Experts discuss gun safety for children

RAPID CITY, S.D. -

It's hunting season, and for many in South Dakota, giving children their first gun for Christmas is a milestone. But with this memorable moment, comes incredible responsibility.

"When you do purchase a fire arm,” said Chris Dekker, a wildlife conservation officer. “That’s a big responsibility … you have to have a way to lock that up and make sure nothing happens with that when you're not around."

It’s recommended in a house with children that once you're done using the gun, you then remove the magazine and place some sort of locking mechanism inside the gun. Once it's locked, make sure that the key is not somewhere those kids can find it.

"Every gun should be provided with some sort of locking device,” said Fire Arms Instructor with Smoking Gun Chris R. “Some manufacturers have it built into the gun, some provide a separate cable lock, and any person that buys a gun especially like a used one or something, and if it doesn't come with that locking device we have them to give out."

Locking it prevents it from firing, but placing it in a safe is also a sure way to protect your children from getting their hands on them. Many experts also agreed the source of safety is knowledge.

"It's great that dad wants to buy his kid a gun and take him out and show him how to shoot, and go hunting and what not,” said Chris. “That’s how I grew up too, but formal training is going to be a little more constructive you’re going to get some different opinions and different styles of shooting and safety."

It’s also recommended any first-time gun user should take a safety course.

"When I teach kids gun safety,” said Dekker, “and I take kids hunting, we learn about them we respect them, and we teach them that respect, that takes some of the curiosity factor out of it, but keeping them locked up at home when they aren't being used is really important."

Outdoor Campus West offers gun safety courses for children and people of all ages, you can find more information here.

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