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. . . It was not this way at all when I was a kid growing up. No one I knew anywhere owned guns, went hunting, went target shooting, etc. It was not part of our lives at all. . . .

You were in a different generation than me. I was born and raised in N.J. back in the 40s & 50s, back before the liberal politicians tried to ban firearms. Back in the 50s, I had a 12-gauge “long tom” shotgun that I mostly used to hunt ducks in Barnegat Bay and deer in the Pine Barrens (never did get a shot at Bambi, me). Many of the kids I grew up with had .22 rifles for plinking and shotguns for hunting (back in them days, only shotguns could be used for deer and small game. BB guns were illegal but more than a few of us had them. A number of older men had military rifles and pistols, souvenirs of WWII.

Back then we had to be at least 16 years old to buy ammunition, but since we had to be 17 for a driver’s license, we didn’t have an I.D. to prove our age so they would sell it to us when we told them we were 16. Back then most hardware stores, auto parts stores, etc., etc. sold ammunition. One needed a permit to buy pistols but one could buy rifles and shotguns at 18 with no paperwork. Walk into a store, tell them which gun you wanted, pay your money and walk out. All that started to change in the late 60s. In 1968, they started with a firearms owner’s I.D. card, which was free and not mandatory. A year or two later one had to show an I.D. to buy pistol ammunition, including .22 rimfire ammo.

Back in the 40s, 50s and 60s, Lenape Park in Cranford had a Union County run pistol, small bore rifle and shotgun ranges that were open on the weekend. I used to shoot trap with that old “long tom” before I gave it to my little cousin who lived in Toms River. There was an outdoor range near Watchung that I used to shoot big bore rifles like my 45-70, 300 H & H and 22-250 at. Ray’s Sport shop on Rt. 22 near Scotch Planes had an indoor pistol range in the basement and usually had a stock of over 1000 firearms on hand. They had a fire there in 1970 or 71 which leveled the building. They later rebuilt 5 or 4 miles further west on Rt. 22, with an indoor range for pistols & muzzle loading rifles. The liberal gun laws finally put them out of business in the late 80s/early 90s.

C.J.V. - Cranford High School even had a Rod & Gun club back then, yes
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