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Some US Gun Owners Support Gun Control

FILE -- Three variations of the AR-15 assault rifle are displayed in Sacramento, California.

FILE -- Three variations of the AR-15 assault rifle are displayed in Sacramento, California.

The image many people have of the stereotypical U.S. gun owner goes something like this: a flag-waving, Bible-thumping redneck who clings tightly to his firearms and lashes out at even the smallest government effort to regulate them.

That is not Dave Makings.

Makings, a retired university professor, owns a pistol, a couple of shotguns, a deer rifle and a Chinese version of the AK-47 semiautomatic assault rifle. He lives in rural southern Idaho, where he uses his guns to hunt for pheasants, deer, and elk - and in the event he needs them for self-defense. Guns also are a hobby for him, he says.

In those ways, perhaps Makings is like many gun owners. But he defies the gun owner stereotype in that he is not opposed to gun control measures.

Makings supports expanded background checks. He wouldn't mind restrictions on assault rifles, even if it meant giving up his AK-47. "I'd be very willing to give it up if it were part of a comprehensive program" to reduce violence, he says.

"The Second Amendment gives you a right to have a gun," Makings said in an interview with VOA. "It doesn't give you a right to have whatever weapon you want."

The viewpoints of people like Makings are often not heard in the debate over gun control that inevitably erupts after mass shootings, such as the one in Orlando, Florida, this month that left 50 people dead.

Instead, the debate tends to pit anti-gun advocates against the National Rifle Association and other pro-gun groups that reflexively oppose any gun control efforts.

"Being in southern Idaho, there are some of those more extreme folks out here," Makings concedes. "But I think there are a great many of us who are in that middle."

FILE - The owner of a gun shop holds one of the assault rifles his store sells.

FILE - The owner of a gun shop holds one of the assault rifles his store sells.

Polls show momentum

There's plenty of data to suggest he's correct.

A recent poll by Pew Research Center suggested 49 percent of U.S. gun owners favor banning high-power assault rifles.

Eighty-five percent of gun owners support mandatory background checks for all gun sales, according to another poll last year by Johns Hopkins University.

"When we poll Americans, we see strong support even among gun owners for stricter standards and increased accountability," said Daniel Webster, director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research, who helped conduct the poll.

Even among NRA members, numerous polls have shown there is wide support for gun control proposals, including background checks.

Congress reacts

But Congressional efforts to place tighter curbs on firearms have repeatedly failed, thanks to a partisan divide over the issue.

After the Orlando shooting, Democratic lawmakers tried to pass legislation meant to strengthen background checks and prevent those on terror watchlists from buying guns. The bills failed to pass, because of Republican opposition.

Kevin Green, a gun owner from Hillsboro, Oregon, says he is "quite angry" nothing has been done to stop gun violence. "It seems to me that Republicans are interested in being reelected, in scoring points with the NRA," he told VOA.

Green, who owns a .270 rifle to hunt deer and elk, supports universal background checks and says the terror watch list gun restrictions seem "reasonable."

"I don't think by limiting the type of gun we can own or the way in which we can buy them, that's not a slippery slope to Armageddon," he says. "We're not going to lose the Constitution or the Bill of Rights."

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