Interesting observation about the being gone and then coming back because the "boiling frog" theory is negated because of your absence you didn't experience the slow turning up of the heat, rather, you experienced the being thrown into the boiling water.
Your growing up sounds much like mine...learned to shoot at 5 or 6. Hunting rabbits on the farm whenever we would be there during hunting season. First shotgun for my 10th birthday...a 3 shot bolt action, magazine fed, 16 gauge shotgun.
Nothing for us to carry gun to school to work on a stock refinish or even mechanical repair with help from the shop teacher...rules...just let me know your bringing it.
Had a friend would ride his bike to my house before we got driver's licenses...he would come over to shoot. He looked like a gun porcupine on a bicycle. Never got stopped by the popo and no peeps cared.
As you say...try that now.