Every kid growing up in the 1950s and 1960s played with toy guns, many of which looked like the real thing. The toy commercials of the era advertised these plastic replicas to millions of children with little or no ill effect,
I graduated from high school in 1968. There were some problem students. I do remember a student who robbed a bank during lunch and hid the money in his locker, but that was the rare exception. It was big news at the time because it was so out of the ordinary.
There were fights and petty thievery. The perpetrators were dealt with swiftly by the administration without having to worry that their parents would hire a lawyer and sue the school. There were no metal detectors. Lots of kids carried pocket knives.
My wife grew up in a small town in the northwestern part of Pennsylvania. The schools closed for the first day of doe and buck season. There was no reason to hold classes because most of the boys would be out with their dads hunting deer. No one ever took a gun to school to shoot anybody. You could see kids riding down the street with a rifle across the handle bars.
Many people do not know that many high schools across the country used to have shooting clubs. Consider the very anti-gun (anti-First Amendment) state of New York:
“In 1975, New York state had over 80 school districts with rifle teams. In 1984, that had dropped to 65. By 1999 there were just 26. The state’s annual riflery championship was shut down in 1986 for lack of demand. This, sadly, is a familiar story across the country. The clubs are fading from memory, too.
“A Chicago Tribune report from 2007 notes the astonishment of a Wisconsin mother who discovered that her children’s school had a range on site. ‘I was surprised, because I never would have suspected to have something like that in my child’s school,’ she told the Tribune. The district’s superintendent admitted that it was now a rarity, confessing that he ‘often gets raised eyebrows’ if he mentions the range to other educators. The astonished mother raised her eyebrows — and then led a fight to have the range closed. ‘Guns and school don’t mix,’ she averred. If you have guns in school, that does away with the whole zero-tolerance policy’”
Times have changed. Well, actually, people, moral standards, and schools have changed.
Consider this commercial for the Mattel Tommy Burst Detective Set.1 Note how realistic the guns look.
- Do you recognize the actor playing the gun-toting criminal? It’s Otis Campbell from the Andy Griffith Show. “Hal Smith was also the voice of many characters on various animated cartoon shorts including the Owl in the first four original Winnie The Pooh shorts (the first three of which were combined into the feature film, The Many Adventures Of Winnie the Pooh). He is also known to radio listeners as John Avery Whittaker in Adventures in Odyssey.” [↩]