Dr. Dean Winslow, whom President Trump nominated to the Defense Department’s top health services post, told Senators on Tuesday that he thought it was “insane” civilians could buy semiautomatic assault weapons — like the one used to kill 26 people in Texas on Sunday.
“I’d also like to, I may get in trouble with other members of the committee, just say how insane it is that in the United States of America a civilian can go out and buy a semiautomatic assault rifle like an AR-15,” Winslow told the Senate Armed Services Committee during his confirmation hearing.
Winslow’s remark, which obviously puts him at odds with Trump’s “arm everyone” stance, came after Sen. Jeanne Shaheen asked whether he thought Devin Kelley, the Texas church shooter, should have been dishonorably discharged from the Air Force. Kelley, who court-martialed and convicted of two domestic assault charges in 2012, received a bad conduct discharge.
Shaheen contended that Kelley’s conviction should have warranted a dishonorable discharge given his extremely violent crimes of assaulting his spouse and child — Winslow agreed, but said it was up to the Judge Advocate Generals Corps to decide what type of discharge a military member should receive.
Winslow was right about getting in trouble with other members of the committee. Before Winslow was able to conclude his train of thought, a clearly irked Sen. John McCain interjected to say that commenting on the legality of assault weapons “wasn’t in [his] area of responsibility or expertise.”
As Vox pointed out, Winslow’s opinion likely stems from his medical background. Given the number of Americans who have died because a civilian was able to purchase an assault-style weapon, it’s certainly not an overstatement to say that their legality is “insane.” Gun control is a public health issue. Winslow’s opinion, albeit put in slightly different terms, is shared by the American College of Physicians.
You can watch Winslow’s exchange with Shaheen here — his specific comments on assault rifles start around the 1:18:00 minute mark.