After the elementary school shooting in Newtown, CT last winter, public opinion on guns went in two diametrically opposed directions. There are people like me who wanted to see more stringent gun safety rules in effect to reduce the number of guns accessible to potential murderers. Then there are people who believe the answer to gun violence is to shoot back. The two ideologies will probably never see eye to eye and each will keep pushing for their agenda. My side is winning in states like my home of Maryland, where gun safety legislation includes school safety measures like more cameras and shatterproff glass. But in states like Kansas, they’ve passed laws to make is legal for school staff to come to work armed.
Unfortunately, the insurance companies that cover schools in Kansas think that’s a too big a liability risk and they won’t renew policies according to USA Today:
The EMC Insurance Cos. insures 85 percent to 90 percent of all Kansas school districts and has refused to renew coverage for schools that permit teachers and custodians to carry concealed firearms on their campuses under the new law, which took effect July 1. It’s not a political decision, but a financial one based on the riskier climate it estimates would be created, the insurer said.
“We’ve been writing school business for almost 40 years, and one of the underwriting guidelines we follow for schools is that any on-site armed security should be provided by uniformed, qualified law enforcement officers,” said Mick Lovell, EMC’s vice president for business development. “Our guidelines have not recently changed.”
Apparently, actuarial tables only support guns in schools if the person holding the gun is a trained law-enforcement professional, not a well-meaning faculty or staff member. There’s too much potential for injury with guns in schools and insurance companies don’t know how to measure that risk:
Bob Skow, chief executive officer of the Independent Insurance Agents of Iowa, said he’s not surprised by the companies’ decisions. Insurance is all about risk and about pricing the cost of coverage in a way that correctly reflects it. That’s one of the reasons many schools have gotten rid of their trampolines, he said.
“It’s one thing to have a trained peace officer with a gun in school; it’s a completely different situation when you have a custodian or a teacher with a gun,” Skow said. “That changes the risk of insuring a school and magnifies it considerably.”
As someone who would rather bring suit against a school district for tuition to a gun-free private school than allow them to attend a facility crawling with armed staff, I think this is an entirely reasonable response to the idea of guns in the school. Firearms are dangerous. The potential for tragic accidents is high and insurers are risk averse. If they think the risk is this high, well, maybe it’s time to rethink the idea that more guns solve problems.
Photo credit: photo stock
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