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Monday, March 26, 2018

How The NRA Is Making Armed Teachers A Reality In Kansas

By Spocko

In my piece Let's Stop The Armed Teachers Plans In Florida And Other States, I mentioned how in Kansas in 2013, the sole insurance provider for public schools, EMC, said it would not insure any school that armed teachers.

Other insurance carriers may have come forward at the time to provide insurance for these armed teachers, but their rates would have been higher, because of the greater liability risks.  The combination of no insurance, or very expensive insurance, stopped armed teachers from being placed in public schools back in 2013.

NRA's Institute for Legislative Action saw this insurance roadblock and developed a plan. Someone suggested to lawmakers in Kansas that they insert an amendment in a bill that says "Insurance companies can't refuse to provide a policy to a school district with armed teachers."

Next, they added a passage that says the insurance company cannot charge unfair discriminatory premiums, policy fees or rates. This is an attempt force the insurance carriers to eat the cost of the higher premiums necessary to cover the additional risk of gun accidents.

The NRA's strength isn't just money, it's also their legislative strategy and politically active base.  I only found out about this hearing on Friday.  I would love to get all the new activists in Kansas to call members on the committee to say, "We don't want armed Teachers. Period."   HB2789
"Creating the Kansas staff as first emergency responders (SAFER) act."
Rep. Jene Vickrey (R) Dist 6
  NRA Rating A
785 296-7748, jene.vickrey@house.ks.gov

Vice Chair Rep. Willie Dove (R) Dist. 38.NRA Rating A
 785 296-7677 willie.dove@house.ks.gov

Ranking Minority Member Rep. Cindy Neighbor (D) Dist 18 785 296-7690. Cindy.Neighbor@house.ks.gov NRA Rating F

I  hope that the insurance industry lobbyists have been calling the members on this committee prior to this hearing. They know what the general public doesn't, the massive costs associated with negligent discharge of firearms. The media calls them gun accidents, but it is negligence that is the deciding factor when it comes to liability.

There is a lot of negligence. According to the National Center for Injury Protection and Control, each year more than 70,000 people are treated in hospital emergency rooms for non-fatal gunshot injuries.

The Center for Disease Control says gun accidents cause more than 15 percent of the injuries and deaths from gunshot wounds.

Why Aren't Gun Owners Required to be Financially Responsible?

Here's a relevant story about negligence around guns involving the Rep. Willie Dove, He is vice chair of the Insurance Committee deciding on arming teachers tomorrow in Kansas.

Kansas Rep. Dove leaves loaded handgun in committee meeting room

On January 26, 2017 Rep. Willie Dove (R) Bonner Springs stormed out
of an House Education Committee Hearing, leaving his handgun behind.
Chris Neal/The Capital Journal
In this case no one was injured, but let's say a legislator dropped his gun and it discharged. (This happens, in New Hampshire in 2017 a state legislator’s loaded gun fell from her waistband to the floor in a committee hearing with children present.  In 2013 an aide to Missouri’s House speaker left a loaded handgun in a Capital bathroom in Jefferson City, Mo.The aide resigned.)

Or let's say a child got that handgun, fired it and hit someone. It would be just one of the 70,000 gun injuries last year.

But we are talking about insurance here so some questions:

  • Did Dove have insurance to cover this incident?  If so, how big was the policy? 
    What did it cover, what was exempt? The insurance committee knows all about exemptions, they know that when a third party accidently fires the policy owners' gun. most homeowners' policies will not cover those costs.

There is no law requiring Dove to have a gun liability insurance, but he is in the insurance world so he might have some coverage, but would it be enough?  Was he covered by the state? How big is that policy? Who pays the premiums for armed legislators? The taxpayers.  How much per armed representative?

How much training did Dove have? Where there any consequences for his negligence in maintaining control of his handgun?  If teachers don't have enough training and made a mistake with a weapon, who pays?

If a teacher, who is part of this SAFER program, makes a mistake with a weapon while at school the school district will be financially responsible for the consequences. 
Are the school districts prepared for this? What do their risk managers say?
Are the risk managers for the cities and school districts demanding to know the real costs of this program? 
BTW, in Tennessee the legislators tried to shift the financial responsibility to the "volunteer" armed teachers,  suggesting they get their own insurance, but did not offer to pay for it. The lawmakers then voted immunity from liability to the state university system. This is a law that hasn't been challenged in court, yet. 
Much of the discussion on arming teachers focuses on an active shooter scenario. What this premise  fails to consider is this program would create thousands of people who are now handling firearms. For 100's of thousands of days and hours there is NEVER an active shooter.  Yet during this time there are thousands of people who are now handling firearms.  People who train people with guns know that humans make mistakes.

How Much Did the Gun Accident in YOUR School District Cost?

I wanted to give people a specific example of medical costs in gun wounds, but HIPAA rules won't allow me to get details.  so I've taken the average costs for the first 48 hours after a shooting from an emergency department study from  Johns HopkinsYou can find gun accidents in your school district, city or state here.  

Here's an example from Florida:

"During the investigation we found that an uncle that was visiting had accidentally, while clearing his weapon, the weapon had went off and it struck the little girl," said Captain Virgil Watson, Jackson Co. Sheriff's Office.

Officials said the girl was life flighted to a Panama City hospital but later transported to the Pensacola area for pediatric attention. The child was struck by the bullet in the lower part of her body.

Officials have not released any names at this time because they are still investigating, but seem to think that no criminal activity took place.  
Cost calculations: In Walton County, Florida the base rate at lift off is $11,902.82, with a surcharge of $118.98 per mile.

$ 18,447     Transportation Life Flight: Marianna to Panama City 55 miles
$ 95,887     Treating wound: emergency room costs only with overnight stay
$179,565    Discharged to another medical facility and incurred costs  (Pensacola transport 91 miles)

$293,898   NOT including additional surgeries, hospital stays and rehabilitation

The average cost for this kind of injury to a child needing multiple surgeries is about 1.5 million dollars 

 By state statute schools must have liability insurance or they can't open.  Insurance costs are part of the school budget, if premiums go up, schools need to either change the scope of coverage, or change what is covered.

 The school districts that want this program either need to get more money from the city and state to pay for the premiums, or make cuts in other places. 

 The NRA has been very clever in how they have approached getting armed teachers in the classrooms. They have created a demand for a program that is ineffective. They have convinced lawmakers to take  resources from other areas to pay for this non-solution. They have introduced a new danger and liability into the school environment.  This will. generate the NRA revenue from gun sales and training courses.  Yet the gun manufacturers haven't paid the price for any of this.

The legislators in office now need to see that the rules are changing.  A pro-gun vote is not a safe vote. A legislator cannot expect the people to pay for a bogus solution to the gun violence problem.

If I was in the insurance industry, (or the air transportation industry like Delta) and I saw politicians hurting my businesses in order to suck up to the gun lobby, I would stop funding those people.