Armed Teachers = Bad Idea

You better do your homework! (courtesy of Fox News)

After Adam Lanza murdered all those children and adults in Connecticut and then took his own life, people started to brainstorm ways in which we could make our schools safer. The usual ideas were bounced around: locking doors, bulletproof materials, armed guards, enhanced visitor screening, metal detectors and the like.

But some people had a different, more extreme idea: they thought we should arm our teachers. Even the National Rifle Association (NRA) seemed to support it.

Well, I’m here to tell you that teachers with guns are a bad idea. Consider the following story as just one example of why I believe this to be true.

Jacqueline Baffoni was an 8th grade teacher at the Collaborative Academy of Science, Technology and Language Arts in New York City. Students and parents knew her as someone who truly cared about her students and would do anything possible to help them. If they had a problem, Baffoni would take them to lunch to talk about it and come up with a solution. She even raised money online to help offset book costs for some of her less fortunate pupils. And given that Baffoni worked as a probationary teacher, she was no stranger to the challenges her students faced and did whatever she could to help them succeed.

In other words, she seemed like a model teacher. But all that changed late last year.

During one of her classes, several students became unruly and disrupted Baffoni’s lesson. Rather than kicking them out and sending them to the principal’s office for discipline, Baffoni instead fantasized out loud about how she “felt like stabbing some of these kids” and even told her class that she had a knife in her desk. This was true, even though she only used the knife to cut fruit from time to time.

“To hear something like that, it was kind of shocking,” eighth grader Samantha Vega said later. Classmate Lauren Reilly agreed that the incident made her “feel horrible.”

Jacqueline Baffoni prefers knives (courtesy of the New York Post)

The administration took immediate action and removed Baffoni from the school pending an investigation, which concluded last October. She of course resigned and moved out of town, but I suppose it’s possible that she’s teaching at some other school now.

Hell, if a teacher accused of sexually molesting students can find work in some other school system, then why not Baffoni?

Fortunately, this case ended well and any potential for violence was averted. But if a teacher that people know and trust can fantasize about killing her students, wouldn’t it stand to reason that other teachers might do the same? And given the laws of probability, it’s only a matter of time before one of them actually acts on this fantasy.

Now imagine that this unstable, pushed-to-the-edge teacher is armed with a handgun. Suddenly you have 10-20 students captive in a classroom like lambs to the slaughter. Who knows how many kids would die before school security could react?

Trained and armed guards in schools is one thing, but teachers packing heat is something else. I can tell you one thing for certain: I’m glad none of my teachers had guns when I was in school. If they did, then I probably wouldn’t be here today!

Posted on January 18, 2013, in Perspectives and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. Aww Geez Edith, here we go with the ban paring knives movement… 😉 If this teacher was as good as they say, then something caused her to snap, removing her from contact with the students definitely prudent. Did anyone offer her counseling? Are we really so disposable a society that we can afford to throw anyone away? The gap between desire and action is huge and is the point where people can be saved and returned to being a productive member. She spoke her desires not necessarily a bad thing in this case it definitely prevented a potentially disastrous and tragic event. She needs our pity and our help, not condemnation in reality she committed no crime. I read the article in the Huffington post. There were possibly some extenuating circumstances stressing an already stressed teacher caused by the school itself.
    Now that that’s said, I agree arming teachers with potentially lethal weapons is a bad idea. Security should be handled by those trained in security.

    • I hear you, Marty. And I taught for a number of years, so I know how frustrating it can be and how close to your limits these kids can push you. This poor woman likely meant no real harm, but you know how hypersensitive our society has become in recent years. And with schools under the microscope, her worst crime might simply be bad timing.

      Thanks as always for the kick-ass comments, my friend!

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