Remember the fallout that former president Barack Obama faced when he referred to Pennsylvanians as people who cling to their guns and religion?
“They get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.”
The 2022 primary season in the Keystone State reminded them that not only do the candidates own guns, but they know how to use them. And this has been especially true among the Republican statewide candidates – Mehmet Oz, Dave McCormick and Doug Mastriano.
According to media tracking firm AdImpact, over 100 television ads used by GOP candidates or PACs nationwide have used guns as talking points. They are being brandished. They are being fired. The candidates praise the Second Amendment, oppose so-called “red flag” laws or just refer to themselves as “pro-gun.”
“Red flag” laws allow people, typically family or law enforcement, to petition a judge to remove guns from individuals who they fear pose a threat to themselves or others.
“You basically have Republican primary candidates trying to explain to Republican primary voters that they are going to be on their side when it comes to the cultural cold civil war that’s being fought right now,” said Robert Blizzard, a Republican strategist, to The New York Times.
On the flip side, AdImpact’s data shows approximately 20 TV spots from Democratic candidates across the country that talk about guns, gun control or combating gun violence.
The disparity highlights how much Republicans stand to gain — and how little Democrats can benefit — from campaigning on guns in primaries.
In Pennsylvania, there was nearly $64 million spent on broadcast and cable television advertising alone. Six different media markets saw more than $2 million allocated and Harrisburg – the 43rd largest market in the country – was 10th in national spending in early April.
While not every ad buy was devoted to guns and the Second Amendment, more than a couple were and came from the Republican candidates for Senate, including a pair that were released three weeks ago.
“My father taught me how to handle my first gun. I taught my son Oliver how to do the same. I’ve been shooting and hunting my whole life. So when people say i won’t support guns, they’re dead wrong. Our second amendment is not just about hunting. It’s about our constitutional right to protect ourselves from intruders or an overly intrusive government. So as your next U.S. senator I will fight for our constitutional rights.”
“As a teenager, I hunted with a 30.06. At West Point, we marched with this Springfield. And then in Iraq, we used these. I’m Dave McCormick and I approve this message to protect the Second Amendment because that’s what guarantees the rest of them.”
Democratic candidate for the U.S. Senate – John Fetterman – posted this video from his unsuccessful 2016 campaign for the same office.
“I’m also a gun owner. I don’t understand why we in this country don’t advocate for sensible gun control. All of us should agree that we want to make sure that weapons like this stay out of the hands of the people that could use them to hurt people.”
And in the Pennsylvania race for governor, Republican candidate Doug Mastriano made his case with an ad from the Gun Owners of America, offering its solid endorsement.
“The Gun Owners of America has been working with Senator Mastriano for two years on pro-gun legislation in the Pennsylvania legislature. He is one of the champions of the Second Amendment.”
The Second Amendment. “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”
As state and national debate continues to heat up in the aftermath of the Uvalde tragedy, it is clear that the Second Amendment will take center stage in the days, weeks and months leading up to the November general election in Pennsylvania.