We’re less than a month away from the GOP primary in Tennessee, and it’s worth keeping an eye on the race for the U.S. Senate seat currently held by Lamar Alexander, who’s retiring this year. Because this is an open seat, there are a whopping 15 candidates running in the Republican primary, but most of the attention so far has focused on Bill Hagerty, a Tennessee businessman who was appointed U.S. Ambassador to Japan by President Donald Trump.
Hagerty has the endorsement of the president and much of the GOP establishment in Tennessee, but Dr. Manny Sethi, an orthopedic trauma surgeon from Nashville has been running a strong campaign as well, and his campaign says internal polling shows the race between the two within the margin of error.
The Independent-Herald recently ran a lengthy profile of Sethi, delving into his childhood as the son of Indian immigrants in rural Tennessee, his recent work fighting COVID-19 at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, and his support for the Second Amendment.
On the 2nd Amendment, he said he has a carry permit and “nobody will stand up for the 2nd Amendment more than I will,” adding that so-called “red flag laws” are unconstitutional and should be repealed.
On Sethi’s campaign website, the candidate adds that “our Constitutional Rights are not up for debate,” and once again objects to red flag laws being pushed at the state and federal level. During a townhall in Tennessee last year, Sethi also spoke out about his opposition to any new gun control laws.
“(Changing) the way we do background checks, these crazy red flag laws — I don’t think that’s going to change anything,” he said. “The problem is not our guns. The problem is our phones.”
He said smartphones cause isolation, which can lead to mental health issues. He suggests, instead of gun control, placing an emphasis on mentoring programs in schools and making children feel loved.
Sethi has long believed that the answer to addressing youth violence involves helping the individuals in need, rather than simply slapping another law on the books. Back in 2013, a conflict resolution program that Sethi and a Vanderbilt colleague developed was rolled out in a central Tennessee middle school.
The program was pretty simple, yet according to Sethi, it was also incredibly effective at reducing both violent behavior and beliefs.
In the study, 122 students completed the conflict resolution program and described their behavior and experiences with violence in a pre-test/post-test self-rate questionnaire. Results showed a significant decrease in violent behavior and an increase in students’ competencies to deal with violence.
The pilot’s pre- and post-test scores showed that students who were “sometimes” getting hit or pushed by others, went to “almost never” getting hit or pushed; students also reported after the program that they “never” got beaten up or threatened with a gun by others, even as a joke, which was a decrease in victimization.
It would be pretty difficult for gun control groups to portray Sethi as an uncaring “tool of the gun lobby” when his job involves helping to heal those injured by violent individuals with firearms, though I’m sure they’ll try if Sethi wins the Republican primary on August 6th.
I reached out to Sethi’s campaign earlier today, because I was curious to get his position on a couple of other hot button gun control issues like banning so-called assault weapons and “large capacity” magazines, which aren’t mentioned on his campaign website. Within an hour or so, I had the following statement by Dr. Sethi in my inbox.
“I will always stand up for our Second Amendment rights, even against moderate Republicans who compromise on this issue.
Any law or policy that inhibits any law-abiding citizen from owning or carrying guns in any way is unconstitutional. This includes laws limiting or banning so-called “assault weapons” and “large capacity” magazines. A few years ago, I had a death threat made against me and my family. I went out, got my concealed carry and immediately did extra training with my 9mm. That’s what the Second Amendment is about – ensuring we’re able to protect ourselves and our families.”
Amen to that. Hopefully Dr. Sethi will be joining me on an upcoming edition of Bearing Arms’ Cam & Co, and I’m looking forward to a deeper discussion about his views on the Second Amendment and our fundamental right of self-defense.