I want my cap gun for the Fourth

The Fourth of July was my favorite holiday growing up, even moreso than Christmas. Summer in Michigan was pretty special, and the fact that my father was in World War II gave special meaning to all holidays involving the fight for liberty and freedom.

But what I enjoyed most about the holiday isn’t legal for kids in all places today. There are too many rules, because, well, accidents happen, and some parents recognize an easy lawsuit buck when it comes along. Some states still allow it, but those are rare. And then there’s local government ordinances that carve it up even more. Of course I’m talking about fireworks.

this is what caps look likeThe most common for us was caps, little red tape with small bits of gunpowder in bubbles every few centimeters. The tape was made to load into cap guns and allow more realism with our imaginations. I loved caps and cap guns.

But on the Fourth, we’d get these little “bombs” into which you could load many caps. We’d toss them in the air and the weighted end would come down first, collapsing the trigger on impact with the street and making a very loud noise. God, those things were fun. Some stupid kid somewhere got a finger blown off or something and some lawyer made good money by suing the manufacturers with no regard for the idiocy of the kid who didn’t have proper guidance. This has been the course of our society and represents to me why we so badly need tort reform, but I digress.

We could also extend a roll of caps and put them on the ground and throw rocks at them. The endless fun of personal fireworks. Then there were the roman candles, the sparklers and the snakes. The day was one, big ball of fun, and we always had hot dogs and hamburgers, too. What kid growing up in the 50s could ask for anything more?

I especially liked the Fourth, because my birthday was just five days away.

They still make cap guns and sell caps, but they only have regional popularity. They’re available at Wal-Mart. Here’s a page full of them from toyarsenal.com. Sweet. Of course, it’s not very politically correct to link to such a place, but I’m waxing nostalic today, so cut me some slack.

I suppose Al-Qaeda could hit up Wal-Marts around the country and buy up their stock of caps to make a bomb, but really, I think even Wal-Mart employees would find that a little odd.

A Google search produces 323 million entries on the word “caps,” but in the 78 pages they gave me, I could find zero, zip, nada, no entries about the kind of caps I’m talking about. I found baseball caps, golf caps, a lot on the Washington Caps, hubcaps, market caps, Motrin 600 mg caps, graduation caps (and gowns), bottle caps, swim caps, lock caps, caps lock, salary caps, spending caps, a bunch of acronyms like the Chinese American Physicians Society or a Certified Aging-in-Place Specialist, ALL CAPS, lens caps, broadband caps, user caps, data caps, Geek Culture Caps and Beanies, the Polar Ice Cap, even Davy Crockett coonskin caps, but not one about caps or capguns. Not one. I even found an article about how baseball caps and flip-flops increase your risk for skin cancer by not covering your ears or the tops of your feet. This is what we’ve become.

On page 75 of the search, I did find The Complete Blackpowder Handbook, but it deals with ammunition caps, not real, um, caps.

This is, I suppose, one of those posts you can ignore, because I’m just an old guy in love with the way I grew up. Times have changed, you can argue, and probably be right. But I can’t help but think that some of this old stuff, this old way of playing, where risks were involved with imagination, produced a kind of fruit we don’t have today. You can’t fix stupid with laws and lawsuits, and you can’t teach responsibility without letting the students be responsible.

Never mind. I’m just ranting now, and I want to go enjoy some fireworks.


  1. Reading this article had profound affect on us and we LOVE it! We at CapGuns.org love how much you love cap guns and would love the opportunity to be a part of your writing. If possible, our company would love to place involved with your next articles, or this one, with CapGuns.org

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  2. Does anyone remember the little metal cap bombs that tou would tear off one paper cap, insert it in the bomb, throw it in the air, and let gravity do the rest. Good luck finding one of those!

  3. Its called a cap bomb! Amazon has them!

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