One of President Donald Trump’s Pentagon nominees on Tuesday questioned why American civilians are able to purchase and possess "semiautomatic assault rifle like an AR-15."
What did he say?
Trump has nominated Dr. Dean Winslow, a professor at Stanford University, to be the Department of Defense’s assistant secretary for health affairs. While fielding questions during a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing, Winslow made the controversial remarks.
He was specifically responding to a question about the Texas church shooter and whether or not he should have been given a “dishonorable discharge” from the military instead of a bad conduct discharge. The former would have prevented the shooter from purchasing firearms.
According to Vox, Winslow first said the Air Force failed by not reporting the shooter’s record to civilian authorities, a mistake that allowed the shooter to buy the gun he used to massacre more than two dozen people. Then he added:
I’d also like to, and 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 apparently was the weapon that was used.
After making the remark, Winslow was immediately rebuked by the committee's chairman for diving into an area that is not in his "field of expertise." The Texas shooter used an AR-15 rifle made by Ruger.
Why are his comments significant?
Trump, and the leaders in his administration, maintain a conservative view of the Second Amendment: that no restrictions, outside of those allowed by the Supreme Court, should be placed on Americans’ right to bear arms.
It’s also surprising that Winslow chose to voice his personal views in such a public way, especially since it may hurt his chances of being confirmed to his post.
Were there any other questionable answers?
Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), the chairman of the committee, grilled Winslow over his views on abortion. According to the Washington Examiner, Winslow stated in a presubmitted questionnaire that he believes "therapeutic abortion services should be provided by the military."
McCain questioned exactly what therapeutic abortions are, and Winslow explained they are abortions needed to save the life of the mother.
"You better clean it up doctor or you are going to have trouble getting it through the Senate," McCain told Winslow.