My first exposure to guns came when I was playing with my brother's G.I. Joe. Talk about firepower. The hard plastic soldier had revolvers and rifles and ammunition belts and hand grenades.

He was battle-ready, except that his creators gave him joints that allowed children to turn his feet backward, along with his head. All of his joints had a high degree of flexibility that I think, had he been truly tested, would have been his downfall — literally.

When I was a little older, I learned that my dad had a gun in the closet of his room. It was a shotgun and was kept next to a book about hunting crows.

But that was it. And back then, we weren't exposed to nonstop television programming or violent video games. We read books, played with less complicated toys and were sent outside to roam around, thus getting us out from our mother's feet.

To say times have changed is mild.

Last week I went to a high school football game and noticed a deputy stationed near the end zone with what appeared to be an assault rifle. Most people flowed back and forth near his post without giving him a second glance. It was my first football game of the year but I'm guessing it wasn't his.

The students, who are all at relatively self-absorbed developmental phases, may not have seen him at all. Or they may have noticed him the first time and then he became, like most adults in their lives, the furniture they navigate around without even realizing it.

He is their new norm. Just like learning in classrooms where the doors are always shut. Or being trained from a very young age what to do if an active shooter enters their school.

When G.I. Joe was first created in the mid-1960s, the Vietnam War was 10 years old and the United States was less than a year from getting involved.

Being a soldier was — and still is — a noble profession. But I'm not sure that G.I. Joe would have the same appeal today as he did 50 years ago.

Yes, little boys (and girls) can grow up to be soldiers, but they can also be pilots and astronauts and video game creators and computer technicians. 

The world keeps changing and we change with it.

Daily News Managing Editor Wendy Victora can be reached at 315-4478 or wvictora@nwfdailynews.com