DOD Nominee: ‘Insane’ A Civilian Can Buy Semi Automatic Weapons

While President Donald Trump was quick to dismiss calls for gun control after the church shooting massacre in Texas over the weekend, his nominee for assistant secretary of defense for health affairs took a different approach.

During Dr. Dean Winslow’s confirmation hearing with the Senate Armed Services Committee Tuesday, Winslow was asked about the need for a policy change surrounding the reporting of military criminal history and offered that it’s “insane” that the average American could purchase a semi-automatic weapon like the one Devin Kelley allegedly used in the church attack that left 26 dead on Sunday.

Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) asked Winslow if domestic violence — the crime Kelley served a year in military confinement for — should have a zero tolerance police within the military, synonymous with the punishment for sexual assault. Winslow said it was a system failure that allowed Kelley’s crimes to go unreported to the FBI.

“When you’re designing weapons systems and things, the last thing you want is to engineer it in a way that a single point of failure results in such a tragic outcome,” he said, before making the comments he acknowledged he “may get in trouble” for.

But 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 semi-automatic assault rifle like an AR-15, which is apparently the weapon that was used, that’s an issue not as much for this committee, but elsewhere, so again obviously domestic violence is a serious problem,” he said.

He was then cut off by an unidentified senator who said Winslow’s comments were not “in your area of responsibility or expertise.”

Authorities say Kelley used a variant of a semi-automatic riffle to conduct the attack, similar to weapons used by the gunmen in gun massacres in Las Vegas last month, an Orlando night club last year and the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in 2012.

Winslow is a former U.S. Air Force colonel who also serves as the vice chair of medicine at Stanford University. The Air Force has admitted fault for failing to report Kelley’s past military criminal convictions to the FBI, which would have blocked Kelley from purchasing a firearm.

Watch the hearing here. Winslow’s comments come at around 1:20:00

H/t: Huffington Post

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Nicole Lafond is a news writer for TPM based in New York City. She is also currently earning a master's degree in journalism from Columbia University and previously worked as an education reporter at The News-Gazette in Champaign, Ill. Follow her on Twitter @Nicole_Lafond.
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