Mehmet Oz claims to be tough on crime while opposing steps to actually address it

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The Pennsylvania Republican Senate nominee opposed gun safety legislation and federal funding that helped local law enforcement.

Pennsylvania Republican Senate nominee Mehmet Oz has spent much of his campaign claiming to be tougher on crime than his Democratic opponent, Lt. Gov. John Fetterman. But he has offered almost no specifics on his stance and has opposed legislation to actually address the problem.

"Enough is enough. Our streets and communities are LESS safe as a result of John Fetterman's dangerous soft-on-crime policies," the former television host tweeted Wednesday.

The Daily Beast reported on Oct. 7 that a Cook Political Report analysis found 71% of the ads being run by Oz and his GOP allies since August have centered around public safety, including an ad featuring Oz claiming, "Crime is a bigger problem than ever in Pennsylvania," a claim that's provably false. He has also vowed to "always support law enforcement" and touted an endorsement from former President Donald Trump celebrating him for being "very strong on Crime."

"President Trump knew PA needed a tough-on-crime conservative to turn our cities around," Oz wrote in May. "That's why he endorsed me — a principled, America-First conservative for #PASen."

Oz attacked Fetterman in September for employing two campaign staffers who had their sentences commuted in 2021 for crimes they and advocates say they did not commit.

But Oz has offered few substantive prescriptions for how to improve public safety. His campaign issues page features just one paragraph noting his "strong" support for law enforcement, his opposition to defunding the police, and his unwillingness to make "'anti-law' proposals like 'cashless bail.'" Several media outlets have noted that he has declined to provide specific policy proposals beyond general support for vague ideas such as "community policing."

He has, however, been clear that he opposes virtually any regulations to reduce crimes committed using guns, including "red flag" extreme risk protection orders and background checks for gun sales.

"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," Oz wrote in an April column. "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."

Data has shown "red flag" laws have been effective at reducing mass shootings and suicide deaths. A 2019 study found states with universal background checks had 14.9% fewer overall homicides than states without them between 1991 and 2016.

Rather than keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people, Oz has spread baseless theories that increased gun violence is really caused by cannabis legalization and COVID-19 school closures.

Oz also opposed the 2021 American Rescue Plan, which provided $125 billion to enable schools to more safely return to in-person instruction and $350 billion in direct aid to state, local, tribal, and territorial governments.

"Democrats passed the American Rescue Plan — with John Fetterman's support — as COVID relief, but have completely mismanaged the use of the billions of taxpayer dollars," he complained in September.

Much of the money has gone directly to fund state and local programs to prevent violence and to aid law enforcement programs nationally and in Pennsylvania.

An Oct. 5 report by WITF radio in Harrisburg noted that many localities in the state were using their share of the money to keep communities safe. This included $2.9 million to groups in Reading involved in curbing violence and $2 million toward similar efforts in York.

Mahoning Township reportedly invested some of its funds on renovations for its police department.

Oz has also criticized federal law enforcement officials for enforcing the law when Republicans are under investigation for possible crimes.

After FBI agents raided Trump's Mar-a-Lago resort to reclaim classified government documents in August, Oz tweeted: "America is bitterly divided, & what Pres. Biden's FBI and DOJ did last night will only make things worse. Americans have every right to be upset & demand answers on why this raid happened in the most aggressive action taken against a former president ever in our nation's history."

Outside fact checkers have debunked many of Oz's attacks on Fetterman's positions on crime, including false claims that the Democrat wants to "do away with life sentences for murderers" and "wants to release 1/3 of the prison population."

During his tenure as mayor of Braddock, Pennsylvania, Fetterman prioritized violence reduction. He touts the fact that the city had zero gun deaths over a 5 1/2-year period.

On his campaign website's "Taking on Crime" issue page, Fetterman promises to support law enforcement while holding it accountable.

Fetterman also says he will support "common sense gun safety measures," writing, "We need universal background checks, red flag laws, and more proactive efforts to get illegal guns off our streets. This is personal for me, and every time we delay real action, we're only counting down the hours until the next tragedy. Enough."

An Oz campaign spokesperson did not immediately respond to an inquiry for this story.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.