Way back in the 1950s, when I was a young whippersnapper living on and working at Loring Air Force Base as a civilian employee of the Department of Defense, I owned what is now called an “assault weapon.” It was a Winchester .308-caliber, semi-automatic rifle. Little did I imagine then that 60 years later I would be vilified as a gun “nut” for owning it.

Like most Maine hunters, I used my rifle only during the fall hunting season to seek white-tail deer or moose. I can assure columnist Bill Nemitz (“Assault rifle owners have some growing up to do,” June 16) that my only fantasy was hoping to get a brief glimpse of a big buck and aim a quick shot before that elusive, graceful animal vanished into the woods ahead of a wagging white tail.

Over the years I was lucky enough to have tagged six deer. Venison and potato dumplings made for some succulent meals.

Last year, my son, a Vietnam War veteran, died prematurely from a brain tumor. He bequeathed me an arsenal of guns, 13 in all, including an AR-15 (A for ArmaLite), another so-called “assault weapon.”

My son had been a member of the Scarborough Fish and Game Association, who occasionally fired those guns only at paper targets. I joined him once. Those guns are now for sale in the hands of a reputable dealer, as my vision dims and my trigger finger trembles.

“Assault weapons” – fully automatic firearms that fire continuously when the trigger is held down – have essentially been prohibited by federal laws since 1936.

If the federal government can’t or won’t ensure my safety from radical terrorists, I want to have the same guns the terrorists have to kill us and the security guards have to protect the privileged few.

Walter J. Eno

Scarborough