An insurance company currently providing coverage for the vast majority of Kansas school districts is refusing to renew coverage for schools permitting teachers and custodians to carry concealed firearms.
The EMC Insurance Cos., which presently insures 85 to 90 per cent of Kansas school districts, along with the smaller Continental Western Group, has found that a new state law allowing holders of concealed carry permits to bring concealed weapons into public buildings, conflicts with standing policy that only qualified personnel be armed on school premises.
“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 speaking to the Des Moines Register.
“Our guidelines have not recently changed,” he adds.
The state’s new gun law took effect on July 1, and is similar to another law in the state of Utah. Such regulations have been touted by firearms groups including the National Rifle Association in response to mass shooting events, such as 2012’s massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary in Connecticut.
Though Connecticut’s legislature moved to enact stricter gun ownership laws in the wake of that tragedy, other states around the country have followed a different route, with at least 30 states evaluating proposed laws allowing teachers and school staff to carry firearms on the campuses of primary and secondary schools.
Since Sandy Hook the states of South Dakota, Alabama, Arizona and Kansas have all since enacted laws allowing staff to carry guns on school premises, while Texas, which already allowed staff to carry firearms with prior school approval, passed additional laws creating a “school marshal” program. Similar bills have failed in other states.
While some states have ratified new gun carry provisions in schools requiring only a concealed-firearm permit, others, such as South Dakota, require law enforcement-approved training.
Still, the response by Kansas insurers to the change in the law could well be a harbinger of things to come elsewhere in the country.
Bob Skow, chief executive officer of the Independent Insurance Agents of Iowa, tells the Des Moines Register that he’s not surprised by the insurers’ decisions.
“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,” he adds.
Only days following the Sandy Hook school shooting, NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre suggested that schools around the US should have armed security personnel, as well as arming school staff.
“Will you at least admit it’s possible that 26 innocent lives might have been spared?” LaPierre asked during a press appearance.
“The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun,” he added.
According to The New York Times, school district administrators in the state of Oregon are reeling after the state School Boards Association, which manages liability coverage for the majority of school districts, enacted an additional premium totaling $2,500 for each faculty member with a firearm on campus.
“Pretty much every last bit of our money is budgeted,” Jackson County official Scott Whitman told the Times. “To me, that could be quite an impediment to putting this forward.” Oregon’s Jackson County currently has a committee evaluating whether to allow school staff members to carry firearms by next year.
Kansas state senator Forrest Knox, the chief advocate of the state’s new gun law, remains convinced that having more guns in schools and public buildings can prevent injuries and deaths.
“I’m not an insurance expert, but it’s hard for me to believe that if schools and other public buildings allow law-abiding citizens to carry that that increases risk — it’s news to me,” Knox tells the Register.
“Law enforcement responds better (to school shootings now), but it still takes a few minutes, and a lot of damage can be done in a few minutes,” he adds.
According to David Shriver, director of the Kansas school board association’s insurance program, as of Saturday no school district had yet opted to allow holders of concealed carry permits on school grounds with a firearm.