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."
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