It’s not surprising that the company that insures most school districts in Kansas has announced that it would not insure districts that allow employees to carry weapons on school property.
The reason is simple. The insurer, EMC Insurance Companies, doesn’t want to be liable for big payouts involving shootings, accidental or intentional, in schools. In other words, schools that are safe enough now will become too risky to insure.
The Manhattan-Ogden School District isn’t directly affected by EMC’s decision. USD 383 is insured by Cincinnati Insurance Co. through Charlson & Wilson, and has been told that the insurer has not yet decided whether to change its policy to reflect the new law.
At present, only law enforcement officers, usually SROs — school resource officers — can carry firearms in schools.
Schools, which have been the site of horrible gun violence in recent years, have been a particular focal point of the gun debate since last December. That’s when a mentally ill man entered Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., and opened fire with an automatic weapon, killing 20 students and six faculty and staff members.
The Kansas Legislature, among others, expanded the places where citizens with concealed carry permits could carry weapons. A new Kansas law to take effect July 1 will give local school boards the authority to designate employees — provided they have concealed carry permits — who can carry guns on school property.
The issue hasn’t surfaced on the Manhattan Board of Education’s agenda, but when it does, we urge the board to continue its longstanding “no weapons” policy. That’s not just because the Kansas Association of School Boards has advised local boards to maintain the status quo. Rather, it’s because despite the confidence of those who are convinced guns in school will make students safer — certainly from mass shootings — our sense is that it will create risks.
We recognize that schools could operate safely indefinitely if teachers and other school personnel who are permitted to carry concealed weapons do so.
But we don’t subscribe to the argument that more firearms — even in the hands of law-abiding citizens — make us safer. We also don’t assume that a teacher with a concealed carry permit will prevent a horror on the scale of Sandy Hook; nor should we expect him or her to. On the contrary, the more guns that are allowed in schools, the more likely someone innocent will get hurt.