In the weeks and months after the mass shooting at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newton, Connecticut last year, communities across the nation were once again faced with questions of how to ensure their children’s safety in the wake of such horrific violence.
Outrage inevitably focused on gun control. A few states discussed new measures, and fewer moved forward. Congress even got around to discussing it…but not passing any legislation.
Of course, the NRA knew the solution to the problem of school shootings: more guns.
They came up with a proposal that included arming school personnel – including teachers – in order to stop raving lunatics with automatic weapons. In their mind, gun free school zones were the problem that needed to be solved.
Unlike gun control measures, several states were more than happy to explore the NRA’s suggestion, even working with the organization to create legislation. In all, more than thirty states enacted legislation which allowed school personnel to carry guns.
School districts are given the option to do so or not. Many that are considering adopting the laws are running into roadblocks, though – from insurance companies.
Kansas was one of the states that felt it was a good idea to allow teachers to carry concealed weapons into classrooms. However, the largest insurer of school districts in the state, EMC Insurance Company – which covers 85-90 percent of the districts – refuses to renew coverage for any district that adopts the policy. Two other insurers have also refused coverage.
The insurers note that it’s not a political move. They believe there’s an inherent risk when non-security personnel carry firearms around children.
Because what could go wrong?
Tennessee is also a state that is weighing costs associated with having school personnel packing heat. Thus far only one district is even considering it, but the state’s main insurer still hasn’t made a decision on whether to insure.
An insurer’s job is to measure risk and put a monetary value on that risk. In some cases, they feel the risk is worth it, if a district is willing to pay.
Texas has had laws that allow personnel to carry firearms in schools since 2007 and have been able to keep their districts insured. Of course, Texas also limits the amount insurers have to pay out in claims, the result of often touted (and misrepresented) tort reform. There’s nothing like taking a risk when there is none.
Indiana also had a law on the books that allowed staff to have firearms. A new law that went into affect this month designates Indiana schools gun free zones, making it a felony for anyone to carry a firearm on school grounds. The law exempts authorized people designated as security personnel.
This means that if a school designates the seventh grade history teacher as authorized security personnel, he can be armed.
As Bloomfield’s school superintendent Dan Sichting said in a recent school board meeting, “I’m not sure it’s a good idea for this board to appoint a staff member to carry weapons.”
Fellow school board member, and local insurance agency owner John Mensch also pointed out the risks – including higher insurance premiums. In addition, there are costs associated with training staff for the gun permits, not to mention how to respond in situations in which they would need to use their guns.
Like the training actual security personnel undertake.
In the end, few districts are adopting the policy. Those that have are largely located in rural areas where response time could be lengthy. Still, even if the districts want to arm their teachers, most of them don’t want to bring a gun to school if permitted.
Could it be they have enough on their plate with things like actual teaching?