Before Ghost Gun: “Lockdown Procedure” by Olivia Ridley

Seamus Murphy, Copy Editor


Olivia Ridley, then freshman, performing “Lockdown Procedure” on April 20, 2018.

On Dec. 14, performances of West Orange High School senior Olivia Ridley’s latest play, Ghost Gun, premiered, tackling the issue of gun violence for a playwriting contest held by #ENOUGH. Although Ghost Gun looks at a different aspect of the issue, this was not her first time writing about gun violence. During her freshman year on April 20, 2018, she performed her poem “Lockdown Procedure” for a WOHS student walkout, protesting for gun control after the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting.

When describing the relation between the two pieces, Ridley said that although “they are about very different issues, they’re still a part of the same conversation.”

Ridley has provided the Pioneer with a copy of the poem, allowing it to be published online for the first time. The full interview with her about Ghost Gun will be published as well.

“Lockdown Procedure” by Olivia Ridley

When you hear over the loudspeaker that there is a lockdown, your heart does not always beat harder.

You’ve had drills before.

This is just a drill.

This is just a drill.

And so you crouch under desks and wait for it to pass.


When 15 minutes go by, 

You continue to sit still, wondering why the drill wasn’t over yet

When you hear the first gunshot

When you hear the first gunshot…

I can’t continue that sentence.

I can’t tell you what comes next.

I’ve been so lucky to tell you that I can’t tell you what comes next because I have never heard that first gunshot

But those kids did.

And that was the last thing 17 of them heard.


That night, pictures were plastered on tv screens across the country

Showing flurries of children running from the building and into the arms of their parents

Parents, holding them in their arms

Parents, savoring the feeling of their heart still beating

Parents waiting.

Parents still waiting

Parents wondering whether they said “I Love you” when their child slipped through the front door for the very 

last time that morning 

Parents telling themselves that they did

Parents swearing that they didn’t.


President Donald J. Trump suggested that we equip teachers with guns in case of an emergency

Fight fire with guns

Light a match and throw it into this already raging blaze.


Two weeks after the shooting, in Dalton, Georgia, a social studies teacher trapped himself and his students in a hallway and proceeded to pull and point a gun on them, firing once before someone intervened


So please, tell me it’s a great idea to keep guns in desk drawers.

We do not keep guns from students.

We do not keep guns from teachers.

We keep guns from mental instability.

Depression doesn’t discriminate.

Mental illness doesn’t discriminate.

Mental instability doesn’t discriminate

Mental instability can inject itself into anyone under the sun

Everyone who can hold a gun.

And even if teachers were somehow immune to mental instability,

Children will always find a way to get to the gun kept in the cookie jar on the top shelf

Fire is not fought with fire

Guns are not fought with guns


When it is possible to purchase a gun whose only purpose is to rip through skin

When it is possible to purchase weapons that can take depression induced fantasies and bring them to life

Made his bullets tangible and death as real as the blood blending with tears on that stained the linoleum flooring 

17 people wouldn’t have died with a knife.

You can’t tell me that guns aren’t a part of the issue.


This is why we rise.

Rise from gunpowder and broken hearts.

Eras always end with a bang.

And revolution will rise from one.