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by Mike Casper

I like tools. I like really well made tools. Because of space limitations I don't own all I'd like, but the ones I do own are well made and function as designed. I have a Milwaukee heavy duty drill that makes holes in just about anything I can reach, and to drill holes beyond my reach I have an AR-15.

Good tools demand well trained operators. When I was a kid, boys of 18 registered for the draft and if they didn't enlist were soon called up. Induction meant a minimum of two years service and usually in the army. Bootcamp was a place to learn all sorts of useful things not the least of which was the proper use and care of the M1 Garand, a great tool if there ever was one. The army had a lot of neat stuff for a kid to learn to use . Mixed in with the tough training was a beginning awareness of how a young citizen/soldier was to act to gain the trust and respect of his peers.  A sense of purpose,of camaraderie, of need to follow orders for the common good of the unit - and most importantly, a young soldier learned to believe in himself and his new abilities. After his two year hitch, the boy went home a man and a better member of society. He was proud of his service to his country and felt good about himself. How important that is! Simply feeling good about one's self.

The draft is history. Teaching the use and respect of firearms has unfortunately, for the most part, been left to the demagogues. We have a surrogate based military filled with good young men and women who are looking for careers. Make no mistake, these are good soldiers as are the national guard and reserve unit people, but no longer do we produce the huge mass of young citizen/soldiers. No longer do we have a cross section of American citizen/militia, of trained men and women ready to drop their hammers and saws, their stethoscopes and blackboard erasers and even their cameras and note pads to take up arms in defense of liberty. No longer do we have millions of men and women from all walks of life who have the common bond of having served their country under arms. No longer do we have laced into our society the strength of numbers to laugh at and ignore with impunity the outrageous utterances of fools and the whining negativity of the media.

Our young men are no longer trained as warriors with no fear of weapons and with the resolve to be good Americans and protectors of the constitution; instead they are left to wander aimlessly in a country that seems to care so little for them that it refuses to give them the challenges that all young men need. They are like masterless samurai wannabes who quail at the thought of discipline - rudderless noncombatants in a war they don't have the strength of mind to recognize. They clog our court systems and prisons and are forever ruined by the experience.

I think it our duty, not only those of us who've been in the military, but any of us who have something to offer, to teach our young, to give them the tools and training, to make them feel good about themselves. We can do it by inviting a young fellow to go shooting, by getting together with a bunch of old timers and letting the kids listen to the voices of those who were really there. A hand up, a pat on the back, these can make a big difference in a young person's outlook.

We lovers of freedom have been demonized for our choice of tools. We've been made fun of and chastised by the very people that we and our comrades have fought and died to protect. And still we persevere, and still we go on.

Let us instill in our young the same pride, humility and love of country.

Boys still yearn to be men.  Men should first be warriors.