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A Kansas bill could make schools liable for shootings if they don't arm teachers

Posted at 4:08 PM, Mar 29, 2018

As the debate over arming teachers in schools reverberates across the country, Kansas is doubling down on the idea.

A new bill would not only authorize the arming of Kansas school staff, it would hold schools responsible if a shooting were to occur and the teachers and staff present were not allowed to be armed.

Here's the exact wording from House Bill 2789:

"In any action against a unified school district arising out of acts or omissions regarding the possession or use of firearms on the premises of such school district, there shall be a rebuttable presumption of negligence on the part of such school district when it is shown by evidence that such school district did not authorize any employee of such school district, other than school security officers, to carry concealed handguns..."

The House bill is causing some serious contention in the Kansas state capitol. During a House Insurance Committee hearing on Tuesday, Rep. Blake Carpenter, one of the bill's authors, quoted the movie "American Sniper" and said violence in school was a matter of "when" and not "if."

"It's not if our kids will be killed; it is when they will be killed and what we are doing to prevent it," he said, according to the Kansas City Star.

CNN has reached out to Carpenter for comment.

The bill has received significant pushback. A group of protesters was present at Tuesday's hearing, and Rep. Brett Parker, a Democratic opponent of the bill, shared a photo of stacks of papers he says are written testimonies against it.

Kansas teachers are technically already allowed by state law to carry guns on public school campuses as long as they have a permit and meet any school-specific requirements. But according to the Kansas City Star the 2013 legislation caused problems with insurance providers for some of the state's school districts, who refused to extend coverage because of the liability of armed staff.

As a result, some districts put their own policies in place, overriding the law and disallowing the concealed carry of weapons on school property.

The bill currently before the House committee also addresses this by forbidding insurance companies from refusing coverage just because a school district allows teachers and staff to be armed.

"No insurance company shall charge unfair discriminatory premiums, policy fees or rates for, or refuse to provide, any policy or contract of real or personal property insurance, liability insurance or policy containing liability coverage for any unified school district solely because such school district authorizes employees of such school district to carry concealed handguns on the premises of schools and attendance centers operated by such school district..." the bill states.