Back before the big gun blogs existed, back before President Obama was elected, the AP ran a news article that showed how much the culture has been conditioned to fear firearms: “‘I grew up at a time when people were not afraid of people with firearms,’ said (Supreme Court Justice Antonin) Scalia, noting that as a youth in New York City he was part of a rifle team at the military school he attended. ‘I used to travel on the subway from Queens to Manhattan with a rifle,’ he said. ‘Could you imagine doing that today in New York City?'” I have heard other reports of people carrying long guns openly in New York City in the 1950s, with no police being called, no schools locked down, no panic, no problems. Why was this so back then, but not now? . . .

It’s not the crime rate, at least not any more. The Big Apple’s crime rate now, after rising precipitously along with the enactment more and more gun control, has been cut in half as restrictions in the rest of the country on concealed carry have been eliminated and the number of privately-owned guns has doubled. Multitudinous reasons have been speculated about for the drop, but the facts make blaming more guns for more crime more and more difficult. The crime rate now is close to what it was back in the 1950s.

A friend who was a competitive shooter at the time informed me the during the ’50s, university pistol team members kept their guns in their dorm rooms. Even in the 1970’s, I did the same, though I suspect that there were probably rules against it by then. My roommate knew about it, and at least tolerated it, if not approved of it.

Do you have other examples of gun ownership that were seen as normal in urban areas during the 1950’s? Tell us about it in the comments. Let’s document those memories before we lose them.

©2014 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice is included.
Gun Watch

82 Responses to Remembering When Toting a Rifle in NYC was a Non-Event

  1. I was on the high school rifle team from 72-76 in San Diego, CA.
    3 times a week, we would check out a rifle and a brick of ammo, walk across campus with them to our cars and drive to the range. Our only rule was the rifles had to be in the trunk while driving.
    No carrying cases. Just slings.
    No panic. No lockdowns. No problems.
    My letter with crossed rifles hangs on the wall in my shop.

    • San Dieguito Class of ’76. A good friend of mine carried a .22LR rifle to shop class to work on it. No one noticed.

  2. I remember the Sears Roebuck catalog back in the mid 1950s you could order guns shotguns and rifles to your home. Boy haven’t exchanged I remember when you can go into a Kmart or an old Wilko here in Florida, and buy a shotgun or rifle or handgun and walk out with it. Oh almost forgot with no concealed weapons permit either.if you remember back in the 80’s Osman Sporting Goods in the mall used to carry firearms they stopped carrying them after a customer looking at one loaded and shot a couple people in the store. But now absolutely no stores are allowed to you in any of the Florida Mall have a sporting good shop that sells firearms. Owners won’t let that happen.

    • I have one of those Sears and Roebuck shotguns. My grandfather didn’t order it from a catalog. When he was a boy it was given to him as payment for doing chores for a neighbor.

      • Sears and Roebuck used to sell houses! They were basically pre-fab units, and they problem was getting them from a railroad siding to where you wanted to build the house. Some are still standing and inhabited; I see one every now and then.

        • There are two Montgomery Ward’s houses in my little SD town, every nail, pane of glass and pull handle was included. Pocket doors, inset china hutches, they are beautiful houses.

    • I was 12 years old in 1967, a seventh grader. My brother was eight. We picked berries (strawberries, raspberries – before the “child labor” laws closed that avenue for honest work by kids) at a neighbor’s farm all summer, so we could afford to each buy a Stevens single-barrel, break action, 20-ga. shotgun. When the money was saved up our Mom drove us to the local FFL, who ran his shop out of the gas station in a nearby town. He had ordered the guns for us and was selling them to us at dealer’s pricing, since he was a family friend. When the order came in, Mom drove us back again and we counted out our berry-juice-stained dollars for him, and he handed us each a shotgun, with a big wink to Mom. Still have that little shotgun and the fond memories attached to it.

      In college, 1975 or so, I was heading out to our summer field camp for geology students. I couldn’t take my revolver with me to camp, and didn’t want to leave it, unsecured, in my apartment. So I asked my geology prof if he could help. He said, “Bring it on up!” So I brought the Model 29 S&W, with a cartridge belt full of ammo, up to the science building and he locked it into a cabinet in his office for me. I don’t recall them locking down the campus.

    • Mail-order catalogues in the UK sold shotguns as late as 1978 or so (the last time I remember seeing them, though at that age I was quickly flicking past “camping & outdoors” to look at the bicycles and toy guns…)

  3. I grew up in NYC (b.:1955). In my very tough HS — kids inserted the bullets manually. Adults who carried handguns were cops, gangsters or cop/gangster. I very rarely saw any evidence of long gun ownership or hunting — even in blue-collar households.

    Moving to VT exposed me to broad civilian gun ownership – although it took me a long time to figure out that I could actually buy and own guns without knowing someone at City Hall.

  4. When I was an undergraduate at Columbia in the 1950s, I spent more time at Bannerman’s on lower Broadway and the White Brothers gun emporium in the Battery than I did in class. I frequently bought Civil War and Spanish War era long guns and swords, and also mail-ordered guns from Ye Old Hunter in Alexandria, VA. I was also a member of the college rifle club, which used mil-surp .22 target rifles in one of the school’s ancient steam tunnels. Back then, long guns were no big deal in NYC. Different times, different customs.

    • Can you imagine the ruckus at something called “White Brothers” today? 😀

      The Al & Jesse Show would be on them faster than a duck on a junebug.

  5. 50’s? Hell, me and my best friend used to walk blocks through my neighborhood with our air-rifles to go plinking on the edge of the neighborhood (shooting crawdads in the nearby creek) – this was in the 80’s. Now I routinely here of that exact scenario causing alarm and havoc on a regular basis.

  6. I got nothing from the 50s.

    I was at a public sportsman show handling suppressors and semiautomatic rifles in a High School in PA last summer.

    In high school in the 90s we had some Vietnam vets come into our history class and let us feel the weight and balance of an M16 style rifle vs an AK47.

  7. My dad used to take us boys to the NRA range & local gun show in Kankakee, Illinois. My dad was also jn the rifle club in high school. Nobody freaked out if they saw a long gun carried. This was late 1950’s-1960’s. Before Illinois sucked so badly.

  8. I remember a story I heard from an old stockbroker about the old Abercrombie and Fitch on Madison Ave in the 50’s when a rather elegant gentleman, after having his shotgun repaired on the “firearms floor” they then had, stepped outside to his waiting limo just in time to catch a presidential procession with Dwight Eisenhower pass by. Holding his (uncased) shotgun in one hand, he used the other to wave a cheerful greeting to the chief! No panic, no problem.

  9. My 5th grade teacher was a Civil War reenactor and a Mt. Man reenactor. When we learned about those time periods he brought his muzzle loaders and some cartridge fired revolvers into class and showed us them and allowed us to handle them. He also had us march up and down the halls in step and one of us would be the Sergeant and bark out commands. This was mid-90’s

    At the same time period, I had made a wooden replica of a Roman Gladius for a summer class, my dad helped me paint the blade with a metallic paint and polish it to a bright gleam. It looked good. While walking home from the bus drop off with it, the local cop pulled over and questioned me about my sword, I think he felt dumb when he realized it was made of wood.

  10. I used to take my single shot 22 to school put it in the priciples office and then go squirel hunting on the way home.
    This was in the middle 60s and was no big deal back then.

  11. The ’50s? Try the ’80s when every pickup and SUV had a rifle rack in the window, always with at least one long gun on display, driving down the road with no panic caused.

  12. Born and raised in Chicago and the burbs, I only knew one parent who was a hunter. I never saw guns, and none of my friends had guns or parents who hunted. The only time I shot one was a field trip to the skeet range in Lincoln Park (doubt its still there), and that was in 1974. I remember going to my grandmother’s funeral in backwoods Pennsylvania in the late ’60s, though, and the house where I stayed was full of guns. The son’s bedroom had a gun rack on the wall, and there was a stack of “old” rifles and shotguns in his closet. There was a gun cabinet downstairs full of rifles. Pretty much everyone in that town of 5000 hunted, but although my father was raised there, he never once spoke of going hunting, and never owned any firearms as an adult. (He did buy me a Crosman .22 CO2 pellet pistol though–I doubt my mother was too happy about that, and he bought my brother a Crosman “Olympic” 10 meter pellet rifle (CO2) that was ungodly accurate.)

    • The range is still there, but it is a golf range now. It closed down sometime around 1990. I think Daley shut it down for “littering” the lake with the broken clay birds. I was pretty young at the time, but I remember going there, and seeing some of the broken targets once or twice at Diversey harbor when I was smelt fishing with my Dad.

  13. Its those anti war idiots from the 70’s that have work assiduously to make the firearm the bugaboo it currently is. When they group sang “aint going to study war no more” the decided we all need to sing it.

    I remember small town in the 50’s cowboy wearing 45’s with live rounds riding in the spring parade.

    • Bull hockey. I was a Vietnam War protestor, and like me, many of them are 2A supporters. You should take your foot out of your mouth; it will give you toe breath.

  14. It’s called the pussification of America. More likely it’s the over prescribing of “o I’m sad” drugs. Really it’s a large swath of our population who just cannot think for themselves and attach meaning to an object. You can thank every cop / csi / law & order show and people failing to understand its entertainment, not reality.

    I recently help closed a street next to a school and while videoing the improvements, was stop by two separate police jurisdictions responding to parents calls that a strange man was walking on the sidewalk videoing. The stupidity of parents thinking a man on foot was a problem and making the call to protect the neighborhood.

  15. The difference is that in the 1950s, the following were absolutely unheard of:

    – mass shootings in public places such as schools and movie theaters
    – complete ignorance of mental health issues, as generally institution was still an acceptable and effective practice
    – dangerously mind-altering, behavior-changing medications prescribed to every person who may feel a little bit down today
    – teenage gang members bringing stolen guns to school in cass they need to shoot a rival member after class
    – armed street gangs and gang crime in general
    – children being raised without fathers, who would teach them to properly handle and respect firearms
    – rampant petty crime, property crime, and violent assault possible at the drop of a hat, depending on the color of your skin and the neighborhood you find yourself walking through

    …and so on.

    I am not trying to justify anti-gun laws or the visceral reaction that many have to the sight of guns. I’m merely stating that our culture has been broken for so long, many cannot stop to recognize how we even got here, bit by bit.

    Ironically, many of the things I stated are equL reasons to be armed, but anti-gunners will never recognize them as such. Many of them will not look at these symptoms of a broken society and say to themselves, “gee, we should really fix that, but until then, we’ll let people protect themselves from it.” This way of thinking is completely foreign to them.

    Unfortunately, if an anti-gunner put together a similar list to what I just dropped here, it would not put emphasis on the fact that we live in a broken society in desperate need of repair. The problem would be that there are “guns everywhere.”

    • You are wrong, according to the Wikipedia, there were 20 school shootings in the 1950s — the new was around. See link for reference http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_school_shootings_in_the_United_States#19th_century

      What was not around as the 24/7 cable news loop and the MSM using every tragedy they can for ratings. We have replaced much of the rationality of the 50s, with irrational emotions. We have politicians that feed on emotions and we have a population who has been trained that feelings are more important than facts. We have the progressive collective and group think instead of standing out from the crowd. Society today has been taught to follow the crowd than to be independent. Facebooks and its statistics it sells depends on you either being an influencer or a followers and they know there are more followers than influencers — being one of many followers is safer than being one of many individual thinkers. Things like independence and liberty are scary because it means you can be found alone in arguments or in your social group.

      • What was also not around, was the belief that the 2nd could be trashed by the judiciary to quite the extent proven possible today. The halfwits in that era, were still generally resigned to the notion that whether they personally liked them or not; firearms ownership was, and would forever remain, legally protected in the US.

        The fad of judicial activism and lawyerphilia ushered in by the print-and-borrow-rather-than-make-and-earn generation, killed that one dead. Presenting much increased leverage for those attempting to claim the social/political limelight by mongering unfounded fear.

        • What we get today are people who say, “I support the second amendment but I don’t feel (or think) that this or that should be acceptable.” Instead of reading the 2A, seeing the plain meaning of the limit on government; they are compelled to express their feelings or thoughts on the matter as if it somehow invalidates how binding the Constitution is upon government. It makes my head spin. (To those I described:) Don’t like how the 2A limits government? Fine, express it and even try to get it amended but please stop spouting off personal opinions and drawing lines as if it somehow amends the document. That mindset is part of what’s destroying our nation, IMHO. Be ethical and moral. At least admit that the 2A prohibits government infringement. Lodge your complaints and express your opinions but please go out of your way to at least recognize shall not be infringed.

    • Gotta disagree. All your points existed where I grew up in The Bronx (except mass shootings in schools). Gangs were a major problem then as now, gang wars were legendary, crime was rampant and heroin use was also rampant. Still, I used to be able to carry my rifle on the subway in a soft case that did nothing to disguise it.

      What has really changed is 50 years of leftist indoctrination.

      • And right(as opposed to wrong)ist tacit complicity.

        There always was, and always will be, people looking to strip you of your freedoms, rights, self determination and belongings. The question is, are they being effectively opposed?

  16. I remember as a 6th grader in the early 1980’s having classmates bring rifles & shotguns to school and explain how they worked for show & tell.

  17. Unbeknownst to many CT parents, many older high schools built at late as 1975 still have a gun range in the cellar of the school where there were rifle and air rifle teams and they would even travel on school buses with their guns to other schools for matches. Field trips to CT Gun Alley where also common place because of the manufacturing boom of the time. Kids used to wear Colt, Remington, Marlin, etc. shirts, hats or what have you to school because their parents worked at the various factories. Many of the companies had gun lockers for employees, some of those old buildings that have not been torn down still have the lockers you can see.

    As we have advanced Technologically, we have regressed in other ways like a society much like cavemen who were probably afraid of fire. The entire discussion of firearms is irrational and emotional — all you have to look at is the many (not all) millenniums who are scared of their own shadow and cannot go to a job interview without their parents being around — this is what we have made of this country– a nation of wimps!

  18. Early 80’s, I used to shoot NRA sanctioned small bore in an old gymnasium at the high school I later attended. At that same HS, it wasn’t unusual to see shotguns or rifles in car racks. In HS physics, the teacher set up a demo on kinetic energy in which he fired a .22 short into a wooden block. He did it in class. Told everyone to cover their ears. Nobody freaked out. And we never had a gun-related incident of any kind in our local school district.

    This was in Southern CA, if you can believe it.

    • I did a similar physics experiment in my high school back in the mid 70s wit the full blessing and endorsement of my physics teacher. We had an air track in the physics lab, so I brought my pellet pistol to class and built a target can with newsprint stuffed into a coffee can on the slider “car”. Then I used strobe photography to measure the velocity of the slider after being hit by the pellet. From that velocity I used the conservation of momentum to calculate the pellet velocity…about 700 fps IIRC.

      My teacher was so glad to see a student get enthusiastic about real-world applications of physics. And his teaching reflected his own enthusiasm for the subject matter. Probably more than any other person he’s responsible for me going on to become a mechanical engineer. He had his own grounding in engineering, having been a mechanical engineer during WWII and working on welding of the Liberty ships.

  19. I grew up in Sparks, Nevada in the 80s. My mother’s boyfriend was a truck driver, and around ’83 after one of his runs he brought home a couple air force practice bombs, they looked like the kind that you would see falling out of WWII bombers in old video clips. They were probably 4 feet long and weighed 30 pounds or so. We just left them laying around in the yard.

    In second grade I brought one to show-and-tell. A bomb. To my elementary school. There was no lockdown, no media circus, no suspension, no nothing. In fact it was well received. I had a hell of time carrying it to the two blocks home, being a 7 year-old. As I was slowly dragging it home I recall an OD Green jeep driving by with a couple GIs in the open cab. One of them said, “That kid has a bomb!” and they both laughed and drove on. That was all the negative attention I got.

    Times have changed.

    • Adam, I have one of those practice bombs in my garage at this very moment! it has been a fun conversation starter with neighbors or friends who stop by and happen to spot it, from time to time.

      I’ve been trying to figure out what to do with it for many years, I’ll probably turn it into a pool table light or something.

  20. In the show Mad Men, Pete Campbell bought a .22 after returning a hideous wedding gift. Although I disapprove of the way he waved it around, I thought it was neat that basically no one had an issue with him having it in his office. Then several episodes later, he had it casually slung over his shoulder during the big move to the newly re-formed Sterling Cooper…I give the writers of that show credit for understanding that back in the depicted time period, guns weren’t as big of a deal…

    • I worked at a big Boston ad agency in the 1970s and ’80s. We had the Winchester account, and I always had guns in my office. I even had a large safe that we kept the guns in. On any number of occasions, I cleaned guns in the lunchroom kitchen.

  21. In the 90s we were making swords in metal shop and keeping shotguns in our vehicles to go rabbit/pheasant hunting after school. The principal was totally ok with it as long as the guns were not loaded in the parking lot.

    Now you get suspended for a pocket knife.

    • Now you get suspended for making a pop-tart look like a gun or pointing a finger at someone and saying “pew pew pew” — common sense of your principle has been replaced by “no tolerance” policies where administrators do not have to think in emotional situations and simply follow the letter of the law and when people complain they can simply say over and over and over again that they are “simply following the rule” or ” simply following the law” — it is so much easier when you do not have to make decisions or weigh the facts.

  22. There was a documentary about Indianapolis getting the super bowl that showed residents hunting pigeons downtown in the city during the 50s or 60s because the pigeons had gotten the so bad.

  23. Yup. Even in high school in the 90’s, truck racks, rifles and shotguns were still pretty normal. It wasn’t until Columbine they all quickly and quietly went away. The funny thing about that is, the AWB, the GFZA, and all that other 90’s stupidity was already in full effect, and yet nobody seemed to care until then.
    It’s a helluva thing, watching the whole world change from the time you’re a freshmen in high school to a freshman in college. By that time, it was like a completely different planet than the one I started school on.

    • I agree with this. We talked about our guns in school. Kids brought them in their trucks in the 90’s. I was so unaware of gun laws that I didn’t know until 2008 that the AWB had been repealed. I bought an AK that same day.

  24. Back in the 50’s and 60’s my dad and uncle used to go around some of the more marsh-type areas in Queens near Idlewild Airport (now JFK) and hunt birds. They used to fish around there as well, although I don’t think I would eat either from that area now a days.

    Back in the 80’s some of us kids would take toy water guns to school and play during lunch. We would also play out in the neighborhood with realistic-looking toy guns (I even had a 1:1 scale M-16 with “real war sounds”) without having to fear being shot by the NYPD.

    Both of those activities would probably elicit an ESU Hercules Team in today’s “City that never sleeps stops regulating crap”.

    • It’s awesome reading these stories. It’s not just my imagination that things were way more chill 30 years ago.

      • Yep. I was even on a high school rifle team in the 90’s… but that was in AZ. To the best of my knowledge, the rifle team still exists today.

  25. When I was in 9th grade in Junior High School in Sand Diego we had a terrific wood shop teacher. He was a WWII vet and would hesitantly admit it. After a bunch of asking he brought in his war trophies including several rifles and swords to class. It was seriously cool!

    Can you just imagine that today.

  26. 50’s? No, but in kindergarten (1979) I brought my toy plastic rifle for show and tell. The principal saw me walking with it, said, “Don’t shoot!”, laughed and went on her way.

  27. I took hunter safety through my Scout troop in 1967 at my school in rural Virginia. Our Scoutmaster expanded the course to a general intro to firearms and safe handling. So he and some of the other fathers brought in some of their own firearms for us to see examples of various types and become familiar with how they worked.

    It was taught in the gym of the local grade school in the evening. I can’t imagine too many schools would let that happen now.

    In high school, squirt guns were banned. The staff would confiscate them and return them at the end of the day. Not banned because they looked like guns, but because they were disruptive. Now you’d have a lockdown

  28. I split my time as a youth between country and city. From 12 to 16 I bought a number of guns at yard sales. Rode them home on my bike. In those days I never saw a gun safe. Dad had his guns in his closet and me and my brother had ours, with our ammo, in our closet.

    I’ve walked thru town with a shotgun on my way to a friends place out of town for hunting. The only time a cop ever questioned me, a minor, about the gun was to enquire what I was hunting. Never asked for ID or a hunting license.

    Rifle racks in pickups with rifles and shotguns were a common sight at the schools I attended.

    Mail order guns were also a common thing in my youth.

    Different country then.

  29. When I was a teenager in the early 70’s near Kenosha WI I lived at the end of a small subdivision about two block out side of the city limits, next door was a farmers field. We shot skeet, pistols and 22 rifles in the side yard, and hunted pheasants and rabbits behind the house and in the field next door. Never got a complaint.

  30. In the mid.80s I had store in the Compton CA mall during the X mas season ,The mall actually had a gun store in it . At the end of the season I bought a Dawoe k200 for I think about $600 and walked out of the mall with it slung over my shoulder. Wish I still had it.

  31. I was a teenager, and joined the Navy in the 50’s and I didn’t even know what marijuana, heroine, and all that other hard stuff was. Never heard of it. Nobody ever talked about it, The older we get, the more we learn.

    My memory bank is full now, have to forget something, so I’ll have room to remember something new.

  32. I was a kid in the fifties in North St. Louis. My friends and I spent many a summer afternoon shooting at rats down on produce row with our BB guns. As I recall we were welcomed with open arms and free veggies for our moms. We also brought our .22s to school on Fridays when we heading to scout camp for the weekend.

  33. I was in high school in Dallas in the 80’s. It was a non issue to have a rifle or shotgun in the rear window rack in your truck…on school property! In fact it was the cool thing to do. No one was afraid and no one ever got shot.

  34. In 2001 in middle school I got to handle a replica civil war revolver during a special thing where some reenactor came in to talk about the war. He fired a blank shot in the school yard for us, too.

    Not some rural town either, this was only a few mins from the state capitol building of MI, metro area is 250-300,000.

    And we routinely open carry around here, usually handguns but long arms are seen on occasion, cops won’t do anything about it, they got too much bad press one time

  35. 1970ish, me and a buddy of mine used to ride his mini-bike a mile or so to an area next to the Tijuana border carrying our Crosman 760 power masters to hunt. Our main goal was to shoot homing pigeons that were on the fly with baggies hanging from their feet.
    Got stopped once by a deputy. As soon as he saw they were BB guns, he left. We were 12 or so.
    Never did hit a flying bird.

    • Honda 50. Honda 70. Honda 90. How many kids could you fit on one and still have a chance to reach your destination? Lord, it’s a wonder any of us lived long enough to turn 18.

  36. When I was in highschool (late 70’s) I would carry my hunting rifle on the bus along with a ditty bag for my hunting clothes. No one thought anything of it. Once at school I would “park” my stuff in the principle’s office until the end of the day at which time I would change clothes, go out back of the school and hunt till dark.

    • Riley, no offense intended, but that guy was the PRINCIPAL.

      However, the principle remains the same.

  37. Like Riley, I carried a shotgun on to the school bus in the seventies. It didn’t seem out of the ordinary then. What’s strange is that today we have made great inroads on gun rights (conceal carry, ownership in Chicago), yet the thought of a gun on a school bus seems far fetched to most gun owners today.

    • Simply say the word “GUN” on a public school campus, and everybody freaks out. My children attended a small private school (in a very small southern town), and guns were fairly common on campus. During hunting season, almost every kid that parked a car/truck on campus, had a long gun of some sort on a rack in the back window. And though I never saw it, the rumor was that some of the male staff members had handguns “close at hand.” I guess our southern heritage and comfort around firearms alters our perception of what is dangerous.

  38. Grew up in a suburb outside of Seattle. I remember a guy in my 7th and 8th grade classes would go hunting in the Fall. Since his uncle (I think) would pick him up and head out right after school, he would bring his shotgun and park it in the back of the classroom. No muss, no fuss. This was in the late 70s.

  39. 1965 I’m 16 and have just gotten my drivers license. Had a small amount of money from odd jobs and that summer I drove out about 10 miles from my home in Long Beach, CA to the police pistol range. Cerritos, I think. Once there I told the Range Master that I wanted to learn to shoot pistol. He found me a revolver and sold me some bullseye targets and a box of reloaded .38 wadcutters, about $1.50 if I recall. I went back several times that summer and occasionally for the next two years until I joined the Navy. It was almost always a different RM but I got to know many of the officers that worked there. I had to slap the smile off my face on the way home so that my mother wouldn’t suspect what I was doing, otherwise I would probably still be locked up in my room.

    Every time I got home on leave I’d get to the range 1 or 2 times, now with some my personal pistols, first a Ruger Mark I, then a Ruger Blackhawk .357 magnum, and finally a 70 series Colt Combat Commander .45 ACP, silver-nickel finish (finish was not my choice but that is a long story.) That Commander has been my EDC for the past 10 years. During these later range visits I often took one of my younger brothers or a friend, and the officers were always helpful and friendly.

    At some point in the mid to late ’70s they closed the range to the public due to the area around the range becoming less isolated, and about 10 years later it was closed for good. Good times.

    Further story on the Commander, I had taken it with me to my duty station in Spain about 1973 on a military flight. When I returned about ’76 it was via a US commercial flight landing in NYC. I declared the pistol at check-in and they had the pilot come over to meet me. He said he would personally take care of it. When we landed in NYC he came out and walked me around Customs (I was in uniform, 2nd Class Petty Officer) then handed it back to me there in the terminal. From there I caught a flight to LA with the Commander in my carry-on.

    Not long after that the whole country was in the crapper.

      • If you liked that (and thanks for saying so) story I could tell you about the many flights I took between SF and LA in the very late ’60s and early ’70s to get home on leave. Many times the planes had more stews (all female and very young, in miniskirts) than passengers, stand-by flights were often free, and the stews really seemed to like sailors in uniform.

        Some, however, would think I was bragging.

        • Around 2000, my daughter and I were on a SWA redeye from ABQ to BWI. It was a sparse flight from the get-go, but after Chicago, we were the only fliers. The cabin crew took seats and went to sleep. Very memorable feeling.

          But I’m sure your stories are MUCH better! ;D

    • Dennis, similar experience on the airlines. In uniform with a shotgun in soft case. Cockpit crew ensured the weapon wasn’t loaded at the check in counter and they took it on the plane with them. Got to my final destination and they met me at the counter with my gun and a handshake. Walked thru the airport with duffle bag, awol bag and cased shotgun to the shuttle buses.

      Airport was San Francisco International.

  40. As a kid in the late 50′ early 60’s I can remember walking into a hardware store or even some drug stores and seeing barrels of surplus WWII rifles for sales at $10 to $20 each. There were Mausers, Arisaka’s, Garands, carbines and the occassional used military .22 target rifle. I can remember getting my first BB gun at about 6 and a .22 at 12. Use to go into the woods behind the house and shoot squirrels and we were in the city limits. I think things began to change after Kennedy was assasinated.

  41. I could only dream about times like those. In elementary school in the early ’90s we had some civil war reenactors bring guns to do a demonstration. They let us handle them and all I remember is them constantly yelling about not dry firing them. I got a chain wallet in middle school and by highschool they were banned because they were considered weapons. A different subject, but I had shop class in middle school and liked it. Now, as an adult, when I think about 20+ 13 year olds running around a room full of saws and torches I think it’s kind of crazy. I don’t think many schools have shop class anymore.

  42. I grew up in the country and went to a rural community school during the 50s and 60s. Every boy had a pocket knife with him all the time and, during hunting season, many boys would bring their shotguns to school so they could get together and go hunting as soon as they got out of classes. We used to bring our cap pistols to school and play gunslinger games on the playground at recess. In high school, I remember the school bus driver having his rifle in the bus during deer season and many teachers carried hunting guns in their cars. Virtually everyone had a revolver under the seat of their vehicles.

    Guns were for sale in lots of stores you wouldn’t think of today. You could buy pistols and revolvers mail order from Sears, Roebuck & Company or Montgomery Ward and the mail carrier would deliver them without a second thought. Army surplus and imported rifles were available cheap. I used some type of British made .303 (don’t remember any more about it) during one deer season that my father bought for $25. I learned to shoot on a single shot bolt action Remington .22 rifle. I bought ammo for it at a nearby Western Auto–if I recall correctly, Long Rifles were less than $0.50 for 50 rounds, Longs and Shorts were cheaper. I shot a lot of Longs.

    By the time I was a senior in college in the late 60s, I had pretty much quit hunting. But guns were still so available and cheap at the time, I traded a Browning shotgun for a fairly cheap guitar. A guy I met offered to sell me a Luger for $50…I didn’t have $50 at the time. Wish I still had the Browning and had somehow gotten together the money to buy that damn Luger.

  43. i don’t know about the 50’s but on the outskirts of pittsburgh in the 90’s u could run around all day with a bb rifle and up to 2002 i would carry my .22 rifle in a case through the halls of school to the rifle team safe without anyone even saying a word to me

  44. I got a very stern talking to by the principal in elementary school in the late 90’s in CT for bringing .22lr brass in to give to a friend.

    To me this was no big deal; I didn’t understand the fuss. It wasn’t even a functional bullet, I mean come on! Is what I thought. I knew we had guns at home, my mother worked at a range, I went shooting with my dad, and I shot in a junior rifle league.

    Today knowledge my mother worked at a range would probably be enough to be harassed constantly.

  45. I wasn’t around in the fifties, but I went to high school in the mid-to-late seventies. I remember that during hunting season, we occasionally went home with friends, planning to hunt after school. We would carry our shotguns/rifles on the school bus (the driver stored them behind his seat) When we got to school, we left our guns in the principal’s office, picked them up at the end of the day, got back on the bus, and went about our business – no muss, no fuss, no problems.

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