Teachers invent device to protect students from shooters

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sleeveMUSCATINE, Iowa — It’s the last thing a teacher wants to have to think about: what to do in case a shooter is in the building.

Mass shootings in the past year like Sandy Hook, and the one at an Oregon high school on Tuesday, have led a few Iowa middle school teachers to take action, and invent a device that will protect their classrooms.

“The Sleeve” is a 12-gauge carbon steel case that fits around the door’s closer arm, securing the door from the inside. The Sleeve can withstand more than 550 foot-pounds of force, making it nearly impossible to open from the outside.

Teacher Daniel Nitzel got the idea from the school’s active shooter training.

“We were instructed to tie a belt or a cord around the closer arm. It seemed like a logical way to secure a door without having to go into the hallway, [but] it took us a long time to get a cord, stand on a chair, and tie a knot, which could potentially be the most important tie of your life.” said Nitzel.

“I can tell you in our training, all five rooms that the teachers were trained in; the doors were breached, the cords were ripped, and the officer who was portraying the active shooter came in and killed all of us,” Nitzel said.

That’s when Nitzel and his colleagues formed the company, Fighting Chance Solutions, and began designing blueprints for The Sleeve. He said it’s been ten months in the making, but they finally have it ready and waiting for patent.

“We look at it as a cheap insurance policy. If you have someone out in the hallway, and you have an active situation, a dangerous situation unfolding and [don’t] want to go out into the hallway and lock your door, we want to provide you with a way to close that door,” said Nitzel.

The Sleeve is lightweight and compact, so it can be quickly applied and removed from the door’s opening mechanism in case of an emergency. It also allows the teachers to keep the door closed without having to enter the hallway to lock it from the outside, keeping them safe from harm.

“I think it’s a great product. It’s going to buy kids and teachers time for shootings,” said Muscatine Police Chief Brett Talkington. “These shooters [are] going to be pulling on the door. If they can’t get in, they’re going to move on.”

The Sleeve still awaits patent, but a local community college is fitting buildings across campus with the device.

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  • JBenson

    If you are going to allow teachers to lock themselves into the classrooms, then why don't you just use the right kind of keyed lock???? I understand why the locks are they way they are, but this device will defeat that purpose. Just get new door handles with keyed entry on both sides.

  • Ted

    The fact we are having this conversation means we have a ‘do nothing’ congress, “For years now.” They do nothing but get all the news, gosh americans are stupid to put up with this…..

    • Jphil

      and what can they do? It's a public issue not a federal issue. The issue's with the people who justify this shit and point at the government to blame them because they're too insecure to strive in their own lifes to improve.

  • donteverhitkids

    What's truly sad here is that we have to have these in our schools,
    I don't want to send my children to school and have to worry if there will be a shooting I mean what the hell have we become? Why are people doing this?!
    The only thing that may scare me about that device is what happens if the shooter starts on the inside of the room and locks it themselves than for sure he will shoot and have time to reload….It's crazy to have to go to such extremities to feel safe.

  • Matt

    This is simply someone trying to capitalize off school shootings with a gimmick. A $20.00 sliding deadbolt gate lock from Home Depot is more secure, cheaper, shorter people won't have to stand on a chair to lock the door. Most school room doors have windows. Locking a sliding deadbolt can be done from the side and the person won't have to stand in front of the window with a shooter in the hallway.

    • dave

      I think its to keep kids from locking the door from the inside. That would be a problem for most schools now wouldnt it. Like if a group of kids wanted to keep teacher outside in the hallway. Cant have a sliding bolt at kid level to lock the door from the inside.

  • dave

    so what happens if a teacher goes nuts and locks the door from the inside to do whatever to the pupils. How does a police officer breach the door to get in? This is a slippery slope indeed.

  • Nancy

    As a substitute teacher I worry about lock downs and having a secure place for me and my students. A simple idea is to keep the classroom door locked but place a magnet in the frame to keep the door from latching, simple to pull out the magnet when needed.

    • Janet York Marquez

      I thought of never teaching again in a classroom after the Sandy Hook elementary school incident (substitute teaching for 30 years). I have anxiety and pray.

    • Bob M

      That's in place in two of the schools that I teach in. However, a bunch disappeared and the staff that unlock in the morning have stopped relocking and placing the magnet strip.

  • jeff

    Why not train teachers in fire arm training? What is the difference between a police officer using a weapon and a trained individual who is proficient in handling a fire arm? Is it the uniform? The road to hell is paved with good intentions.

    • ShootingsRavoidable

      What has to happen for that to work is more money for schools to hire qualified teachers in both teaching and mentally able to handle fire arms (as I'm sure you know schools are wildly underfunded). Then heaven forbid a teacher snaps, and they take out a whole classroom full of kids, what then? A different teacher takers down that teacher, and so on until everyone is shot? The answer isn't more guns, although I'm sure you'll argue it is.

    • Chris

      The difference is that when I decided to become a teacher, it was because I wanted to educate children, not pack heat. I am NOT one of those people that will scream about how guns should be banned and that they are the root of all evil, but that doesn't mean I would EVER want a gun ANYWHERE in my immediate vicinity! I wouldn't touch a gun with a ten foot pole, so does that mean I shouldn't be a teacher?

      • Chuck

        I respect your stance on carrying a firearm, there are many teachers out there who would be willing to carry. It happens time and time again , When these psycho idiots are met with any resistance they usually kill themselves or surrender immediately. Even if half the teachers and admin in the schools carried, our children would stand a better chance.

      • Bob M

        As Chuck points out, we don't have to arm everyone. just knowing that there "might" be an armed teacher in the next room will slow these people down. We have created zones where we know that no law abiding person will be carrying.

  • Natalia

    I think this is a good short term solution but we definitely need to work on the long term safety for the kids. Obviously if the shooter wants to get in they’ll find a way, the shooter in SH broke through the window, crazy they still need to wait that long for a patent to produce it though!

  • 3%er

    Arm the teachers, have a few armed officers at the school. The Oregon school wasn’t a mass shooting. Mental kids off there drugs is what it is. This a a cover up for potus effn up the hostage swap.


    • fmy06

      I have asked my students if they would feel safer if I had a weapon. Not one of them said yes. What do you expect armed teachers to do? Ask the intruder to wait a minute while we get our weapon out of the locked and secure place because for obvious reasons, a weapon can not be worn or left out where students could come in contact with it. What a stupid suggestion.

  • elementary teacher

    I am a teacher. We are required to keep our doors locked at all times. They lock with our classroom key from the outside and from the inside. In a lockdown situation, we are not to open our doors for any reason whatsoever. We are instructed that an emergency responder will release us from our room. An emergency responder would not be able to get in with the sleeve, leaving the teacher to make the call as to whether or not the person on the other side of the door is truly safe. It is sad that someone had to invent this product in the first place, but also sad that districts are not providing a safe way to lock doors from the inside with a key. It breaks my heart every time we do a drill.

  • Kimberly Fullerton

    It will never pass the Fire Marshall, to many dangers!!
    A bully could easily grab a kid lock the door & slide it over.
    Better yet it could be a door that was not reinforced for a door closer and it may send the closer flying and injuring someone.
    Or if there is a fire and a kid gets scared and goes in a room and slides on it trapping him inside.
    This thing will never work.
    It may save many lives in a shooting incident but it could potentially be fatal to victims all year long.
    They need classroom locks not a sleeve.
    Just saying. 😉

  • Clenna

    At our school, the doors are locked all the time. So we have a magnetic strip that we keep on the frame. We can slide it over the lock and the door will stay unlocked. We slide it off the lock part and door will stay in lock mode. Takes less than a second.

  • Donna Bunetto

    This is great but 1 of 2 things should be added. 1st a cable attached so it cannot be removed from the classroom or a sensor like you see on clothing in a store that sets an alarm off if it is removed from the room.

  • sam bloodworth

    Great idea, This reminds me of the Lightning Rod invented by Benjamin Franklin, he didn't patent it so it would be more widely available and benefit the general population.

  • Michele

    I teach and it is policy to have the classroom door locked at all times during instruction. Maybe they should start with a locked door and then add the sleeve??!!

  • Janet York Marquez

    it's a great preventional tool. Yes, schools should key in locks both inside and outside the door lock to prevent intruders. Additional inventions should be utilized. Some Senior Citizens have a bar blocking their front doors from access.

  • Chris

    Better yet, why not install a lock that can be locked from the inside? At my school, I have to step out into the hallway and lock the door with my key.

  • Nancy Alexander

    They need to take this to shark tank. I feel they’ll support this idea. As for teachers w/guns what happens when a kid gets the teacher’s gun? How much would this device cost? I’m sure people would support their child’s class having it

  • Lana

    Lauren since when do criminals obey laws period? Why would they obey any sort of gun law? All stricter gun control does is hurt the law abiding citizens.

  • Jo A

    Why not just have an electronic locking system where all doors are locked while class is in session as routine . They could also have a easily reached panic button that can be tripped from a couple of areas in each room . Trying to use a key or put that sleeve on the door arm might be harder than you think when you hear gunshots it might take too much time of fumbling with it.

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