Once upon a time, small male children played with toy guns. These toys were often made of metal rather than plastic, and were sometimes quite accurate replicas of the hardware seen on television westerns, or in movies and TV shows about spies, soldiers or police officers.
These kids would play Cops & Robbers, Cowboys & Indians, and Armies, gleefully running around the house and garden ‘shooting’ each other (and passing strangers) and then acting out lengthy death scenes that would put to shame most of the Royal Shakespearean Company.
Often they would even use caps to add an audible touch of authenticity.
But even though the majority of these children did not grow up to be mass murderers, serial killers, homicidal maniacs or psychotic snipers, the last decades of the 20th Century saw a rise in power of the politically correct watchdogs and moral guardians, and suddenly the toy guns began to disappear.
At first it was just the realistic-looking toy guns which fell out of favour. Toy guns were still made, but exclusively of plastic, and in garish fluorescent colours instead.
This was primarily a reaction to the increasing use of replica or toy weapons in real-life hold-ups and seemed a reasonable step.
By the late 80s/early 90s though, it was considered politically incorrect to allow your children to play with toy guns (or weapons of any kind) – even lime green pistols or glow-in-the-dark orange rifles.