Speaking from my own experience as a kid in the eighties, my parents allowed me to have toy guns and play "war," "Special Forces," and "hunt the enemy" to my heart's content whenever I felt the need to get together with friends or my cousins and do so....act out the whole "boy with toys" thing.
They countered the plastic rat-a-tat-tat plastic Uzis, M-16s and pistols they allowed me to have with constructive learning toys, books, art supplies and video games (Atari, Colecovision, the earliest Nintendo system) so as to encourage (mostly) peaceful creativity, thinking and problem solving skills. Yes I pointed my trusty plastic Uzi that made the loud rat-a-tat-tat when you pulled the trigger at my cousins and shouted "gotcha! Fall down, I nailed you!" But when that was done I came inside and drew. Sketched. Wrote short stories. Read books. Comic books. Learned history and geography. Played video games (the most violent of which in 1985 wasn't even as raunchy or bloody as two seconds in one of the Grand Theft Auto franchise). Watched PBS. Studied insects.
This is similar to the approach my folks took. My mom used to hunt with her old man quite a bit growing up, and had a shotgun in her closet. She made no secrets about it. It was also disassembled and the bullets were kept somewhere else.
My grandparents had a good sized piece of land in the Catskills, so occasionally our family and my uncle's (her brother) would visit for the weekend. The two of them would get together and shoot tin cans off a fence post. They dragged me and my cousin (the one noted above, to no avail I guess) out a few times and demonstrated how to safely handle things. It was very slow and deliberate. When I started learning how to shoot last summer, it was on an air rifle (you'll put your eye out!) for crying out loud.
My parents didn't care if I played Laser Tag or Super Soaker or anything like that, but they too disapproved of authentic looking toys or shoot 'em up games.