I am responding to Walter J. Eno’s letter (“Assault rifles have a place if terrorists have worse weapons,” June 25) to express my thanks for his son’s military service. My gratitude extends to the many veterans I have the honor to serve at the Togus Veterans Affairs clinic. All these men and women have accepted the grave responsibility of using deadly force in the defense of our country, often at the greatest personal peril.

I take exception with the notion that military-style weapons should be widely available to our citizenry. Let’s face it, these weapons are designed for one purpose only: to kill people, sometimes in large numbers. My hunter education course taught the principle “Ensure a fair chase.” To most sportsmen, this does not include carrying rapid-fire semi-automatic rifles into the woods.

I believe the use of these weapons should be limited to those who have undergone military or civil protection training in how and when to use them and – more importantly – when not to. I trust our service branches to limit their use to men and women who have demonstrated the self-discipline and judgment required to minimize unintended harm.

We live in a society that is generally protected from external threat, making successful “terrorist attacks” shocking to our national psyche. We are also exposed from a young age to fanciful notions of military action heroes supplied by Hollywood and reinforced by our gaming industry.

I would invite the opinions of military veterans who have personal experience in the use of deadly force, and refer readers to a commentary by Gen. Stanley McChrystal (The New York Times, June 16) in which he describes the efforts of the Veterans Coalition for Common Sense.

I look to our political leaders to get beyond partisan politics and gridlock-as-usual, and to take bolder and more courageous steps in addressing this crisis.

John Devlin

Cape Elizabeth

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