When Jayson Wolbert heard about December's school shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut, he thought about his own kids.
“The thought of somebody coming into my kids' school, I mean it scares me everyday,” said Wolbert, “I'm trying to prevent that.”
Wolbert, owner of Empire Lock & Safe, devised the Classroom Defender. It's a device designed to keep kids safe in the classroom in the event of an active shooting.
“When the shooter is coming down the hallway, you don't want your teacher to be in front of the door,” said Wolbert.
Wolbert's design is similar to a deadbolt, with one major difference.
“It mounts on the bottom of the door,” explained Wolbert, adding, “That's the problem I'm having with the fire code.”
Tennessee fire code requires all locks and latches to be mounted at least 48 inches above the floor.
The Classroom Defender was also deemed non-compliant because it, when paired with a door handle, requires two operations to unlatch.
The state's fire prevention division determined the Classroom Defender requires special knowledge to operate, and that young children may not easily unlatch the bolt.
Wolbert told Nashville's News 2 the codes need to be updated.
“The device is not actually the flaw. The flaw is the fire code,” said Wolbert. “When the fire code was [written] it was [written] to protect people from fire, not active shooters.”
Tennessee State Rep. Joshua Evans told Nashville's News 2 that amending the fire code is a challenge, but can be done.
“I don't think we need to rush into something,” said Evans. “[The Classroom Defender] could make a real difference, but we also have to consider the fire risk.”
Wolbert stands behind his product. He told Nashville's News 2 he hopes the code is changed to allow the Classroom Defender in schools.
“I have a lot of schools that want it, and I honestly believe it's going to save a life,” he said.
The Classroom Defender costs $35.
Wolbert estimated an entire school could be outfitted with the devices for around $3,500.