Meet an anti-gun safety Senate candidate: Mehmet Oz

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As a television host, Mehmet Oz backed gun safety legislation. As Pennsylvania's Republican nominee for the Senate, he has done a total flip-flop.

Longtime New Jersey resident and television personality Mehmet Oz narrowly won the Republican nomination for Senate in Pennsylvania in a June primary. As he has on many other issues, as a Republican candidate, he has abandoned previously held positions on gun legislation and is now promising to oppose any legislative attempt to curb gun violence.

Oz will face Pennsylvania Democratic Lt. Gov. John Fetterman in the general election in November to fill the seat of retiring Republican Sen. Pat Toomey.

Fetterman, a gun owner who says he favors "commonsense gun reform and legislation," told Philadelphia NBC affiliate WCAU-TV: "It's long past time for Congress to act. If I'm your next U.S. Senator, I would support common-sense reform like universal background checks for all gun sales and a ban on military-grade assault weapons and high capacity magazines." In July, Fetterman was included on a list of endorsed "gun safety champions" by the Everytown for Gun Safety Action Fund.

Oz, who since becoming a Senate candidate has flip-flopped on an array of issues, including abortion rights, LGBTQ equality, and hydraulic fracking, once used his platform as host of the syndicated "Doctor Oz Show" to advocate for gun safety efforts, but has since abandoned those positions.

In March 2018, he encouraged his Twitter followers to help repeal National Rifle Association-backed limitations on gun violence research at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

A syndicated column published in 2019 under Oz's name in collaboration with a business partner, Cleveland Clinic doctor Michael Roizen, called for reinstituting a federal ban on assault rifles and requiring that all gun purchasers obtain licenses. Roizen has since insisted that he alone wrote many of the pair's columns, telling Fox News: "When Dr. Oz shifted his focus to launch his show in 2009, I took over the sole management of this daily column."

Oz dedicated a September 2019 segment of his TV show to discussing extreme risk protection orders, also called "red-flag laws," which allow law enforcement to temporarily disarm those who have been adjudicated to be an imminent threat to themselves or others. Calling such laws "another thing that might protect you and your family ... which can [stop] mass shootings, according to new research," Oz said he would hope that a reporting system for such laws would be anonymous: "I would hope that all the states would say, Well, if there's obvious evidence here, pointing us to it, you don't have to get involved personally. Is that what going to eventually happen, hopefully, in most states?"

As recently as February of this year, Oz reportedly told a crowd in Bucks County that he favored some red-flag laws.

Now, however, he says he's focused on "protecting our gun rights."

The Oz campaign did not immediately respond to an inquiry about his positions, but he now says he opposes virtually all gun violence legislation.

No red flag laws or expanded background checks

In a column shared on his website in April, Oz outlines his current stand on gun legislation:

As Pennsylvania's next U.S. Senator, I will oppose red flag laws, universal background checks, and any gun control measure that infringes upon the Second Amendment. I will fight against federal gun control schemes and I will vote for judicial nominees who share my view that the constitutional right to keep and bear arms is both fundamental and inviolable. ... In Washington, I will persevere as a bold voice for the Second Amendment while standing up against federal efforts to take away our constitutional rights, and fighting for freedom alongside gun owners and sportsmen in Pennsylvania.

No other anti-gun violence efforts

In that same column, Oz indicates his opposition to an array of other proposed approaches to curbing gun violence: "Under the guise of safety and security, liberals in Washington continue to push for gun registries, waiting periods, trigger locks, magazine limits, buy backs, and even arbitrary gun bans. If they had it their way, the Left would eliminate our right to self-defense while simultaneously defunding the police. These policies are not just wrong, they're dangerous and they make us less safe."

On June 21, he was asked by Fox Business host Maria Bartiromo whether he would vote for the the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act being considered that day by the Senate.

"I'm glad the Republicans and Democrats are talking to each other. There's nothing written down for me to be able to judge," he answered. "I'm a strong supporter of the Second Amendment. Law-abiding American citizens ought to be able to own a gun, but non-law-abiding Americans should not."

Unlimited and untracked firearm sales

In June, Oz said during an appearance on the right-wing Newsmax network, "I'm strongly in favor of the ability of all law-abiding American citizens to own a gun of their choice." Commenting on an attempt by the Amalgamated Bank of New York to track gun purchases through a new, separate merchant category for those that sell them, Oz said, "The concern I have about these kinds of extracurricular efforts is that they undermine the rule of law. If we decide, as a nation, that we want to go to a particular direction, you don't want to have activists, lawyers working behind the scenes to thwart that desire."

Guns protect citizens from their own government

Oz has said that it is important that Americans be armed to protect themselves from their own elected officials.

"Our Second Amendment is not just about hunting," he says in a campaign ad released in April. "It's about our constitutional right to protect ourselves from intruders, or an overly intrusive government. So as your next U.S. senator, I will fight for our constitutional rights."

"I'm strongly pro-Second Amendment," he told Sean Hannity in a December 2021 radio interview. "I believe that people ought to earn their dignity in life in many ways. One of the ways is, you get a gun. You're allowed to have it. It's in the Constitution for a reason. There is no way around that, and there are many smart things we can do with our guns, like protect ourselves."

Communities should just ignore gun laws

In a February appearance on right-wing talk show host Mark Levin's podcast, Oz praised voters in Blair County, Pennsylvania, for approving a ballot measure declaring the county a "Second Amendment sanctuary" where gun laws would not be enforced: "It provides another layer of protection in case your gun rights get impinged upon. And again, it's the kind of wisdom that I'm seeing in the central part of Pennsylvania, just, God's country, where people know exactly what they wanna do. But these values, they're not listened to in Washington."

Highest rating from the NRA

A post on Oz's website announced on May 2 that the National Rifle Association had given him a rating of "AQ," its highest score for non-incumbent candidates based on their answers to its questions.

"I am proud to receive the highest rating from the NRA for candidates without a voting record," Oz responded. "President Trump endorsed me because I will never back down from the fight to protect our Second Amendment rights. In Washington, I will persevere as a bold voice for the Second Amendment while standing up against federal efforts to take away our constitutional rights, and fighting for freedom alongside gun owners and sportsmen in Pennsylvania."

He has also boasted of endorsements from racist former NRA board member Ted Nugent.

A hunter without a license?

Oz frequently claims that he has been a hunter since childhood.

According to a report published on July 19 on the website Florida Politics, Oz told Fox News he has a "hunting ranch ... in Florida," but he has never actually obtained a hunting license in the state.

John Fetterman tweeted in response, "'I've been shooting and hunting my whole life' - Dr. Oz in one of his TV ads. We totally believed you dude 😅."

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.