Unplanned comment leads Stanford doctor to champion gun violence prevention

For DEAN WINSLOW, professor of medicine, one comment last fall served as an ending and a beginning.

Dean Winslow
Dean Winslow

At his confirmation hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee, two days after the mass shooting at a church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, the retired Air Force colonel opined that it was “insane … that in the United States of America a civilian can go out and buy a semiautomatic weapon like an AR-15.”

He quickly fell out of contention for the post of assistant secretary of defense for health affairs. But the reaction from friends and colleagues in the medical community — and his own subsequent reflection — spurred Winslow to do something he’d never before considered: spearhead a nonprofit organization for health care professionals working to address the dangers of gun violence.

The group is called Scrubs Addressing the Firearms Epidemic, or SAFE, and aims to unify voices of physicians, nurses and medical students. The mission is to reduce gun violence by promoting firearm safety education for caregivers, supporting research and advocating for evidence-based policies that reflect responsible gun ownership and respect the Second Amendment.

The organization’s first national event, Stand SAFE, will take place on Monday, Sept. 17. Medical students and health professionals are encouraged to wear scrubs customized with the SAFE logo, convene briefly in a show of solidarity at noon local time, and hold gun violence-related education activities.

Stanford’s SAFE rally will be held at noon on the Dean’s Lawn, next to the Clark Center, followed by an educational event at 12:30 p.m. at the Li Ka Shing Center for Learning and Knowledge. Speakers include Winslow; John Donahue, professor of law; and David Spain, professor of surgery.

Read more on the Stanford Medicine news website.