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Dave McCormick (left) and Mehmet Oz are two of the Republicans running in 2022 for an open U.S. Senate seat in Pennsylvania. (AP) Dave McCormick (left) and Mehmet Oz are two of the Republicans running in 2022 for an open U.S. Senate seat in Pennsylvania. (AP)

Dave McCormick (left) and Mehmet Oz are two of the Republicans running in 2022 for an open U.S. Senate seat in Pennsylvania. (AP)

Tom Kertscher
By Tom Kertscher April 15, 2022

In Pa. Senate run, Dr. Oz casts self as pro-Second Amendment, but he has backed gun-control measures

If Your Time is short

  • Oz campaigns as a gun owner who supports the Second Amendment, but for years he supported gun-control measures.

In his run for U.S. Senate in Pennsylvania, Dr. Mehmet Oz is branding himself as a protector of rights for gun owners. 

So it might be surprising to GOP voters to see claims from his  chief rival for the Republican nomination that say he’s made numerous statements in support of gun-control measures.

Former hedge fund CEO Dave McCormick used a  15-second video ad on Facebook and Instagram to describe Oz, the physician and TV personality who is endorsed by former President Donald Trump. 

"Mehmet Oz is anti-gun," the ad claims in text that appears over a grainy black-and-white image of Oz while dramatic music plays and other claims flash across the screen. "Oz called for a New Zealand-style gun ban," says one. "Oz: Americans should have ‘less access to guns.’" 

Did Oz really say those things?

A review of statements he has made on television, in social media posts and in bylined columns show Oz for years promoted these and other ideas supported by advocates of gun control measures. His position on these matters appears to have changed since he announced his plan to run for public office.

The "Second Amendment" section of Oz’s campaign website says: 

"As a proud gun-owner, Dr. Oz is a firm believer in the Second Amendment and our constitutional right to bear arms for protection. He opposes anti-gun measures like red flag laws and liberal gun grabs … every law-abiding American citizen should be allowed to buy the gun of their desire."

But in nationally circulated newspaper columns that Oz co-wrote with Dr. Michael Roizen — and that Oz has recently distanced himself from — Oz frequently endorsed gun control stances.

Oz’s campaign did not reply to our requests for information. 

U.S. assault rifle ban and New Zealand

In 2019, Oz indicated support for a gun ban like one in New Zealand. That year, New Zealand banned most semiautomatic weapons following a terror attack on two mosques that left 51 people dead. 

Oz was the lead author of a question-and-answer syndicated newspaper column that he wrote with Roizen. In a 2019 column that called gun deaths in America a public health crisis, the doctors suggested the United States reinstitute a ban on assault rifles. 

The column ended by saying the New Zealand parliament passed legislation banning most semi-automatic and military-style weapons with a hope "to get as many of these assault weapons off their streets ASAP. Can we?"

‘Less access’ part of the claim misleading

Oz once said Americans should have less access to guns — but he did not state support for any specific gun control measure.

In a 2013 column about America’s overall health ranking, Oz and his colleague cited a number of health problems and noted the number of gun-related homicides in the U.S. They offered dietary tips and other health suggestions.

"And let's add in more access to health care; less access to guns that aren't designed for hunting; more access to good nutrition" and other steps, they wrote. They did not elaborate on how to achieve "less access" to guns.

Statements backing gun-control measures

McCormick’s campaign cited to us additional Oz statements on gun control that are not noted in the ad.

Background checks: In a 2014 column, Oz and his colleague  wrote that "until the government embraces gun-safety measures — polls show that 79% of the population favors universal background checks for gun buyers — it's every doctor's responsibility to their patients and your responsibility to yourself and your family to reduce gun violence."

Waiting periods: In a 2017 column, the doctors wrote: "One regulation that seems to be very effective in reducing gun violence, and shouldn’t bother anyone, is to institute waiting periods in every state. … Just think how many lives strict background checks and tighter automatic weapon, magazine and ammunition regulations could save without impinging on anyone’s rights."

Stricter regulation: Oz and his colleague expressed support in a 2018 column for "responsible gun laws" to reduce gun deaths among children. They said there are twice as many pediatric firearm deaths in states with the "most lenient" gun regulations than in states with the strictest regulations. The column also urged readers who support stricter regulations to write to their representatives.  

Study gun violence: Also in 2018, Oz tweeted in reference to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: "Right now, the @CDCgov is NOT funded to study gun violence in this country. It’s time we treat shootings as a public health problem. Contact your congressperson today to demand they fund the #CDC to comprehensively study gun violence. #EndTheBan."

Red-flag laws: On his TV show in 2019, Oz said red flag laws, which provide a mechanism to take guns from people exhibiting dangerous behavior before they harm themselves or others, "may help protect you and your family." At a campaign stop in February 2022, Oz said he believes in some red flag-style laws to evaluate whether people with certain mental health issues should be allowed to be armed, but that he is against any national red-flag registry, according to a local news report of the event. 

What Oz has said about the columns

On March 18, 2022, in a story about the columns supporting gun-control measures, Fox News reported that Oz disavowed the columns.

In an interview, Roizen told PolitiFact that for most of the more than 15 years that he and Oz co-authored the column, he and Oz typically wrote the columns separately, without consulting one another. Roizen said he believes he wrote all of the columns that supported gun-control measures. 

"I believe he believed in people having guns, the Second Amendment," Roizen said, but that he didn’t know Oz’s opinions on any gun-control measures. He said Oz never expressed any objections to him about the columns that supported gun control.

"I don’t remember any conversation about it at all," Roizen said.

Contest could help decide Senate control

The Pennsylvania race is for the seat held by Republican Pat Toomey, who was first elected in 2010 and decided not to seek re-election. 

Besides McCormick and Oz, the major Republican candidates are commentator Kathy Barnette, real estate developer Jeff Bartos, Philadelphia attorney George Bochetto and Carla Sands, who served as Trump's ambassador to Denmark. 

The Real Clear Politics polling average as of April 12 shows McCormick in the lead by 2.6 percentage points over Oz. An Emerson College Polling/The Hill poll of very likely Republican Pennsylvania voters conducted April 3-4 showed McCormick in the lead, by 18% to 17%, over Oz.

Trump endorsed Oz on April 9, five days after McCormick’s ad started running. Trump said Oz "will always fight for and support our under-siege Second Amendment."

The leading Democratic candidates are Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, state Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta and U.S. Rep.  Conor Lamb.

The primaries are May 17.

Overall, the Nov. 8 general election race is rated as a toss-up and as "tilts Republican." The outcome could help determine which party controls the Senate, now split 50-50.

Our ruling

McCormick said in an ad that Oz "called for a New Zealand-style gun ban" and said "Americans should have less access to guns."

Oz currently is running as a pro-gun candidate, but that is in contrast with statements he made for years in support of gun-control measures such as an assault rifle ban and measures to restrict gun purchases, such as background checks and waiting periods. 

Oz’s statement about less access to guns was vague; it did not call for governmental restrictions on gun access.

We rate the statement Mostly True.

RELATED: The race for the Pennsylvania U.S. Senate seat: A guide

RELATED: Pennsylvania fact-checks

Our Sources

Meta, Dave McCormick "Mehmet Oz wants to take away your guns" ad, started running April 4 to April 12, 2022

Email, Dave McCormick campaign spokesperson Jess Szymanski, April 11, 2022, "Senate Candidate Mehmet Oz Stops In Lower Bucks County," Feb. 21, 2022

Washington Examiner, "Dr. Oz: Q&A: Why is America's health ranking so poor?", Feb. 18, 2018

Athens Banner-Herald, "Drs. Oz & Roizen: Contrast therapy helpful for aches and sprains," Nov. 13, 2017

Interview, Dr. Michael Roizen, April 13, 2022

Ocala Star Banner, "Why gun violence is a public health issue," July 7, 2014, "Ads Attacking Dr. Oz," March 17, 2022

Texarkana Gazette, "Taking a shot at a safer world," July 13, 2019

Norwalk Hour, "Steps can reduce pediatric gun deaths," Dec. 8, 2018

Fox News, "Dr. Oz's past gun control positions raise eyebrows, but he says he strongly supports Second Amendment," Dec. 7, 2021 

Fox News, "Dr. Oz denies writing gun control advocacy columns, business partner claims authorship," March 18, 2022

Twitter, Mehmet Oz tweet, March 14, 2018, "Ad Watch: Fact-checking ad attacking Republican US Senate candidate Dr. Mehmet Oz," March 3, 2022, "Second Amendment," accessed April 11, 2022

Browse the Truth-O-Meter

More by Tom Kertscher

In Pa. Senate run, Dr. Oz casts self as pro-Second Amendment, but he has backed gun-control measures

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