Remember those neat-o toy guns from your childhood? The wood-and-metal bolt-action rifle that had a painted-wooden "bullet" visible when you opened the bolt? (My baby brother had one) How about cap guns?*
They're still around. I mentioned the rifles to Tam, reading someone's comments on their relatively gun-free childhood and she remarked, "Oh, those rifles! I still remember that they were made by some company called 'Parris.'"
...And they still are. Retail site here. Toys just like you grew up with! (Except for those orange barrel tips).
Some people -- some gunnies -- are not comfortable with the idea of toy guns. There are people who believe they encourage an overly-casual attitude towards firearms and that is a decision parents must make for their own families. I know the distinction between toys and the never-to-be-touched Real Thing was made early on in my family, and as us kids got older, my Dad started making mention of how to carry the little wooden toy rifle and where it should not be pointing, half-joking at first and a little more seriously as we got older. (I don't remember him ever much worrying about the all-metal, solid-barrel cap guns, which were hard to take seriously as "firearms.") By the time I had started shooting a real bow with target-type arrows and baby brother's first spring-powered BB gun had shown up, we were ready for serious safety instruction and we got it. But that's just one approach.
* There were cap guns around as far back as I can remember, growing up. Make of it what you will; that was in the days of paper-roll caps, when I'd get fed up with the lousy feed mechanism in the cap gun and use a hammer and a concrete block to make the caps go "bang!" Yes, I was a childhood gunpowder junkie; I've admitted it and I feel better. for having done so.
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