Dr. Oz pledges support for Second Amendment in new campaign ad

Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP

If Dr. Mehmet Oz were a generic Republican running for office, I’d look at this campaign add and nod along in approval.

But Dr. Oz isn’t a generic Republican. He’s a guy with a long history of either endorsing gun control laws on his long-running television show or endorsing them in the syndicated newspaper column that ran under his byline for years. So when Oz says in his new campaign ad that the “Second Amendment isn’t just about hunting, it’s about our constitutional right to protect ourselves from intruders or an overly intrusive government” while slamming a magazine into an AR-15 rifle, I can’t help but wonder what changed in the past couple of years. This is the same guy, after all, who called for a “New Zealand-style ban” on modern sporting rifles, or at least he allowed a column running under his name to be published with that call to (dis)arm.

Oz has blamed the pro-gun control columns on his co-writer, but Oz never objected publicly or disavowed those columns until after he announced his run for the U.S. Senate seat in Pennsylvania.

Now, I know that people can change their minds on an issue. But Oz isn’t copping to a change in opinion in his ad. Far from it. From the opening line “my father taught me how to handle my first gun” to the closing pledge to “fight for our constitutional rights,” Oz makes it sound like he’s always been a Second Amendment stalwart when that’s clearly not the case.

If Oz had presented himself as a recent convert to Second Amendment activism, it would have been at least somewhat believable, at least if he could explain what led to his change of heart. But he can’t tacitly endorse a ban on AR-15s in 2019 and then hold one in a campaign ad in 2022 and expect gun owners to just nod along approvingly with his pro-Second Amendment rhetoric.

Oz’s flip-flops on the right to keep and bear arms also include his previous endorsement of “red flag” laws in 2019, which has now transformed into denouncing them today; again without offering a rationale or an explanation for his 180-degree change.

I don’t see this ad as a sign of Oz’s respect for 2A voters. Sadly, it looks a lot more like contempt to me. He’s not willing to be honest with us about his past support for gun control laws, so why should we take his current stated support for our right to keep and bear arms seriously?

It doesn’t matter to me who taught Oz how to shoot his first gun. It doesn’t matter to me if he’s been endorsed by Ted Nugent, Donald Trump, or the ghost of John Moses Browning. What matters to me are his words and deeds, and Dr. Mehmet Oz has done far more to advance the cause of gun control than the right to keep and bear arms during his time as a public figure. Slow-motion camera shots of him shooting clays or hitting a steel target with a handgun may look pretty, but the ugly truth is that if Dr. Oz wants to represent Pennsylvania gun owners in the Senate, he should at least be willing to look them in the eye and explain why what he’s now saying on the campaign trail is so diametrically opposed to the gun control proposals he endorsed for years via his television show and his syndicated column.