Growing up in a NYC suburb in NJ you didn't see many guns in the hands of civilians. Police, yes. Military honor guards, yes. A few bolt actions in the homes of Sussex County hunters, yes. But in general, I grew up believing that guns were not ok in the hands of the average person. I really couldn't even tell you what the 2nd Amendment was at that time. I didn't own my first firearm (a .357 revolver) until my 30s.
Its not that I didn't enjoy shooting. At Boy Scout summer camps I hit the range for rifle shooting using the camp's Ruger 10/22s. For fun we did some skeet shooting with some side-by-side shotguns and silhouette shooting with 30-06s. But still, I didn't own any firearms and thought they were not a good idea in the hands of civilians.
My attitudes started to change when I went to school in the southwest. I saw more people carrying sidearms. Rifles and shotguns were in pick-up truck racks. My friends, who were described fairly as 'crunchy granola', had rifles and handguns. As I made friends with locals who lived out of town and had shotguns handy for dangerous animals or people. They talked about how they were responsible for protecting their livestock, pets, kids, etc from predators because police were not around and would take too long to arrive.
When the AWB came around, I thought, "Who would need one of those? They are just made to kill people in crimes." I thought they were machine guns. When the Columbine massacre happened, I was puzzled because I thought those weapons were banned. When the background check became law, I thought that would keep guns out of the hands of criminals. I was puzzled when that didn't happen.
3 reasons I went from being an anti-gun nut to being suspicious of gun control hegemony.
1. Learning more about the creation of the 2nd Amendment as a protection of a civil liberty.
I came to understand the 2nd Amendment as a way to ensure that the people will always have arms in their possession so that they could serve in a militia if needed. Serving in a militia wasn't the only reason the people's right to keep and bear arms was protected, but local militias was one reason to protect the RKBA. Moreover, US vs Miller makes it clear that if a weapon could be shown to have "some reasonable relationship to the preservation or efficiency of a well regulated militia" then the people could keep and bear them. If Miller had been alive at the time of the trial and demonstrated that some short shotguns were used in warfare in WWI, the NFA (or parts of it) might have been ruled unconstitutional. The ability to keep and bear arms was a right to help the people protect themselves.
2. Some pro-gun control people lie.
My impression that the AWB was about machine guns was created by misleading news and activist videos showing machine guns when in reality the law dealt with semi-auto rifles. Another lie was that these so-called assault weapons were responsible for a majority of police deaths and that wasn't and isn't true. Also, the whole teflon-coated and Black Talon cop-killer bullets were complete fabrications.
3. I have reasons to keep and bear arms
The most important of these is self-defense, but I also enjoy recreational and competitive shooting. I doubt the unorganized militia will ever be called up, but I can be there if asked.
Today, I'm definitely on the pro-RKBA side of things, but recognize that some people have earned the distinction of permanently or temporarily losing the right and civil liberty to keep and bear arms. I'm all for NICS being expanded and allowing civilians to access it to conduct a background check before transferring a weapon just like FFLs. Most weapons bans are useless. For example, Connecticut actually had a state version of the federal AWB that expired, and the AR-15 Lanza used to massacre school children and their teachers was totally compliant with CT law. The same gun would have been compliant under the proposed AWB of 2013 with a different handgrip that cost a mere $35.