Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Idea to arm teachers hits a bump: insurance premiums

In the ongoing debate over school violence, the notion of arming teachers has been more popular than gun-control proposals in rural and conservative areas. But some insurance companies think armed teachers not only won't stop mass shootings, but will cause more accidents, and they're charging accordingly higher rates. Others are refusing to cover schools with armed teachers at all. That's why almost no teachers carry guns in the classroom in Kansas, even though they are legally allowed to do so, Todd Frankel reports for The Washington Post.

At least 10 states have laws allowing instructors to carry firearms, and 17 more have considered similar bills since the Parkland, Fla., shooting. Some of those bills failed once legislators found out how much it would cost to insure schools.

"The reaction of insurance companies is notable because they are supposed to evaluate dangers through the dry eye of actuarial science, largely avoiding the heated emotions of the nation’s gun debate, in which one side condemns guns and the other side claims, as Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick (R) did last week, that the best way to stop a bad person with a gun is a good person with a gun," Frankel reports.

Insurers have reason to worry about increased costs: the 2017 Las Vegas shooting in which 58 concert-goers were killed could cost insurance companies more than $1 billion, according to the International Risk Management Institute. And the 2007 Virginia Tech shooting, with 32 dead and 17 injured, cost insurers at least $50 million for security upgrades and lawsuit settlement costs, said Paul Marshall of McGowan Program Administrators, Frankel reports.

It's not just active shooters the insurers fear. "Reports of teachers caught bringing guns to school reinforce insurers’ concerns," Frankel reports. "In 2014, a sixth-grade teacher in Utah mistakenly shot a school toilet. No one was injured. Utah allows people with concealed-weapons permits to carry handguns on campus." Adding trained police or resource officers is more popular with insurers.

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