With prospects for gun control legislation largely stalled or nonexistent across the United States, and with a growing tally of mass shootings in Portland, Seattle and Las Vegas fresh in American minds, a few Iowa middle school teachers have invented a device they say can protect people from mass shootings.
In the latest attempt to find peace of mind in a country where indiscriminate gun violence appears to be the new normal, Fighting Chance Solutions has created the Sleeve, a new take on a traditional doorjamb that prevents a door from being opened from the outside.
Priced at $65, its inventors see it as an affordable prevention method to protect students and teachers. It joins other devices already on the market including the bulletproof backpack and the bulletproof blanket in trying to protect against violent acts in a country that assumes a ready supply of guns.
“We look at it as a cheap insurance policy,” social studies teacher Dan Nietzel, who helped invent the barricade, told the Iowa news affiliate Q13 Fox.
He said the Sleeve would allow teachers to secure their classroom doors without having to go outside, where a potential shooter might be lurking.
On its website, below an iconic surveillance photo from the 1999 Columbine High School shooting, Fighting Chance Solutions describes the vivid fear teachers live with during school shootings.
“Bang, bang, bang, the repeated nature and unmistakable sound confirms what you suspect, the nightmare scenario of an active shooter is unfolding in your school,” the site reads.
According to Jame Hayes, an art teacher who helped devise the triangle-shaped door bar, orders have started pouring in from across the country, and not just from schools but from businesses and hospitals.
“We’ve had all sorts of places that have interest in them,” Hayes said. “It’s crazy how this has blossomed on us.”
Hayes said the Sleeve isn’t intended to serve as a substitute for legislation or any other measures that could diminish the frequency of school shootings, but merely as a safeguard given the growing threat of public violence.
“It comes as a response to us having to deal with the constant thought of a threat,” Hayes said.
“It’s a very unfortunate product,” Hayes added. “We hope that the people who buy never use them. We hope they gather dust.”
Nietzel said he came up with the idea for the Sleeve after the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in December 2012, where a young man armed with a handgun and assault rifle killed 20 children and six educators. Since then, at least 74 school shootings have occurred across the country, an average of more than one per week.
Local law enforcement authorities trained teachers on what to do in the chaos of an active shooter scenario and advised teachers to secure doors from the inside by tying a cord around the door’s swinging arm.
In the simulation, this method didn’t end well, since the cords tore, Nietzel told Q13 Fox.
“The officer who was portraying the active shooter came in and killed all of us,” Nietzel said.