weather icon Clear

Safety, storage are biggest issues for new gun owners

Firearms have long been part of America’s gift giving tradition, and no doubt many of you either received or made a gift of a firearm as part of your holiday celebrations. The question now is, “what are you going to do with it?”

At first that question might seem a bit elementary, but it isn’t meant to be. Obviously, you plan to give that new firearm a test drive at the range, if you haven’t already, but you also need to think about what you are going to do with that firearm when you are not at the range?

There are two primary considerations that come with gun ownership. The first is safety – yours and that of those around you — and the second is protection of your investment.

“I would always highly recommend that you start with basic firearm safety, which everybody should take,” said Kevin McNair, owner of Tactical West, a Las Vegas based firearms training company. “And I think that could start with the Nevada Department of Wildlife Hunter Education class. That’s all safety, and I think people should take that whether you plan on hunting or not.”

When you are ready for something beyond basic safety, McNair and others offer training that ranges from introductory to advanced. “It all depends on what the objective is,” said McNair.

Even if you have been around firearms for years, it never hurts to go through a refresher course. And don’t overlook the manual that came with your new firearm. Every gun is different and has its own nuances. Taking a few minutes to familiarize yourself with your new firearm and how it is designed to operate can prevent problems in the field — mechanical or otherwise.

The other side of safety involves storage of your firearm while it is not in use and not on your person. McNair encourages gun owners to “Lock ‘em up so they are not in the reach of other folks.” While the focus in recent years has been on lockable storage to prevent children from having access to firearms, McNair didn’t differentiate between age groups.

There are multiple options for securing a firearm, from simple and inexpensive to complex and costly. All provide a level of safety but also help to protect your firearm investment by deterring theft and preventing damage.

Entry level security options include cable locks and trigger locks. Neither one will prevent someone from picking up your firearm, but they are designed to prevent someone from firing it.

As its name implies, a cable lock uses a simple, plastic coated cable that is threaded through a firearm’s action, rendering it inoperable until the cable is removed. The cable basically functions as a flexible shackle on a padlock and will work on handguns as well as rifles and shotguns.

Cable locks range from about $10-$50. Many manufacturers are including cable locks with all of their new firearms.

A trigger lock is just what it sounds like, a lock that blocks a firearm’s trigger. When it is in place, the trigger cannot be accessed and thus prevents the firearm from being discharged. They are not designed for use on a loaded firearm. Typically, a trigger lock has two halves that come together over the trigger guard and lock in place. They retail for about $10-$20.

A lock box is simply a box with some type of a locking mechanism. They are designed primarily for securing handguns and can be used at home or on the road. Some use combination or key locks, while others depend on electronic or even biometric technology. Expect to pay anywhere from $20 to $300 or more.

At the top of the food chain are full-size gun safes. These safes — not gun lockers — come in a variety of sizes and configurations and can cost thousands of dollars. In addition to providing you with a place to store multiple firearms, a safe can also protect them from the elements, including fire. When considering the purchase of a safe, remember that like your firearms a safe is an investment.

Freelance writer Doug Nielsen is a conservation educator for the Nevada Department of Wildlife. His “In the Outdoors” column, published Thursday in the Las Vegas Review-Journal, is not affiliated with or endorsed by the NDOW. Any opinions are his own. Find him on Facebook at @dougwritesoutdoors. He can be reached at intheoutdoorslv@gmail.com.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Dove hunters need to check local rules before shooting

Even though Nevada’s big game hunting seasons already have begun, it’s opening day of the annual mourning dove season that has long been viewed by hunters as the “official” beginning of the hunting season.

Preparation key to preventing encounters with bears

In Nevada, the black bear population is located along the Sierra Nevada Front near Reno and Carson City far from Las Vegas, but in neighboring states, bears are widely scattered.

One thing anglers can agree on is topwater fishing

The phrase topwater action means just what it says — fishing activity that happens on top of the water rather than below the surface.

New duck decoy could be option for waterfowl hunters

The mallard look-alike was floating in a small tank of water when its head suddenly dropped forward in a feeding motion and into the water.

Fishermen must adapt to summer temperatures in Las Vegas

Water depth and temperatures have played a significant role during my past two fishing forays at Lake Mead. One occurred late in the afternoon and the other early in the morning.

Respect for public lands will keep them open

For lovers of the outdoors, one of the greatest things about living in the American West is the vast amount of publicly owned land that is available to us.

Remembering ‘The Wild Man,’ who lived life to the fullest

Some of you will remember Hyrum Nielsen as the young boy whose outdoor exploits were documented in this column as he grew from boy to man and eventually left home.

Extra caution should be observed when fishing from kayaks

According to a U.S. Coast Guard 2017 report on recreational boating accidents, the second largest number of deaths occurred while people were using a kayak.

Book offers tips on uses for Swiss Army knife

The book focuses on using the Swiss Army knife in various survival situations, but the tips can be tailored to just about any quality knife or multitool.