I purchased my first firearm, a Ruger 10/22, back in 1986 from a sporting goods store in a mall. I handed over my money, filled out a yellow form (back then, everything fit on the front), showed them my driver's license, and walked out with my purchase. There was no background check. The manager did not carry my rifle and ammunition to the exit; to the contrary, I ate lunch in the food court with a big white box that said "RUGER" in my lap and the bag containing my Ram-Line folding stock and 25-rd magazines next to my chair.
Shooters who didn't get into the whole "gun thing" before the early '90s will find this a bit shocking. No background check? Carrying a "pre-ban" weapon and magazines through a mall? Hey, the past is another country; they did things differently there. I mean, the mall in question had ashtrays.
By the same token, shooters of the generation before me will have wistful observations of their own. After all, they probably didn't have to fill out any forms when they bought their first gun. They may have even ordered it through the mail. From Sears.
People tend to accept as status quo whatever they're used to. A generation of American kids has grown up walking through metal detectors at school, their clear or mesh backpacks scrutinized for butter knives or aspirin bottles, whereas I remember the occasional deer rifle in the back window of a pickup truck in the senior lot. (There's another vanished icon in much of America; an unsecured rifle in an unlocked truck...)
What are gun owners now coming of age in California or Massachusetts going to consider "normal" and "reasonable" restrictions?