(The Center Square) – Pennsylvania’s U.S. Senate race has shaped up along the usual political division on guns, though the candidates’ pasts cause issues for their current stances.
Gun policy has not been the center of attention for Democrat John Fetterman and Republican Mehmet Oz. Instead, any debate on guns has been overshadowed by education, crime, inflation and taxes, and abortion.
However, Oz’s previous advocacy for some gun restrictions complicates his campaign. Fetterman is a self-professed gun owner who favors some restrictions, though his past includes an incident where he held a Black man at gunpoint whom Fetterman mistook for a criminal.
Oz has a history of promoting “red flag” laws which require gun owners to forfeit their guns without a criminal conviction or proof of being a threat to others, as well as publicizing the American College of Physicians’ call for a semi-automatic weapons ban. He also advocated for the CDC to “comprehensively study gun violence.”
During his Senate campaign, Oz’s tone has changed. An April campaign ad shows Oz target shooting as he talks about gun rights.
“When people say I won’t support guns, they’re dead wrong,” Oz said. “Our 2nd Amendment is not just about hunting. It’s about our constitutional right to protect ourselves from intruders — or an overly intrusive government.”
“He opposes anti-gun measures like red flag laws and liberal gun grabs,” Oz’s campaign site noted. He also bragged about the NRA awarding him an “AQ” rating, the highest a candidate without a voting record could receive.
Fetterman’s NRA rating, despite his relative moderation compared to other Democratic politicians, is an F.
“Common sense gun laws are called that for a REASON. Enough is enough,” Fetterman tweeted in May. “Democrats need to be ruthless + united NOW. Scrap the filibuster + pass common sense gun control supported by the majority of Americans.”
Fetterman’s has tried to position his stance on guns where most Americans stand.
“I’m a gun owner, and I’ve been around guns my whole life,” his campaign site states. “I want what an overwhelming majority of Americans, including the majority of gun owners, want – which is common sense gun safety measures. We need universal background checks, red flag laws, and more proactive efforts to get illegal guns off our streets.”
Fetterman has been endorsed by Giffords, a pro-gun control group.
He also has been criticized for brandishing a shotgun at a Black jogger in 2013 when he blamed the man for sounds Fetterman thought were gunshots. Some have argued the incident hurt Fetterman’s support among Black voters.