President Donald Trump’s nominee to oversee the Department of Veterans Affairs from the Pentagon Tuesday said it’s “insane” an American civilian can buy an AR-15 assault rifle.
During a nomination hearing before the Senate Committee on Armed Services, New Hampshire Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen asked Dr. Dean L. Winslow, the nominee to be assistant secretary of defense for Health Affairs, whether someone like the Sutherland Springs, Texas church shooter Devin Patrick Kelley should have received a dishonorable discharge instead of the lesser bad conduct discharge.
The Air Force admitted Monday that it failed to report Kelley’s misdemeanor domestic violence conviction to the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check system, potentially allowing Kelley to obtain the weapon he used to shoot members of First Baptist Church in Texas. The armed forces are required to report misdemeanor assault convictions to the FBI, which would have restricted him from purchasing a weapon.
After answering that the problems that allowed Kelley to obtain a firearm legally represent a “single point failure,” and is a tragic error in the system, Winslow went further to comment on gun laws.
“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,” Winslow said.
Kelley used a Ruger AR-556 according to reports, which is similar to an AR-15.
“I think that’s an issue not so much for this committee, but elsewhere,” Winslow continued, but committee chairman Arizona Sen. John McCain interrupted him; “Dr. Winslow, I don’t think that’s your area of responsibility or expertise,” McCain said.
McCain pledged in a statement Monday that the Senate Armed Services Committee will “conduct rigorous oversight of the Department’s investigation into the circumstances that led to this failure” to report the conviction to the FBI’s database.
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