SAF Report: Anti-Gun Group Poses as One of Us to Project Legitimacy to More Gun Laws

by Tommy Grant

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The California-based nonprofit 97Percent took its name from a debunked Quinnipiac poll that claimed 97% of Americans supported mandatory background checks. The group calls the remaining 3-percent “loud voices who have crowded out conversation and prevented collaboration between gun owners and non-gun owners.”

97Percent never addresses the problems associated with polling gun owners, including their unwillingness to tell strangers there are firearms in their homes – especially over the phone. Instead, 97Percent says it focuses on policies that both gun owners and non-gun owners support. Both sides, the group says, share the common goal of keeping our communities safe.

“Gun owners are essential to reducing gun-related violence, not part of the problem,” 97Percent states on its website. “We believe that real, productive conversations about gun safety aren’t happening because gun owners are not being invited into the dialogue. We want to change that.”

Founded in 2020, the group posts quotes on its website that it attributes to gun owners and non-gun owners, who are identified only by their first names. From a journalistic perspective, the quotes appear far too perfect to be real and most likely written by someone with a marketing background.

“I know I wouldn’t be affected by stronger background checks or mental health screenings and other programs like that, so I’m all for any legislation that keeps guns out of the hands of people who are incapable of using them responsibly. That type of legislation is inherently good and it’s not hard for me to get behind,” said Taylor, a gun owner.

“My support for criminal background checks shouldn’t automatically label me a gun-grabber. I think the conversation needs to be much more nuanced so that both sides can coexist and come to the table without feeling like everything you believe in is at stake,” said John, a non-gun owner.

97Percent’s executive director, Olivia Troye, said during a recent appearance on ABC’s The View, that her group’s mission is “to bring gun owners into the conversation and to bring them to the table, in order to work on reducing gun deaths happening across the country, while including them in the solutions.”

Troye was unwilling to bring one particular gun owner into the conversation or to the table. She declined to be interviewed for this story.

Despite Troye’s attempts to stake out a moderate and centrist position, an investigation by the Second Amendment Foundation’s Investigative Journalism Project found that 97Percent is nothing more than a run-of-the-mill anti-gun group, albeit one with better messaging and PR.

Some of the findings include:

  1. 97Percent has supported an “assault weapon” ban.
  2. 97Percent has supported a standard-capacity magazine ban.
  3. 97Percent has supported a bump-stock ban.
  4. 97Percent has supported expanded red-flag laws.
  5. 97Percent has supported permits to carry firearms.
  6. 97Percent has supported permits to purchase firearms.
  7. 97Percent has supported permits to possess firearms.
  8. 97Percent has supported the loss of Second Amendment rights upon conviction of a “violent misdemeanor.”
  9. 97Percent has supported mandatory storage laws, which would lead to mandatory home inspections by police.
  10. 97Percent has supported mandatory background checks, without acknowledging they would lead to mandatory firearm registration and the creation of a national gun registry.
  11. 97Percent claims the Second Amendment is “overprotected.”
  12. 97Percent claims “rapid fire guns” are not used for hunting or home defense but doesn’t define the term.
  13. 97Percent claims popular semi-automatic firearms are “weapons of war.”
  14. 97Percent claims constitutional carry results in increased homicide rates.
  15. 97Percent’s advisory board is stocked with radical anti-gun extremists, including a former president of the Brady campaign.

Mark Oliva, public affairs director for the National Shooting Sports Foundation, the trade association for the firearm industry, said 97Percent “masquerades as a centrist organization when in reality, it is just another radical element similar to the other gun control groups vying for attention.”

“97Percent pitches itself as a group of concerned gun owners. In reality, this is another gun control grift. They have never stood to protect the Second Amendment. They only seek to raise their profile by attempting to cleave the gun-owning community apart by claiming those who do not agree with their shifting radical platform are outside of the mainstream. Gun owners, and the firearm industry that supports them, won’t be fooled by attempts to divide gun owners by claiming their rights only matter when it comes to certain firearms,” Oliva said. “Now, that mask is off. They are openly advocating for bans on the most commonly owned and commonly used firearms Americans choose to own. These are firearms that used daily for recreational target shooting, hunting and self-defense. There are over 28 million Modern Sporting Rifles (MSRs) in circulation today. That’s more common than the most-popular selling pick-up truck – the Ford F150. They demonize these firearms, and the standard-capacity magazines that are used in these firearms, as ‘weapons of war.’”


Touting its alleged bipartisanship and inclusionary goals, 97Percent became a media darling.

“Will Gun Owners Fight for Stronger Gun Laws?” The Washington Post asked in a 2022 story.

  • “Good gun owners unite: A new group could help break the deadlock on firearm-safety laws,” The New York Daily News reported in a 2022 story.
  • “What We’re Missing About Gun Control,” 97Percent board member Congressman Seth Moulton wrote in a guest column, which Newsweek magazine published in 2022.

But as Oliva pointed out, 97Percent’s claims are pure gaslighting meant to hoodwink the legacy media into believing the group represents real gun owners. These claims were again proven false last week, when the group posted comments on X, allegedly from a gun owner.

“Listen to gun owners. We can reduce gun deaths in America without violating the 2nd Amendment,” the post states.

Until last week, 97Percent usually tip-toed around contentious issues like “assault weapon” and magazine bans, so as not to betray its true intent, and it rarely referred to modern semi-autos as “weapons of war.”

Despite its once careful semantics, a Washington Post story published in 2002 story titled: “Will Gun Owners Fight For Stronger Gun Laws?” reveals the group’s original goals. 97Percent is locked in with researcher Michael Siegel, a professor of public health at Tufts University, despite Siegel’s suspicious estimates and questionable findings.

“Siegel has found that the majority of gun owners support four laws shown to be effective: universal background checks, prohibitions for those convicted of violent misdemeanors, permits for concealed carry, and permits for gun purchases and possession,” the story claims. “He estimates that if all four were implemented, firearm homicides would decline by 35 percent.”

Sometimes, 97Percent’s message is lost because their social media posts are self-contradictory.

“No one’s Second Amendment right should be capriciously taken away without their day in court, particularly veterans who have honorably served our country,” the group posted on X at 10:04 a.m., March 13, 2024.

“Putting law enforcement in the best position possible to address mass shootings before they happen is in the best interests of both gun owners and non-gun owners. Pass red flag laws now,” the group posted on X the next day.

Anti-gun board

According to the nonprofit tracker GuideStar, 97Percent has $250,790 in assets, and their most recent IRS form 990 shows then-executive director Matthew Littman, whom Troye replaced, worked 15 hours per week and did not receive an annual salary. In fact, neither Staci Miller, the group’s director, president and CEO nor Richard Aborn, one of the group’s directors, received any compensation. Miller, according to the 2022 form, worked 15 hours per week. Aborn worked .75 hours per week. According to a more recent Washington Post story, the group now has seven fulltime employees.

Aborn still serves on 97Percent’s board, and is a good example of how the nonprofit’s leadership is radically anti-gun. He served as president of the Center to Prevent Handgun Violence and as president of Handgun Control Inc., which became the Brady Campaign. According to Aborn’s bio, “He was a principal strategist behind the passing of the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act as well as the Federal Assault Weapons ban.”

Board members John Goodwin and Abra Belke were both federal lobbyists for the National Rifle Association, until they broke with the NRA. Goodwin has since become an anti-gun resource for the legacy media.

“A big, big part of the gun-rights movement is: ‘If we give them an inch, they take a thousand miles,’” Goodwin said during a 2022 interview. “I don’t buy that anymore.”

Oliva at NSSF says two board members, Congressmen Steve Israel and Seth Moulton, “never stood to protect the Second Amendment rights. Just the opposite.”

“They backed every gun control bill they could. They turned a right into a partisan issue. They earned the endorsement of Michael Bloomberg’s gun control group Everytown for Gun Control, as did former Congressman Carlos Curbelo,” Oliva said. “Anyone who has done even the most rudimentary digging into this group will immediately see that despite their claim of representing gun owners, they represent the radical gun control wing of today’s political electorate.”

Board member Ketch Secor, founder of the Old Crow Medicine Show band, published a guest essay in The New York Times titled: “Country Music Can Lead America Out of its Obsession with Guns.”

“It’s time for country music makers to use their platforms to speak candidly to their conservative audiences,” Secor wrote. “Our outrage needs to move from the green room to center stage.”

Board member Michael Wear served in the White House during President Barack Obama’s first term and was in charge of religious outreach for Obama’s re-election campaign.

In 2021, after the Texas House passed a constitutional carry bill, board member Mark McKinnon took to Twitter.

“It’s not The Onion. The Texas House of Representatives just passed a legislation that allows people to carry guns WITHOUT a permit/license. So, they think it should be easier to carry a gun and harder to vote,” McKinnon posted.

In 2022, McKinnon and Alborn co-authored a guest column that was published by The Hill, which preposterously claimed gun owners want more gun control.

“Gun owners need to know other gun owners are united in wanting stricter gun laws. Armed with this knowledge, it will ease the pathway to gun owners speaking out and taking control of their own narrative. And it is the responsibility of gun safety organizations to make gun owners feel supported, not marginalized, in advocating for change. Gun owners must be brought into the gun safety conversation, not left out,” the duo wrote.


97Percent leadership likely will never have that conversation with gun owners they claim they want as long as the group advocates for “assault weapon” bans, magazine bans, bump-stock bans, expanded red-flag laws, mandatory permits to purchase, carry and possess firearms, mandatory storage laws, expanded background checks, and a biometric handgun holster that can only be unlocked by the owner’s fingerprint.

In that respect, 97Percent is no better than Brady, Giffords or Everytown, and they’re not nearly as well funded.

Over the years, Second Amendment Foundation founder and executive vice president Alan M. Gottlieb has seen anti-gun groups come and go. He predicts most Americans will recognize 97Percent’s true intentions regardless of how slick they’re packaged.

Said Gottlieb: “Anti-gun groups like 97Percent claim to include gun owners solely to bolster their own credibility. Their stated goals are mandatory background checks, increased red-flag laws, bans of popular semi-automatic firearms and standard-capacity magazines, and permits to purchase, carry and even possess a firearm. These are repugnant to every gun owner I know and clearly infringe upon the Second Amendment, which 97Percent falsely claims to support. American gun owners are an extremely savvy bunch. They will see right through this obvious attempt at gaslighting.”



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