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Self-Pitying Anti-Gun Doctor Provides a Step-by-Step Lesson in How Not to Succeed in Government

Friday, December 22, 2017

Self-Pitying Anti-Gun Doctor Provides a Step-by-Step Lesson in How Not to Succeed in Government

Dr. Dean L. Winslow is feeling sorry for himself. 

It’s a common -- and frustrating -- experience. You’re up for a job. You think you’re the perfect fit. But you blow the interview, and it doesn’t work out. 

If you’re smart, it might be a good opportunity for self-reflection. What did you do wrong? How might you do better next time? 

If you’re not smart, you might simply wallow in self-pity and double down on the same sort of behavior that tanked your opportunity.

And if you’re really not smart, you might take to the pages of a national newspaper, lambast your would-be boss and his policies, and demonstrate your ignorance anew to the entire country.

Unfortunately for Winslow, he took the third option, hosting his own pity party in the form of a Washington Post op-ed about his failed attempt to work for the Trump administration. To hear Winslow tell it, President Trump really blew it this time.

For the rest of us, Winslow’s misadventure, coupled with his breathtaking sense of entitlement to public employment, is a step-by-step lesson in how not to advance a career in government.

Step one: Don’t do your homework.

Winslow wanted to work for President Trump’s administration, specifically as the assistant secretary of defense for health affairs. It’s a presidential appointment that requires Senate confirmation.

If you’re asking the president for a job, you probably should have some idea of the president’s own views and priorities, especially on highly-sensitive issues. He would be, after all, your boss.  

One obvious place to educate yourself is on the websites the president has made available to the public for the very purpose of articulating his views and priorities. 

To be sure, Winslow is entitled to his opinion. What he is not entitled to do is disrespect the president and pro-gun committee members considering his confirmation and expect that to have no consequences.

If Winslow had done even this much (or simply ordered one of his many underlings to do it), he would have learned that President Trump is a big supporter of the Second Amendment. In fact, he would have learned that it’s an issue on which Donald Trump campaigned specifically. 

On candidate Trump’s website, Winslow would have found a lengthy position paper on the Second Amendment, which states in part: 

Gun and magazine bans are a total failure. That’s been proven every time it’s been tried. Opponents of gun rights try to come up with scary sounding phrases like “assault weapons”, “military-style weapons” and “high capacity magazines” to confuse people. What they’re really talking about are popular semiautomatic rifles and standard magazines that are owned by tens of millions of Americans. Law-abiding people should be allowed to own the firearm of their choice. The government has no business dictating what types of firearms good, honest people are allowed to own.

That’s about as clear and unambiguous a statement of policy as can be hoped from any candidate. It means the president doesn’t believe in gun bans, and specifically, bans on the AR-15.

Step two: Arrive at your interview emotionally overwrought and unprepared.

By his own admission, Winslow was not in good shape when he appeared before the Senate for his confirmation hearing. In the Post editorial, he said he was “jet-lagged and in mourning” over the terrible crime that had just been committed in Sutherland Springs, Texas. 

That’s an understandable reaction to travel and national tragedy. 

But professionals in positions of responsibility need to demonstrate their ability to stay emotionally balanced and on task, even in difficult circumstances. 

And if the job were that important to him and he was that sensitive to jet-lag, Winslow could have arrived early enough before the hearing date to adjust to the time change.

Step three: Spontaneously characterize your would-be boss’s policy position as “insane” during your interview.

During his Senate hearing, Winslow was asked questions about the military’s disciplinary treatment of domestic violence offenders like the Sutherland Springs perpetrator. 

The queries involved matters beyond the role that he was applying for, and Winslow would have been justified in respectfully steering the queries back to issues of health affairs. 

Yet after providing a fairly accurate and innocuous answer, Winslow took the occasion to editorialize on topics beyond the question and the job duties he would occupy if confirmed. In doing so, he even acknowledged he might be offending members of the committee conducting the hearing.

Winslow blurted out: “I’d also like to – and I may get in trouble with other members of the committee – just say you know, 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 … .” 

Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) immediately interjected and rebuked Winslow for speaking outside his area of responsibility or expertise.

Trump himself had earlier opined on the Texas case, emphasizing problems of mental health and criticizing the idea that gun bans would have helped, given the perpetrator was stopped by a lawfully-armed citizen.

Winslow’s boneheaded comments were a classic example of self-destructive oversharing, right up there with Hillary Clinton’s own infamous assertion that the U.S. Supreme Court “is wrong on the Second Amendment” or Howard Dean’s unhinged war whoop on the 2004 campaign trail. 

And they had the same effect, basically torpedoing any chance of his nomination succeeding. 

To be sure, Winslow is entitled to his opinion. What he is not entitled to do is disrespect the president and pro-gun committee members considering his confirmation and expect that to have no consequences.

Step four: Double Down.

It may well be that Winslow has the qualifications and background to succeed in the public medical field. He might even have still found himself quietly tucked away somewhere else within the vast government medical bureaucracy, had he simply waited out the news cycle and bided his time.

Instead, he decided to further insult the president and reaffirm his opposition to Americans’ Second Amendment rights in the pages of the Washington Post.

This shows not only arrogance and bad judgment, it shows a remarkable lack of class and ingratitude for being given a chance that most people will never get.

Step five: Confirm your own ignorance on the national stage.

There’s a saying that it’s wiser to keep one’s mouth shut and be thought a fool than to open it and remove all doubt.

Once again, however, Winslow made the wrong choice by filling his op-ed with obvious misinformation about the subject that had already caused him such grief.

First, he claimed that firearms like the AR-15 are “challenging for untrained civilians to control and not optimal for home defense.” 

Taking a page from Joe Biden’s playbook, Winslow then insisted a “pump-action 12-gauge shotgun … would be far better.” 

Winslow went on to assert that “[a]ssault rifles are also poor hunting weapons due to poor accuracy beyond 100 yards.”  

All of these arguments are demonstrably false and squarely refuted in a 2015 article by one of America’s leading experts on the AR-15, Sgt. Maj. Kyle E. Lamb (ret.), who spent 15 of his 21 years in the Army in Special Operations, including in combat deployments to hotspots all over the world. Lamb continues to work as a firearms instructor for the military, law enforcement, and civilian sectors.

As any of the millions of Americans who own them know, user-friendliness and adaptability to different individuals are two of the features that have helped make the AR-15 America’s most popular rifle. Its intermediate cartridge, well-thought-out ergonomics, manageable recoil, and ease of customization make it an excellent introduction to rifle shooting for the uninitiated. Slightly-built adults, the handicapped, and practically anyone else can safely and successfully learn to shoot with an AR-15.

Lamb in fact highlighted the controllability of an appropriately-sized AR-15 for the new rifle shooter. “As long as the carbine is light enough for the shooter to handle properly,” he stated, “the learning curve will be straight-up.”  

As for the AR-15’s suitability for home defense, Lamb noted, “the AR shines in this category” and would be his choice over any shotgun. As he pointed out (no doubt from hard-won experience), you can’t count on everything going smoothly in a self-defense situation, and a semi-automatic rifle offers greater magazine capacity and ease of use in the case of having to operate the gun with an injury. 

“No one knows who, what, when, where or why the fight will start—blowhard statements only degrade an intelligent conversation,” Lamb counseled.

Lamb also soundly refuted Winslow’s claim that shotgun pellets “won’t go through a wall to endanger someone in the next room.” “[S]tandard 5.56 loadings are the least of your worries when compared to pistol and shotgun fodder, which continue to take top honors in the category of over-penetration,” Lamb stated.

With regard to long-range accuracy, Lamb mentioned the AR-15’s effectiveness against enemy insurgents at 400 yards. The thousands who use AR-15s in modern High Power competition out to 600 yards would no doubt agree.

Returning to a topic he might plausibly know something more about, Winslow also opined on the effectiveness of the federal assault weapons ban and the use of semi-automatic rifles in crime. 

But again, he could not have been more wrong, suggesting that the ban reduced mass shootings and invoking the gun controller’s favorite shibboleth, Australia’s widespread firearm confiscation during the 1990s. “Assault weapons in the United States are not being used to kill ‘bad guys’ in self-defense or to provide for a ‘well-regulated militia,’” Winslow huffed, “but for entertainment, mass murder and domestic terrorism.”

In fact, even some gun control advocates admit that government-sponsored studies were unable to substantiate any crime-reduction benefit from America’s 10-year experiment with restricting semi-automatic firearms. The effects of Australia’s much stricter gun control policies are highly-debatable, at best, and those policies are obviously unsuitable for the U.S., which has far more guns, gun owners, and a constitutional right to arms. 

Moreover, rifles of any type are consistently used less often in murder than hands, feet, or blunt objects, while semi-automatic versions most certainly are used by police and private persons alike for defensive purposes.  

It’s also incredible that Winslow would blame “mourning” over the Sutherland Springs murders for his ill-conceived gun control statements and then so casually dismiss the fact that the perpetrator was in fact stopped by a local man with an AR-15. 

Step six: Deny your own mistakes and blame them on the person who offered you the job.

Winslow basically asserted in his op-ed that given the chance, he would do the same thing all over again. “I have no regrets,” he wrote. “Having semiautomatic weapons makes no sense. It is a public-health issue that, as a doctor, I felt compelled to bring to the Senate’s attention.”

He then took another swipe at the president and Senate committee: “As a citizen, I am saddened that our government has become so dominated by pro-gun lobbyists that an appointment such as mine — which has no responsibility for gun control — can be sidelined by a single sentence of informed, personal opinion.”

We at the NRA would certainly love to take credit for Winslow’s failure to be confirmed, and we’re glad he will not be supported by our tax dollars on the government payroll. 

But in this case, the blame lies squarely on his own shoulders.

Now pack your bags, Dr. Winslow. You’re not getting the job.

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Established in 1975, the Institute for Legislative Action (ILA) is the "lobbying" arm of the National Rifle Association of America. ILA is responsible for preserving the right of all law-abiding individuals in the legislative, political, and legal arenas, to purchase, possess and use firearms for legitimate purposes as guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.