President Donald Trump’s nominee for Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs, Dr. Dean Winslow, said Tuesday it is “insane” that a civilian can buy a semi-automatic weapon like the gun that Devin Kelley used in the Texas church shooting.
Winslow made the comments in his confirmation hearing with the Senate Armed Services Committee.
“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,” Winslow said.
Law enforcement have said Kelley used Ruger AR-556, which is a variant of an AR-15.
The Pentagon declined to comment on Winslow’s remarks.
Trump has resisted any action on gun laws in response to the deadly mass shootings that have occurred during his time in office.
On Tuesday, Trump said that “there would have been no difference” in the deadly Texas shooting if an extreme vetting policy for gun ownership had been in place.
“If you did what you’re suggesting there would have been no difference three days ago, and you might not have had that very brave person who happened to have a gun in his truck and shoot him, and hit him and neutralize him,” Trump said responding to a question during a joint news conference with South Korean President Moon Jae-in.
“Instead of having 26 dead he would’ve had hundreds more dead,” Trump said.
On Monday, Trump said that he believes the Texas church shooting was caused by a “mental health problem,” not an issue with gun laws in the United States.
“Mental health is your problem here,” Trump said, noting that “based on preliminary reports” the shooter was “a very deranged individual.”
“This isn’t a guns situation,” Trump said. “This is a mental health problem at the highest level. It’s a very, very sad event.”
Trump announced his intention to nominate Winslow on September 2.
According to the White House announcement at the time, Winslow most recently served as a professor and vice chair of medicine at Stanford University.
Winslow is a retired United States Air Force Colonel with several distinguished military decorations for his service, according to the White House.
After 9/11 he deployed twice to Afghanistan and four times to Iraq as a flight surgeon supporting combat operations in Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom.