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San Diego students walk out of school to protest gun violence

Students at Patrick Henry High School walked out of class at lunchtime Tuesday, joining thousands of others across the country in support of gun control reform.

They were part of the national Students Demand Action for Gun Sense in America walkout.

The Del Cerro campus has become the center of protest and activism for many young people who want to be heard, demanding their school is a safe space after they say they experienced a threat of their own.

“When we heard yesterday there was a potential threat of a school shooting during our rally, suddenly it wasn’t impossible or far-fetched. It was way too real,” said Xander Carig, a senior at the school.

Unlike past protests at Patrick Henry High School, administrators did not welcome the attention. The principal and vice-principal asked the media to leave the property at the time of the walkout. Junior Shukriya Osman helped organize the event, and joined Cariq to speak to reporters off campus.

“A student might come and cause violence at my school,” she told KPBS News. “Not only a student but anybody. Anybody who’s 18 can have access to a rifle. That’s insane.”

M.G. Perez
Shukriya Osman is in the 11th-grade and Xander Carig is a senior at Patrick Henry High School. They spoke with reporters off school property about their support for gun control reform, Del Cerro, CA, June 7, 2022.

The conversation about gun violence is an emotional one, and it’s not simple. Gun owners have their own impressions of what should happen following yet another school shooting.

“It’s not the gun, alright, it's a societal failure,” said Matt Klier, who operates the Active Shooter Defense School in Dulzura. Klier is a decorated military man who served for twelve years with the U.S. Navy Seabees. He also participated in military SWAT teams and trained Navy Seals in combat before retiring in 2013.

Students at his school include law enforcement officers and parents with their teenage children.

“We teach people how to fight and how to shoot. We teach you how to do it so well that you can think about other things in the situation if you know how to do something to the point where you don’t have to think about it,” he said. “You can think about everything else going on in the room at the moment.”

Klier offers 8-hour training classes and also multi-day programs in shooting various types of weapons. He is so committed to the 2nd Amendment and gun use education, that he is making an offer to any San Diego educator willing to take him up on it.

“School teachers train for free. I’m not going to provide ammo but you bring your own gun and ammo and we will teach you how to use them,” he said.

Norah Zlotnik, 15, and Meno Vo, 15, are students who joined the walkout and rally at Patrick Henry High School, Tuesday, Del Cerro, CA, June 7, 2022.

Back at Patrick Henry High, students returned to class from the walkout after lunch. They plan future rallies, which they will announce through a new Instagram page created for their gun control movement.

“It needs people who are willing to take the moment to speak out.” Xander Carig said speaking before reporters, “It takes a ripple to start a wave.”