You can still - or could until recently - get Mosens for <$100. And I suspect 15 1950's dollars were worth at least 99 2011 dollars.
If you want to spend 2 weeks pay on a rifle you can still get a beautiful combination of blued metal and walnut. But now we have the option to spend a couple days pay and get something that will function about the same.
Some of the specific milsurp deals are gone, but that's the nature of discontinued products - there's a finite supply.
Ammo is cheap, and most people are pretty accepting of guns. It's certainly possible to intentionally make people uncomfortable, but I've never noticed a reaction when I travel with a gun case. But maybe that's more prevalent in rural areas.
Personally I'm glad you can no longer order a gun through the mail and have it left on the porch if you're not there to collect it. I'm also glad that people convicted of domestic abuse can't buy guns. And - in part due to the fact that one of my moms cousins accidentally killed one of his friend as a child - I'm glad that we've become aware enough about gun safety that's it's no longer culturally acceptable to leave loaded guns where children can get them.
The current shortage has nothing to do with government interference, or political heat from the con control crowd. It's entirely the result of all or us buying up everything we can. It's a vicious cycle - there's no ammo because we've bought it all, so when a shipment does come in we buy it fast (before someone else does), so there's no ammo.
If we all stopped buying ammo so obsessively the supply would normalize. SO I agree that - if we want to see prices come back down - we should take it easy and try to conserve for awhile. Preferably before the big national chains mark their prices up and extend how long the local shops can keep their prices up after the supply comes back.
The trick is everyone has to do it, and that seems unlikely.
si vis pacem para bellum