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Gun-safety group launches $2.1 million ad campaign criticizing Oz, Mastriano over gun laws

The TV and digital ads will launch in Philadelphia as Mehmet Oz, the GOP candidate for U.S. Senate, has made a major push to try to woo voters in the city and its suburbs.

Republican U.S. Senate candidate Mehmet Oz talks to the media after accepting an endorsement from the Fraternal Order of Police on Sept. 26 at the FOP headquarters in Philadelphia.
Republican U.S. Senate candidate Mehmet Oz talks to the media after accepting an endorsement from the Fraternal Order of Police on Sept. 26 at the FOP headquarters in Philadelphia.Read moreJose F. Moreno / Staff Photographer

Gun-safety advocates are launching a $2.1 million ad campaign in Pennsylvania, hammering Republicans Mehmet Oz and Doug Mastriano for their opposition to tougher gun laws, including universal background checks.

The TV and digital ads will launch in the Philadelphia market Wednesday and come as Oz, the GOP candidate for U.S. Senate, has made a major push to try to woo voters in the city and its suburbs.

While Oz has slammed Democratic Senate nominee John Fetterman as soft on crime, the first ad in the Everytown campaign argues that Oz’s views make women less safe by potentially making it easier for domestic abusers to obtain guns.

“When an abuser’s armed, women are five times more likely to be killed,” says the ad, reported first by The Inquirer. “Mehmet Oz would make it easier for domestic abusers to get guns, even opposing background checks on all gun sales.”

In a seeming answer to Oz’s attacks on Fetterman, the spot concludes: “Mehmet Oz won’t keep us safe.”

» READ MORE: Focusing on crime, Republicans think they’ve finally put John Fetterman on the defensive

Everytown plans to spend $1 million airing that ad in the Philadelphia market alone.

Other forthcoming ads are expected to target other Pennsylvania media markets and also criticize Mastriano, the GOP candidate for governor.

“The overwhelming majority of Pennsylvania voters are looking for candidates who will stand up for public safety and fight for common-sense gun safety laws,” said a statement from John Feinblatt, president of Everytown for Gun Safety. “Everytown’s investment will ensure Pennsylvania voters know the truth: by standing in the way of gun violence prevention laws, extremists Mehmet Oz and Doug Mastriano are a threat to the safety of our families and communities.”

Oz’s campaign responded by pointing to a 2013 incident in which Fetterman grabbed his shotgun and chased down a Black jogger after hearing what Fetterman has said were gunshots.

“Dr. Oz doesn’t need lectures on guns from the guy who pulled a shotgun on an unarmed Black jogger,” said Oz spokesperson Brittany Yanick. She added that Fetterman’s support for clemency for people who have served long prison terms and past statements supporting decriminalizing all drugs are “what will make people less safe.”

(Fetterman, through a spokesperson, recently narrowed his position on drugs, saying he doesn’t support decriminalizing “hard drugs.”)

Oz’s campaign continued to refuse to answer whether Oz would have supported the bipartisan gun bill signed by President Joe Biden over the summer, which included incentives for states to impose red-flag laws. The Inquirer has asked about the issue multiple times. The Republican that Oz is running to replace, Sen. Pat Toomey, is one of the few Republicans who has supported some tougher laws, including expanding background checks and the bipartisan bill.

Everytown endorsed Toomey in 2016, a key selling point he used as he tried to appeal to suburban swing voters, much as Oz is attempting now.

The ads come as both parties are ramping up spending in the critical Senate race, with outside groups pouring millions into a race that could decide control of the Senate.

Everytown, which formed in the aftermath of the 2012 Sandy Hook school shooting in Newtown, Conn., also released polling showing broad support for tougher gun laws, including expanded background checks and the bipartisan gun bill.

Oz and the GOP have relentlessly attacked Fetterman over crime.

Democrats argue that Oz’s refusal to support tougher gun laws, amid a crisis of shootings in Philadelphia, shows that he doesn’t actually support solutions to crime, and only wants to use the issue for political gain.

» READ MORE: Is Mehmet Oz really a conservative? We looked at his record on guns, abortion, and fracking

Oz during the GOP primary said he would oppose red-flag laws, universal background checks, and other gun proposals, such as banning assault-style weapons. He took those stands despite previously, as a TV host, hosting gun-control advocates for sympathetic interviews on his show, and having the lead on newspaper columns advocating for those very same laws.

His campaign has previously said that the advice columns (which Oz had a contract for through January) were in recent years written by Oz’s coauthor and that there were “instances” in which the two disagreed. The campaign didn’t specify which instances.

On broader questions about crime, Oz has offered few specifics about what he would do, beyond offering support for police.

The Everytown ad launch comes as the Republican Jewish Coalition launched a $1.5 million ad buy of its own in Philadelphia, trying to reach Black voters over the incident involving Fetterman and the jogger. Fetterman, who was then the mayor of Braddock, has said he heard gunshots and made a split-second decision to chase the man, though the man was unarmed and not involved in any incident that day.

» READ MORE: Everything to know about the 2013 John Fetterman jogger incident

The coalition is the second group to target Philadelphia’s Black voters with those ads, aiming to peel away a key part of the Democratic coalition. An Oz-aligned super PAC, American Leadership Action, ran similar ads in early September.