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Bob Skow (courtesy

“It’s one thing to have a trained peace officer with a gun in school; it’s a completely different situation when you have a custodian or a teacher with a gun. That changes the risk of insuring a school and magnifies it considerably.” Bob Skow, CEO of the Independent Insurance Agents of Iowa, quoted in Kansas law thrusts Iowa insurer into gun debate [via]

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  1. I have to admit, I never thought of it from the insurance standpoint. But I think the free market will fill the gap. Those who don’t want to permit guns on their property will do so, citing insurance as the reason. Those who care about freedom and safety will find new underwriters. As time goes on, those insurers who refused to write policies will figure out how to quantify and monetize the risk (which, God willing, will be low, because nothing bad happens), and the world will continue to revolve.

    • I submit that the risk of anything happening will be even lower when armed citizens are in schools.

      But why does everyone guess all the time? Armed citizens have been carrying in Utah schools since 2006 or so.

      • Why does this guy assume that having an armed presence, which will certainly be thoroughly vetted by the school administration, pose a greater underwriting risk?

        Knee jerk reaction I think,

  2. Mr. Skow’s statement overlooks the fact that you can train almost anyone to effectively, efficiently, and safely use a gun. What’s you next argument, Mr. Skow?

    • Regardless of actual training and prowress, LEO’s will always be considered better trained and qualified than private citizens by society.

    • Carrying a gun adds risk: accidental discharge, dropping the weapon, having someone grab the weapon, leaving the weapon lying around, etc. Training minimizes the risk – it does not eliminate it.

      Then, too, we’re talking insurance companies – always willing to raise rates at the drop of the hat. Some insurers with little experience in the area of folks packing heat won’t want to take the chance, others will raise rates dramatically (especially if there’s less competition). Once the underwriting risk can be established, the insurers will have a better idea of how to price their products.

      Plus, it goes both ways: what’s the risk of having someone shoot up the school, and then having the school sued because:

      (a) there were no armed teachers; or,

      (b) the armed teachers didn’t prevent it; or,

      (c) the armed teachers eventually stopped it, but not without loss?

      All in all, an insurer might want to bail out of the market for a while until the risks are better understood.

  3. Hey Bob, I have a question. FROM AN INSURANCE ACTUARIAL STANDPOINT (you remember those pesky things, ACTUAL facts) you know this how? You have ZERO facts on this, none because we have gun free zones in schools so teachers and custodians haven’t had guns in the past. There is NO statistical evidence on which to base your assertion.

    • True, there is no data for authorized school employees having ND’s in gun free school zones. However, there is plenty of statistical evidence for ND’s in general and the cost of liability associated with those ND’s. Mr. Skow has a valid point. Teachers with guns would change the risk of the school and most certainly magnify it considerably. Why? Because of the way society views guns. If society was normalized to guns and actually embraced personal responsibility, it would be a problem. However, most every jury would award the plaintiff up to millions of dollars if a school employee had an intentional or unintentional discharge and injured/killed someone. Even if no one was injured, they could still face liability for endangerment. It’s not fair, but it is reality and Mr. Skow is, unfortunately, correct.

      • Again, we do have actual data from states that do not criminalize concealed carry in schools, such as Utah and even California. Further, the rate of negligent discharges in general will not apply to the select population of school personnel. Why? Because the general population includes the few morons who have absolutely no training and fondle their guns all the time. A motivated population (school personnel who actually want to increase school safety), a minimal amount of training (four hours is plenty), and a policy to keep the handgun in the holster (which covers the trigger and guarantees there be NO negligent discharges) at all times will reduce the risk to zero.

  4. There is NO statistical evidence on which to base your assertion.

    Well, that right there usually translates in insurance-speak as “I’m not touching that one with a ten-foot pole.”

    Catch-22. They won’t insure it because they can’t price it, they can’t price it because people don’t do it. People don’t do it because they’re not allowed to, and they’re not allowed to because they won’t insure it.

    • I can’t recall where I saw this, but there are stats which show that armed citizens perform better in a live fire emergency than professional law enforcement. Most likely because it’s one person responsible for their behavior rather than several who expect the union will cover for them.

  5. Having a uniformed police officer in the school just makes him the first target. Having the same officer in the school year after year especially if the assailant was a student not a good idea either. Same goes for armed teachers. If no one knows who has the guns the better the odds. If it is about insurance, how much are your children or grandchildren worth to you?

  6. “It’s one thing to have a trained peace officer with a gun in school; it’s a completely different situation when you have a custodian or a teacher with a gun. That changes the risk of insuring a school and magnifies it considerably.” 
    No. I do not have time to look it up right now, but there is data that shows handgun permit holders get into LESS trouble than trained peace officers.

  7. Wouldn’t changing current law to allow conceal carry on school property by liscenced individuals solve the problem. Does a Walmart have to carry a special insurance in case of a shooting because of the fact that they allow conceal carry in their stores

    • The liability is associated with the representatives of the insured entity. Walmart probably doesn’t have to carry a special insurance above and beyond general liability to cover an incidence where a customer with a concealed carry permit has a ND in the Toy aisle and wounds someone. However, if a Walmart employee is carrying while at work and has a ND and injures someon, that presents a whole new ball game of liability concerns. The courts have upheld time and time again that employees of a company are representatives in fact. Therefore, the company can be held financially liable for the actions of its employees. Now, in this scenario, if the employee is specifically not authorized to carry a gun at work, the company would still be exposed to some liability, but to a much lesser extent. However, if the company granted its employees permission to carry while at work, either directly or by not explicitly prohibiting carry as a company policy, and a ND and injury occurs, they can, and most likely will, be held liable for a costly lawsuit. If Walmart specifically granted its employees permission to carry concealed while at work, they may not have a special insurance policy for it, but I can guarantee you that there overall liability insurance premiums would go up.

      The same concerns apply to a school district. It is one thing if law allows concealed carry and a parent has a ND on school grounds. However, it is an entirely different thing if the school permits school employees to carry. Those employees are acting on behalf of the school and if the school allows carry, you can bet your bottom dollar their premium will jump because a new risk is presented that previously did not exist, no matter how small. Risk valuation doesn’t rely on just the likelihood of an event occurring; the cost of the event also has to be taken into consideration, and the cost of a ND and injury/death on the part of a school employee would be in the millions of dollars. LEO/School Resource Officers are another thing. Liability for their actions is handled by another department and budget. Plus, whether fair or not, they are given the benefit of the doubt most of the time in our judicial system.

      • Even this argument is B.S. So, a business effectively eliminates its liability if it prohibits employees from having firearms? The key being a “safe” rule? Then a business can have an alternative “safe” rule that requires armed employees to keep their firearms in a properly fitting holster attached to their body at all times … and forbid employees from removing their handgun from their holster unless a violent criminal is attacking someone on the business property.

        Please note that a properly fitting holster covers the trigger and a negligent discharge is, for all intents and purposes, impossible if the handgun stays in the holster.

        If someone tries to argue, “But an employee could ignore the rule and fondle their handgun when there is no violent attack.” Yes, and an employee could ignore the rule that forbids all employees from having guns and come to work armed anyway.

        If you cannot trust an employee to keep a handgun in a properly fitting holster, you cannot trust an employee from bringing guns to work when they are completely banned. There is absolutely no difference in risk to a business or an insurance company whether the business bans guns or requires that armed employees keep their guns in properly fitting holsters attached to their bodies.

      • I don’t have any inside knowledge, but I’m willing to wager that Walmart is self-insured on general liability.

        • I do, and yes they are. And they settle nothing–all cases, no matter how big or small, no matter what the liability, go to trial as a matter of corporate policy. In fact, there was one case where it was rather heavily sanctioned because it appealed a $100 verdict.

          So Wal-Mart is not a good example. But Walgreen’s is; its corporate policy banning firearms is based on its fear of exposure to liability in the event of a shootout at a store, and it fires any employee who carries or, god forbid, actually shoots someone. Remember that pharmacist who shot a BG who, from the film, tried a couple of times (unsuccessfully) to shoot the pharmacist before the pharmacist pulled out his own weapon?

  8. Those that create gun-free zones have an obligation to provide for the security of those persons within that zone. If no security is provided for those within that zone then those that create that zone are liable for the consequences.

    • What are you talking about!? There is a sign saying you can’t bring one of those in here! Is that not enough protection!

      /Sarc off

    • Not. The only time the law imposes a security obligation (duty) on a business (or home) owner is when there is a documented risk of serious injury or death. The mere possibility that an assault will occur is not enough. And in most cases, that duty will be limited to providing adequate lighting in areas on or adjacent to the building; courts are loathe to impose a duty to burden owners with the expense of providing armed security (although bars where there is a history of fights/assaults will usually be required, in the exercise of reasonable care, to provide bouncers. But even then, bouncers impose liability exposures of their own, as a lot of the guys drawn to that type of work are body builders with a taste for steroids. You can bounce a drunk, but just not too hard.

  9. The same insurance companies that routinely pay millions to settle claims against these “highly trained” officers who let fly down crowded streets, fire at ladies delivering papers, arrest people for contempt of cop, kill kids while drag racing, and on and on and on.

    If they realy believed this theyd stop insuring cops.

    • Most cops are covered by self-insured government pools, not commercial insurers. State cops are insured by the state through your taxes.

  10. I hate to say it, but this guy is right. If A) an on-duty police officer negligently discharges a weapon and hurts someone, the school may not be liable; if B) a school employee does so, the school will definitely be liable.

    On top of that, in scenario A) you’ve got a deeper pocket defendant for the plaintiff to go after whereas in B) you would not.

    This could all change some day once armed teachers become commonplace. Typically in a negligence case, the plaintiff tries to illustrate all the commonplace and reasonable safety measures that the defendant could have emplaced but didn’t. Hopefully, arming a teacher will some day be on that list.

  11. armed citizens have better accuracy than cops and a lower rate of innocent bystanders shot. (i know cops are citizens to). this is because the citizen sees the whole incident going down, a cop gets called into the situation and has to quickly act while not knowing everything that is happening. off duty cops accuracy and rate of innocent bystanders shot is also better than that of in duty cops because they start in the scene.

  12. Yet we believe our teachers are disciplined and mature enough to be entrusted with our most precious asset, children. They are not mature enough or discipined enough to carry a form of safe personal protection.

    Is there insurance against stupidity or double standards yet?

    Maybe it’s time to sue for schools “not” having armed protection in every school. What is cheaper trained up teachers or paid armed security?

  13. Again, if you can’t trust Ms. Smith with a gun, I’m not sure how you trust her with your offspring.

  14. Seems to me to be only discussing one side of the coin. Sure if a janitor has a negligent discharge and someone gets hurt, the school should be held responsible. But on the other hand if a school provides no security and bans the parents and it’s own employees for carrying the means to provide for their own safety, then they should also be held responsible if someone gets hurt because of lack of security. The Newtown school district should be liable for $100 million + in damages.

    There are laws in a few states that apply this logic to private business, where if you post a “no guns” sign CCW carriers are banned from carrying there, but you become liable for their safety if you don’t provide sufficient security. That’s the way it should be everywhere, and the insurance industry would look at things very differently if it was.

      • “Must the employer/property owner do more than post signs prohibiting concealed weapons?

        Pragmatically, most employers/property owners are not going to set-up a secure checkpoint with metal detectors or body scanners. Because this scenario is likely cost prohibitive, what prevents someone who has a concealed weapon from entering the premises? The answer is: nothing.”

        Sounds like Wisconsin got it right. I don’t have an issue if a large employer with (armed) security disarms it’s workers, but you have to do more than just post a sign up. And gun owners should be allowed to store their weapons in their cars. The same goes for a business’s customers, if you’re going to disarm them you are at least morally obligated to provide protection, if not legally (in your state).

        In Iowa you can post all the signs you want and a CCW holder is legally free to ignore them. You could however be fired or refused service, but you don’t have to worry about being arrested unless you’re in a school, city park or federal building. CCW are even allowed in my courthouse. The local sheriff’s office is in the same building and when I went with my wife to put in her CCW permit application there happened to be a murder trial going on and there were 2 armed guards at the entrance where there usually is none. I had left my pistol in the truck, but I asked them about it and they told me as long as I had my CCW permit with me I’d be fine. But not in Polk County (Des Moines) so they told me to call ahead and make sure.

    • This. There is a difference between perceived risk and actual (actuarial) risk. One is based on feelings, the other on mathematics.

  15. Always look for the “swing around the thinking brain” and inject a mental image before one can engage thought.
    Always mention the menial janitor with his rag sticking out his back pocket like Guber & Gomer Pyle, pushing a cart with the brooms and mops protruding. This is the stupid plan they project to have this man to be the first line of defense for our children. They always have to throw in the janitor for the first impression instead of the smartly dressed college educated teachers and staff that are in place all over the school. Of course we don’t fall for these psycological tricks, do we?

    • Having retired from a public school system as a janitor I can only comment on my personal experience. A large number of janitors and support staff at public schools are veterans. Vets get preferences on these types of jobs. Some of these vets have been under fire. It was not uncommon to be a part of a crew with guys that had served in viet nam along with guys from Iraq and Astan.

      The teachers, not so much. A large number of teachers come straight out of college and into the class room. Teachers have shown great courage and willingness to sacrifice when their students are under threat. This speaks well of them.

      Both groups of workers, classified and certificated should have the option to train and carry to protect the kids.

  16. In a lot of jurisdictions, schools and school districts already have qualified (and sometimes absolute) immunity. Any enabling legislation that promotes carry by school personnel could also contain an immunity provision if one is needed.

    The plaintiffs’ personal injury crowd and the anti-tort reform bottom feeders won’t like it, but that’s just tough.

  17. Just having armed security guards or even teachers carrying guns might help, but it would also just make them the first target of a killer. All we’d do is put a target on their back that way! What we need is for there to be guns that potential killers don’t know are there, or don’t know who has them. That means we need to arm students – not necessarily all the students, but at least some of them. Ideally we would have students with firearms training carrying concealed weapons on their person during the school day as well as teachers or security guards, not necessarily all the time but on a randomly selected rotating basis.

    And, look, I don’t want to make this seem unreasonable or reckless. We would need to carefully select which students would take on a concealed protector role in the schools, selecting out the students most likely to be able to use their guns appropriately in a bad situation. We would need to train them carefully in how to safely and accurately operate a gun, and know that we had picked out the students most likely to confront an intruder instead of run away, and most willing to use deadly force if necessary. But if we really want safer schools, it’s worth putting in the additional effort screening possible candidates and arming them. We certainly have the ability to do just this sort of screening with the PPI test or whatever. It’s a simple written test, and it’s known to be pretty accurate too. I’d rather pay for that than hear about more innocent children killed when their deaths could have been prevented.

  18. If Sheriff Joe can deputize Steven Seagal to drive a tank into some guy’s living room, surely we could find a mechanism to deputize teachers, although thinking of certain teachers I had, I wouldn’t want them to have actual police powers. Having cops in schools has been a real problem all over the country. Merridian, MS is currently under a DOJ constent decree because of the number kids being sent to Juvie for very dubious reasons. Needless to say, these were not white, upper-middle class suburban kids. If cops aren’t “policing,” they’re just standing around getting bored, so suddenly typical teenage behavior (mouthing off, minor fisticuffs, etc.) become serious crimes. Ironically, the police presence is a lot lower in “safe” suburban schools, where mass shootings seem to happen.

    Far better to have armed teachers with the sole purpose of protecting students. That said, there’s still a lot that could go wrong – like if a frightened teacher shoots a violent, but unarmed student. There will have to be very strict rules of engagement and excellent self discipline on the part of the people carrying. For teachers who want access to a gun but don’t want one on their person all the time, biometric safes may be an option, but of course that creates the problem of response time. Still, it would take away the issue of a student grabbing a weapon. Realistically, it’s unlikely that any teacher can stand in front of a class everyday without students eventually noticing the concealed piece, unless only mouse guns are allowed, so every kid in the school is going to know who’s carrying. Opsec will be nonexistant if the shooter is a student.

  19. “That changes the risk of insuring a school and magnifies it considerably.” Mr. Scow needs to show the actuarial tables with the stats for that. Otherwise, he’s full of…. low-grade bovine-extract fertilizer base.

  20. Even if he’s right about the insurance, he’s still deciding that insurance rates are more important than saving innocent human life.

  21. What you guys don’t want to admit is this is one of the extremely rare times we have an objective opinion. The insurance company has no dog in this fight, to use one of Robert’s favorite expressions. Gun rights and gun control people have strong opinions, but it’s impossible to separate them from their individual biases.

    The insurance company experts assess risk, they do so objectively with no motive except to save the company money. And they agree with us about arming teachers and school employees. Suck it up, boys.

    • Then look at it from an insurance-monkey’s point of view….

      Who is more likely to end up deploying a firearm?
      A: Local Cop
      B: Average Citizen

      Way to lose your own argument


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