I recently ran across this article from the New York Times that brings to light a problem that some school districts are facing when trying to arm teachers and staff with concealed weapons. Liability and worker’s compensation insurance carriers are threatening to drastically increase their premiums or revoke their coverage altogether. According to the article, seven states enacted laws this year to allow teachers and staff in public schools to carry weapons on school grounds. The largest insurance carrier for school districts in Kansas recently notified its schools that those that elect to allow staff to carry weapons on campus would be denied coverage altogether. Similarly, most school districts in Oregon will have to pay an additional $2,500 annual premium for every staff member that carries a gun on school grounds. For larger school districts, this could easily increase their annual premiums by tens of thousands of dollars, which is easily enough to make school boards and administrators think twice about implementing such laws.
As I alluded to here, Arkansas is certainly not immune to the gun debate that has swept the nation since the Newtown, CT school shootings of last December. In this legislative session, the General Assembly proposed a bill that would have allowed school districts to contract with existing staff to carry a concealed weapon to school and provide additional security. This measure failed, and as for now, Arkansas schools aren’t allowed to arm teachers and staff. Institutions of higher education, however, are allowed to arm faculty and staff in Arkansas thanks to Act 226. Last I heard, all but a handful of though had exercised the option, as allowed in the law, to opt out and disallow guns on campus. I assume that higher ed institutions aren’t immune from the premium increases or coverage revocations that are taking place in other states, and if that’s the case, with budgets as tight as they are right now, I wouldn’t expect to see any public college or university implement the new law anytime soon. With tuition increases necessary to cover existing costs, and student loan rates drastically increasing, the last thing public institutions need right now is an increase in cost and potential liability due to a law that the institutions didn’t want or need in the first place. And so this once again begs the question that I asked here: Are these laws really necessary?