures of them. They proceeded to state that what they said was a “joke” before walking away. It seems that, according to our reporters, the student was trying to start a response similar to what occurred at the Abortion Rights Protest (a protest concerning the overturning of Roe v. Wade) last year, which also took place at Horizon. During that protest, a group of students pulled out Trump flags and “Dont Tread on Me” flags, before running around the group of protesters. What the unnamed student seemed to be unable to realize, however, is that you need to actually be somewhat charismatic to get any attention.

The protest ended at 1:15 pm, roughly fifteen minutes after school. It is not clear who was present at the protest, and will not be revealed by any member of the journalism team. All photos used in this article are edited and are not meant to be used in a case against any of the students at Horizon High School. Nothing is known about the students participating in the protest, and this article is not any proof of attendance or guilt. Several events that have occurred at the protest have deliberately been censored in this article, for sake of student and faculty safety.