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An Iowa Teacher’s Invention Could Save Your Child’s Life


Muscatine, Iowa (WQAD) — 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 Muscatine 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. WQAD-TV reports that The Sleeve can withstand more than 550 foot-pounds of pressure, making it nearly impossible to open from the outside.

Daniel Nitzel, a teacher at West Middle School in Muscatine, 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 them can’t get in, they’re going to move on.”

The Sleeve still awaits patent, but Muscatine Community College is fitting all their classrooms in their library and Larson Hall buildings with the device.

By CAROLINE REINWALD

32 comments

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  • Thehammer

    Bill, that was my first thought. A heavy slide lock will do the same thing. Shoot off a deadbolt? Deadbolts are inside a door and jamb. The slide lock would be inside the classroom, unseen by a shooter who’s not going to waste time shooting open locked doors unless he’s after a specific target.

  • Dan Kowalski

    I think arming teachers and giving them proper weapons safety and training would be money better spent. Would a gunman go into a school knowing that the adults are armed in there? I think they would move on to an easier target.

    • ryry

      That’s like fighting fire with fire. And would most likely result in more deaths. For one, there would be a shoot out with the gunman and the teacher, with children in the classroom. If the teacher gets shot, the gunman has an extra gun, and ammo. Stray bullets hitting students, and killing more people. Or a student could steal the gun, or take the teacher hostage for the gun. Or kill the teacher for the key to get the gun key. Or go room to room and take all the guns. But even if they were armed with guns, they would have to run, get the gun and by that time they would be shot. And students would eventually figure out where they are hidden.

  • Connecticut Mom

    My daughter is 2 years away from going to school if by then the school doesn’t have these I will be purchasing it as a gift to each teacher until the district gets does

  • Trudy

    Well what it seems that noone has mentioned is the fact of our great nation prolonging the safety of our children for another 3-6 months due to the all important paperwork of a patent! Please, this regardless of it may or may not work is better than doing nothing, and to have to wait on paperwork when it could be saving thousands of children…..Please! Only in America!

    • ALECHEMIST

      Please know what you’re talking about with respect to patents before getting indignant. A patent stops someone other than the inventor from stealing the idea and selling these sleeves. Nothing in the patent process means that the original inventor can’t create and sell the product tomorrow. And patents take 2-3 years to issue not 3-6 months. Remember that patent law is in ARTICLE 1 of the Constitution so the Founding Fathers thought it was pretty important.

  • Jessica

    That’s great! Now if we can get the schools to purchase them! North Pocono High School teachers asked for rope ladders for the second and third floor classrooms for escape in case of a fire or shooter. The school said it would cost too much even though it was only about $500 total and could save lives.

  • JP

    As someone that is progun and a parent of soon to be school children, I think this is a great idea. Although it might not solve all instances of guns in schools, which possession is already illegal, it may give the staff and students the time to exit through a window or for help to arrive. People just jumping on the gun BANdwagon, isn’t the solution either. As a parent I would personally pay the price for something like this to keep my kids safer. And it shouldn’t need to be replaced for a very long time if properly built. All for keeping all of our kids safe. I’m glad someone is at least trying to use some commonsense.

  • Sharon L Deklinski

    Some classrooms have large storage closets. Put wheels on them that can lock and have it positioned somewhere near the door. Push unit in front of door and engage lock on wheels. I don’t think you could get past it plus any window on the classroom door would be covered by the cabinet.

    • Brittany

      Yea, but not all classrooms have those cabinets, or something heavy enough to block the door with. This seems like a quick thing that a teacher can pull out, snap on the lever, and know they are safe. It doesn’t look too expensive to manufacture either, so they could be cheap enough that every classroom in the school could have one.

    • JP

      I would imagine their are some teachers that wouldn’t be able to move anything heavier than the person that may be trying to get in. A sleeve would seem to be much easier to move and can be mounted right next to the door, if not even right on it. As far as cost, I think some of the schools could incorporate building a similar device right in their shops (i.e. metal shop) as part of a project. Couple pieces of channel and flat steel and would just need to be cut to size and welded. Probably could even get the material donated by a local business or community group. Great Idea though.

    • Brittany

      Deadbolts can be shot off. You can’t shoot this off. And I’m not really concerned about price anyway, when it comes to kids’ lives. Either way, this seems like a relatively cheap, easy-to-use failsafe.

      • Irina Clay

        But can’t the shooter just aim up where the closer arm is located and shoot that off too? (I’m not arguing, am just curious how easy it would be just to shoot that off the door, cause isn’t it connected by just a couple of bolts?)

      • shosts

        Irina clay they can not shot it off because they can not see it from the outside…. they would have to shoot through the door and then try to shoot it off since it is made of heavy steel it wont happen the locks are made of brass or zinc easy to break even with a hammer…… Try using a little critical thinking

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