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The 97Percent Lie

Monday, April 8, 2024

The 97Percent Lie

The newest kid on the block in the gun-ban movement is a group calling itself 97Percent, which claims it has “a deep commitment to promoting responsible gun ownership and enhancing public safety.” In reality, it is just another in a long list of anti-gun advocacy groups claiming to promote “safety” while doing little more than working to undermine the Second Amendment.

Founded in 2020, the group derives its name from a discredited poll that tried to claim that 97% of gun owners support so-called “universal background checks.” We’ve previously debunked the notion that such polls have any validity, but that didn’t stop 97Percent from using the lie to promote its goal of criminalizing private sales of firearms.

Even 97Percent’s own surveys don’t support the group’s name. Ignoring the inherent flaws in polling “self-reported gun owners” by a group designed to promote anti-gun laws, the group’s own “data” indicates that support for “universal background checks” is rapidly diminishing among the people (claimed to be gun owners) it polls.

A 2021 survey posted to the 97Percent website indicates support for “universal background checks” among “gun owners” was at 86% at the time. The next year, their own survey showed support had fallen to 73%. The most recent survey, conducted in 2023, doesn’t even seem to include the question. That indicates one of two things. Either they stopped asking the question because they feared responses would show even more loss in support for the organization’s alleged raison d’etre, or they asked the question and were so disappointed with the response that they just deleted the results.

Either way, the group may want to consider changing its name to 73PercentForNow.

But “universal background checks” aren’t even the group’s goal. Instead, it is promoting mandatory permits—which include mandatory training—for all gun purchasers. In other words, registration of all gun owners.

So, how did that poll?

In 2021, they apparently didn’t bother asking—maybe because they were still pretending to just want “universal background checks” at the time. In 2022, only 47% of their “gun owners” supported permits for purchase or possession. Adding a training requirement dropped their support to 38%. By the 2023 survey, they stopped asking the question, likely because—again—they didn’t like the answers they were getting.

So, maybe their new name should be 38PercentAndFalling.

There is some interesting material in the 2023 survey, however, even if the group is avoiding responses they cannot seem to control.

Of the “gun owners” they allegedly polled in 2023, 18% thought that hunting rifles and ammunition should not be sold “under any circumstances,” while 21% felt the same about handguns and handgun ammunition. Those numbers seem awfully high for “gun owners,” unless they figure they already have theirs, and they don’t care about anyone else.

Another question asked these “gun owners” if they felt any groups had too much influence over our nation’s gun laws. The group that received the highest response for having too much influence was “Gun Safety Organizations;” a category under which one presumes 97Percent would fall.

So, what about the group’s claim it communicates with “fellow gun owners” to help guide policy. While that is certainly conceivable, the 97Percent website includes a number of “quotes” from “gun owners” that read like they were created by ChatGPT, or carefully crafted in a focus-group driven writers’ meeting. Then there’s the oddly-worded category of “non-gun owner.” What is a “non-gun” and how do you acquire one? What’s wrong with simply saying someone is “not a gun owner?”

To put icing on the cake of the possibility that 97Percent is simply pretending to include gun owners in their conversations, AmmoLand recently posted an article exposing yet another lie—or at minimum an obvious attempt at deception.

According to the piece, 97Percent recently made at least nine posts to X (formerly Twitter) featuring “top female shooters and/or Second Amendment advocates” (including their photos) in apparent celebration of Women’s History Month. And although 97Percent didn’t specifically say so, the clear intention was to promote the absurd notion the group has support from gun owners, and especially these particular gun owners.

The only problem was, these particular gun owners didn’t seem to have any idea about the campaign.

One was quoted in the article as saying, “I did not endorse their message. I gave no permission for the photo. It is unfair to use my image and likeness to give the perception that I support what they are all about. I certainly don’t.”

Another asked, “Why would an anti-gun group post a picture of me? They never asked to use the photo. This doesn’t make sense. At best, this is theft of intellectual property.”

Yet another woman included is none other than Kim Rhode, one of America’s most decorated Olympians who medaled in six consecutive summer games shooting skeet and trap. She has also been involved, with NRA support, in a legal challenge to unconstitutional ammunition laws in California. It seems unlikely she consented to being used as a pawn in the anti-gun campaign of 97Percent.

After these posts began being noticed—especially by those who did not consent to use of their name or image—97Percent quickly deleted them.

It really should come as no surprise that an anti-gun organization would use deception—if not outright lies—to promote its anti-gun agenda. There’s a long history of that within the anti-Second Amendment movement, and at least one of the key players at 97Percent has ties to the very beginning of gun control groups being misleading about their true goals or shifting their agenda with the political winds.

The the old-timer of anti-gun groups began in the 70s as the National Council to Control Handguns (NCCH). It first rebranded in the 80s as Handgun Control Incorporated (HCI) when it also joined forces with the National Coalition to Ban Handguns (NCBH), followed by another rebrand in 2001 to become the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence., and now it just goes by Brady.

In the beginning, as its first two names indicate, the group’s primary focus was on handguns—including banning them—but when that proved to be wildly unpopular with most Americans, the group slowly shifted with the political winds when it came to determining what “gun control” it would support.

One of the early leaders of NCCH/HCI, “Pete” Shields, has been all over the map when it comes to trying to elucidate his views—which, presumably, are also the views of the organization he joined in 1976 and headed from 1978-1989—making any number of claims that vary from alarming, to enlightening, to confusing, to even somewhat pro-gun.

In 1976, Shields claimed his ultimate goal was “to make the possession of all handguns and all handgun ammunition—except for the military, policemen, licensed security guards, licensed sporting clubs, and licensed gun collectors—totally illegal.” By 1987, he had apparently changed his tune, and he is said to then believe “in the right of law-abiding citizens to possess handguns…for legitimate purposes.”

Shields wrote a book where he claimed, “It is important to understand that our organization, Handgun Control, Inc., does not propose further controls on rifles and shotguns. Rifles and shotguns are not the problem.” That may sound slightly supportive of gun owners; but that book came out in the early ‘80s, before anti-gun organizations decided semi-automatic rifles like the AR-15 and AK47 were better bogeymen than handguns.

Today, under the name Brady, the organization proudly supports banning countless rifles and shotguns—a position it has held for several decades—as well as handguns. So, what’s the link to 97Percent? Another former head of Brady, Richard Aborn, sits on the group’s advisory board.

Ultimately, 97Percent is little more than another anti-gun organization, perhaps with slightly different packaging. There have been other attempts to create anti-gun organizations that pretend to be made up of “average” gun owners. The group Giffords tried this trick. Other groups, like Americans for Gun Safety (AGS)—founded by the late billionaire, and former HCI board member, Andrew McKelvey—claimed to be “centrist” and tried to appeal to gun owners, like 97Percent does, but simply promoted anti-gun policies; again, like 97Percent. Both efforts failed to attract many actual gun owners, and while we cannot guarantee the same will happen to this group, we’ll go with there’s a 97% chance.

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