© 2024 Texas Public Radio
Real. Reliable. Texas Public Radio.
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

San Antonio Surgeon Among NRA Members Who Support New Gun Safety Measures

Fabrice Florin
WikiCommons| http://bit.ly/2uwI0ma
A vigil in Parkland, FL, after a gunman killed 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in February.

UT Health San Antonio surgeon Donald Jenkins supports gun rights. The San Antonio surgeon is among the gun-owning doctors who has signed on to a new set of gun-safety recommendations.

"I am a life member of the (National Rifle Association). I am a firearm owner. I spent 24 years in the military," he said.

Jenkins said he thinks something needs to be done about gun violence in the U.S.


Credit Contributed photo / UT Health San Antonio
UT Health San Antonio
Dr. Donald Jenkins is a member of the NRA, a gun owner, a veteran, and a trauma surgeon. He is among a group of 22 mostly gun-owning surgeons who have written a paper they hope will start a conversation that will lead to improved gun safety and reduced gun violence.

"We see the end product of that violence on a daily basis, and it is our mission to prevent injuries from happening to people who then become our patients," Jenkins said.

So he and 21 other members of the American College of SurgeonsCommittee on Trauma — 18 of whom are gun owners — have issued recommendations they hope might curb gun violence.

Among their recommendations is that the federal government classify mass shootings as a federal crime.

"This is terrorism because it exists to terrorize people when these mass shootings occur. Period. The end," Jenkins said.

If potential mass shooters are thought of as potential terrorists, Jenkins said you could bring all of the resources of the federal government to help prevent mass shootings.

"In almost every one of these instances, after the fact, people come forward and say 'Oh, we knew it was only a matter of time. He's been posting things on these social media platforms that caused us to believe he was going to harm someone,' " Jenkins said.

Jenkins says gun violence, including homicide, suicide, and accidental shootings, should be treated as a public health issue, and doctors should be at the table when trying to craft solutions.

"We have long been advocates for injury prevention — bicycle safety, automobile safety, trying to keep people from driving under the influence of intoxicating agents — and this is just one more aspect as we see it," Jenkins said.

He doesn't think doctors should be alone at that table, however. They should be joined by mental health professionals, the NRA, and even gun manufacturers, he said.

"If you're going to work on preventing firearm injury, violence, and death, you're going to work with the people who are experts in that industry, and we have to bring them together if we're going to make any inroads in this whatsoever," Jenkins said.

While Jenkins thinks it's important that gun rights are preserved, he also thinks the price American families are paying under the status quo is too high.

"The right to life is just as important as the right to own a firearm, and we have to treat it as such," he said.

Bonnie Petrie can be reached at bonnie@tpr.orgor on Twitter @kbonniepetrie