Across the country, school districts are quietly arming teachers for the next shooting – Good or Bad?

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Across the country, school districts are quietly arming teachers for the next shooting – Good or Bad?


A little while back I came across an interesting article out of The Washington Post that digs into the idea of teachers carrying firearms into school with them. It is obvious, and I think we all would agree, teachers have had, and will continue to have, one of the hardest jobs. The hours are long, the parents can be overbearing or completely non-existent, the pay is low, and the rewards are often intangible. The article goes on to say “In addition to designing and executing lesson plans, grading homework and coordinating extracurricular activities, teachers are expected to be surrogate parents, offering children personal comfort and protection over the course of a long school day.” Now add on top of all that the realization that teachers must contend with the increasing threat of school shootings.

It’s widely known that gun violence in the U.S. has been decreasing since the 1990s, but the potential for mass public shootings is on the rise (you’ve probably seen our Active Shooter email graph outlining this threat) leaving our schools as vulnerable targets. One of the deadliest in history claimed 28 lives, including 20 children, after Adam Lanza opened fire at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, in 2012.

Last October, a gunman fatally shot nine people at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon.

These incidents, and every school shooting in between, have sent mourning parents and distraught education officials on a search for effective preventative measures. I want to focus on “effective preventative measures” going forward because one of the options being introduced is teachers carrying guns.
The Kingsburg Joint Union High School District in Kingsburg, California, is the latest district to pass such a measure. At a school board meeting on Monday, the Fresno Bee reported, members unanimously approved a policy that allows district employees to carry a concealed firearm within school bounds.
The employees will be selected by the superintendent and will have to complete a training and evaluation process. The new policy was made effective immediately.
While proposals to arm teachers have been familiar refrains in Texas and Indiana, the passing of such a mandate on the West Coast signals that the strategy is being considered elsewhere in the country. In fact, the Folsom Cordova Unified School District covering the cities of Folsom, Rancho Cordova and Mather, California, has allowed employees to bring guns to school since 2010, but only revealed the policy to parents last month.
“Our narrow practice of allowing select, law-abiding employees to securely store and access a firearm in the event of an emergency is a legal and appropriate safety measure given the unfortunate reality of violence in our society today,” Superintendent Deborah Bettencourt said in a letter to parents, according to the Los Angeles Times.

The Folsom Cordova policy is more rigid than the newly-adopted one in Kingsburg, as the latter allows teachers to carry guns in a holster as opposed to simply storing them in vaults.
Like the Folsom Cordova policy, however, Kingsburg’s emphasis is on giving teachers the resources to protect their students — and possibly prevent a Sandy Hook-scale tragedy.
Reactions to Monday’s vote have been mixed, with some parents expressing concern about how the presence of guns will change an otherwise relaxed school environment where there are no surrounding fences or police officers.
Mary Lou Swenning, whose grandchildren attend schools in the district, told the Fresno Bee that she was worried about the burden guns could place on teachers. She called the policy akin to measures out of the “Wild West.”
“Now we’re going to add something else for teachers to think about?” Swenning asked. “Shooting people, really? That’s a difficult thing for a police officer to do who’s been trained to do this, and you have a split second to decide if you should kill this person or not. I wouldn’t want that responsibility, and I wouldn’t want it for our teachers.”
Whether parents want it or not, similar policies have already been adopted in Oklahoma, Ohio, Utah and other states. Many school districts cite the shooting at Sandy Hook as the kind of event that they hope armed teachers could prevent.

Kasey Hansen, a special needs teacher in Salt Lake County, Utah, told NBC News in 2014 that she carried her pink handgun “Lucy” every day.
“I never really thought about it before Sandy Hook,” Hansen said. “I think every teacher should carry. We are the first line of defense. Someone is going to call the cops and they are going to be informed, but how long is it going to take for them to get to the school?”
Whether you agree with it or not, teachers carrying firearms is an option that some counties are using, however, it could easily open the door to some major lawsuits down the road if it doesn’t work out perfectly.

The second option is an Active Shooter insurance policy – the intention of which is to provide your clients with a product that provides unique, primary coverage for an active shooter event and a pro-active product that provides leading risk management services and a partner to help an education provider through such a terrible event. Please note that the intention of the risk management provision is to provide a complementary review of how the respective education provider is currently handling this exposure, it is neither a critique nor a criticism but simply a separate independent review in order to provide some suggestions and betterment of their current protocols. Minimizing the exposure is the objective of our event responder team.

Although an armed teacher may be a viable option, it only works if a situation has already presented itself – we want to keep the situation from even starting.

If you would like more information on our Active Shooter Program, please contact one of the PGU underwriters:

Ned Daly 804.272.8060
Grey Lester 804.272.5964
Dana Fawver 804.272.7405
Will Shumadine 804.272.9210