January 27th, 2013
10:57 AM ET
2 years ago

Feinstein: NRA is 'venal'

(CNN) - Sen. Dianne Feinstein on Sunday described the National Rifle Association as the biggest stumbling block to passing her assault weapons ban proposal.

"The NRA is venal. They come after you, they put together large amounts of money to defeat you," she said on CNN's "State of the Union." "They did this in '93, and they intend to continue it."

Feinstein on Thursday introduced details on a ban that would stop the sale, transfer, importation and manufacture of more than 100 specialty firearms and certain semiautomatic rifles. It would also limit the number of rounds in a magazine to 10.

The restrictions would not apply to guns owned before enactment of any law. Feinstein noted her proposal exempts from the ban more than 2,000 models used for hunting or sporting purposes.

In order for the proposal to go anywhere, Feinstein needs enough support from conservative Democrats, who will likely face intense lobbying from the NRA and other pro-gun groups.

While she recognized Sunday that passing the ban will be an "uphill fight" and the "hardest of the hard," she expressed confidence that she can at least get it to the Senate floor.

"There will be a package put together. If 'assault weapons' is left out of the package - and I'm a member of (the) Judiciary (committee), No. 2 in seniority - I've been assured by the majority leader I'll be able to do it as an amendment on the floor."

Feinstein helped push through the 1994 assault weapons ban that expired in 2004. She argued Sunday that the elementary school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, last month was the tipping point in getting the ban reinstated.

"For me Sandy Hook was an epiphany," she told CNN's chief political correspondent Candy Crowley. "(The gunman) got a very powerful weapon. He went out with that weapon, and he killed 5- and 6- and 7-year-olds, I understand, with three to 11 bullets in each of their bodies, with a weapon that had the velocity of which could really rip these bodies apart. That should not be able to happen."

Vice President Joe Biden, who also helped champion the original assault weapons ban, expressed support for the ban on Thursday. Earlier this month, President Barack Obama announced that his legislative agenda to curb gun violence included a ban on assault weapons and a cap on magazine capacity.

Wayne LaPierre, executive vice president of the NRA, railed against Obama's inauguration speech, in which the president made a brief reiteration of his push for gun control.

"When absolutes are abandoned for principles, the U.S. Constitution becomes a blank slate for anyone's graffiti," LaPierre said in a speech Tuesday. "Words do have meaning, Mr. President. And those meanings are absolute, especially when it comes to our Bill of Rights."

Feinstein, however, said Sunday it boils down to one question: "Does government have an obligation to protect those children?"

"I believe we do," she continued. "I believe we do."

– CNN's Tom Cohen contributed to this report.

Watch State of the Union with Candy Crowley Sundays at 9am ET. For the latest from State of the Union click here.


Filed under: Dianne Feinstein • Gun control • Gun rights • Senate • TV-State of the Union
soundoff (152 Responses)
  1. scranton

    This is already losing momentum.

    January 27, 2013 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
  2. Tom

    A politician calling someone else corrupt.

    January 27, 2013 11:59 am at 11:59 am |
  3. Anonymous

    The senator would best serve the people of California by tending to the concerns of the people of California, like immigration reform, energy, and transportation issues, education, and water allocation. Perhaps she could spare a bit of time on salmon and other fisheries, or getting the Fed of the backs of the pot industry legalized by the people of her state. I support intelligent gun laws. Universal background checks and a database of sales to seek out smugglers are no brainers. Banning high cap clips and rediculous drum mags is responsible. Attempting to ban most popular scary looking rifles isn't going to do much except to make this effort a prima facie waste of time and a waste of California tax payers resources.

    January 27, 2013 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  4. Mahhn

    The NRA is representing 4.3 million (wiki) people while Feinstein is part of the most corrupt Senate in history. Hmmm who represnts people,,, hmmmm.

    (I am not a member of any gun club)

    January 27, 2013 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  5. Danny Hutchens

    I'm joining the NRA and making a hefty donation. Every time a gun-ignorant lib opens their mouth, gun sales and NRA memberships skyrocket...........good strategy libs!

    January 27, 2013 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  6. lance

    The NRA lives a lie-let's just say it. We know they are pimps for gunmakers, we know their 2nd amendment dance is a load of nonsense, and we know that Wayne LaPierre is a nutcase. So why an't NRA members regain control of their own organization and not submit to acting like savages?

    January 27, 2013 12:01 pm at 12:01 pm |
  7. Wolfy Wolf

    Read the Constitution!!! You need to read the definition of militia.. By LAW there are TWO militia's in this country, one is the organized militia and the other is the unorganized militia which comprises ALL males 18 to 45 years old. You seriously need to read the history of the Second Amendment and why its there and the reasons behind it!

    January 27, 2013 12:01 pm at 12:01 pm |
  8. sgurdog

    Have any of you reactionists read what she is saying? 100 models will be banned, leaving over 2000 still available for you to drool over. Those who currently own one of them will not, I repeat NOT be forced to part ways with your precious little assault weapon. You can sleep well at night with them next to your pillow so splash some water on your face, crawl out of the bunker and shut your pie-hole.

    January 27, 2013 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  9. Emmanuel Goldstein

    Should read "Senator calls NRA 'venal'. 4 Million NRA members reach for dictionaries."

    January 27, 2013 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  10. Charlotte

    She is absolutely correct. They are not venal for defending the right to own firearms, they are venal for convincing the mindless few who are the noisiest among their sheep that ANY sensible restrictions on capacity is somehow (and it isn't true) a violation of their right to own a gun. OK, stupid gunthugs, start blathering. Blah blah blah.

    January 27, 2013 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  11. Akae Fortee Sehvin

    In a way, why get angry at Liberals, so called Progressives (funny...what's progressive about legalizing drugs, providing free health care and free education to all)? That's progressive? How do you learn earning a living, at whatever you do?
    Do we need a society of egg heads like this President, who's never labored at anything?
    Or a Senator, who's never sponsored any legislation that has ever made life better or more prosperous for any American?
    Everything that liberals in the DC sponsor IS ALL BASED ON: FEAR
    Were it not for FEAR...They would have no soap box in which to vent their anger, their angry emotions on America.
    Of course, the Head of the Liberal Party, Barack Obama, supports everything that makes individuals more dependent on Government, always beholden to someone else. Is that how you want to live? Like a slave to someone else?

    January 27, 2013 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  12. Dontdoit

    the NRA is doing exactly what is members want it to do. Which is protect our 2nd amendment rights. Feinstein if you want to change the constitution do it the right and legal way and get a 3/4 majority states vote short of that your efforts to pass a law that is contrary to the constitution and our rights is a loathsome sneaky left winf elite maneuver to attempt to control the citizens and knuckle under your discussing agendas.

    January 27, 2013 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |
  13. Fil

    Well, I'm a conscious member of NRA. This I the only organization that protects one of my important rights on the federal level. That makes me venal, too. There is at least one member of the ruling class that hates me, personally, for the ideas I represent. That proves overwhelmingly the importance of the Second Amendment – to keep types like Senator Feinstein in check.

    -
    Cohen the Barbarian

    January 27, 2013 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |
  14. TigersClaw

    This is a simple issue. Does the 2nd Amendment confer an ABSOLUTE right? If so, it is different from the 1st Amendment, 4th Amendment, etc. Freedom of speech doesn't mean you can yell fire in a crowded movie theatre. Freedom from unreasonable search and seizure doesn't mean you can't be frisked before going on an airplane. The NRA perpetuates the myth that the 2nd Amendment is absolute. Fortunately, the Supreme Court gets to decide, not Wayne LaPierre, and even Scalia says " Like most rights, the Second Amendment right is not unlimited. It is not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose: For example, concealed weapons prohibitions have been upheld under the Amendment or state analogues. The Court’s opinion should not be taken to cast doubt on longstanding prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill, or laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings, or laws imposing conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms. Miller’s holding that the sorts of weapons protected are those “in common use at the time” finds support in the historical tradition of prohibiting the carrying of dangerous and unusual weapons."

    January 27, 2013 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  15. Barb

    "The restrictions would not apply to guns owned before enactment of any law."

    That means, if you owned these guns before the law goes into effect, then you get to keep those guns. That's if it even passed. Nobody would be losing any guns with this law, but the sale of said guns would not be allowed.

    Also "Words do have meaning, Mr. President. And those meanings are absolute, especially when it comes to our Bill of Rights."

    No, the Bill of Rights isn't absolute. They have never been changed before, but legislature has been tossed around that would change some of those rights. The Bill of Rights were ratified several times before finally being put into place, but they weren't meant to be set in stone, as they even wrote into the Constitution ways to change the Constitution and Bill of Rights.

    January 27, 2013 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  16. Name george

    the reason the nra is so big is becausethere is a lot of people in support and believe that its our american right to have anything we want.IT doesn matter if we need it but we want it and we as americans dont need anybody teling us what we need.FOr god sake,we are not children.The sad thing is that it is our fault this lay is even in office and we beleave them when they run for office.We need to take our country back.

    January 27, 2013 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  17. judith

    Feinstein is absolutely right. Looking and listening to the reptilian Wayne LaPierre is ample proof. He's a paid prostitute of the murder profiteering industry.

    January 27, 2013 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  18. Michael

    Anyone who thinks that the NRA gives half a goddamn about their "rights" is kidding themselves. This is all about money to them.

    January 27, 2013 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  19. PeteH

    The "large amounts of money" Feinstein refers to comes from the pockets of the members of the NRA. In short, the NRA actually goes to bat for its members. Imagine that; representatives actually doing what they're paid to do; REPRESENT. Obviously, there are enough people in this country who don't agree with Feinstein and are willing to put their money where their mouths are. I guess that makes these folks(count me among them) enemies of the people.

    As a CA resident, I implore you; do NOT trust Feinstein. She won't show her cards until it's too late. Then, well, like I said, it'll be too late...

    January 27, 2013 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  20. Michael

    Anyone who thinks the NRA cares at all about their "rights" is kidding themselves. This is all about money to them.

    January 27, 2013 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  21. Herb

    readthe constitution.......hey gun control wacko,see what the Supreme court says about the second amendment.You can't pick and choose what part of the constution you like and don't like.

    January 27, 2013 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  22. manonadarkhorse

    This democrat will be voting against her next election. And the nra will have nothing to do with it, I've had enough of her arrogance and elitist attitude.

    January 27, 2013 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  23. Cruizin596

    Approximately 40-45% of American households own at least one gun. That is between 47-53 million households. The membership of the NRA is around 5 million. Hmmm...do you really think that the NRA and their membership are the ONLY ones that take issue with Feinstein's phase one of a gun grab? Most owners do not belong to the NRA – that does not mean that they do not agree with the battle that the NRA is raging. The NRA is an easy punching bag because they are front and center fighting for American's rights to keep and bear arms for the purposes that the founding fathers outlined in their various letters and papers that were written at the time of the writing of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. Unlike the Senator, who is either ignorant of the basis for the 2nd Amendment or chooses to lie and mislead the American public, gun owners know that the right GUARANTEED to Americans in this amendment has nothing to do with hunting (why would they guarantee the right to hunt when it was already a way of life to most Americans?) or sportsman activities (do you really think target shooting was big in 18th century America?). The Senator's choosing to not admit or acknowledge the true purpose for this amendment shows her belief that the greater population is ignorant of US history.

    January 27, 2013 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  24. Bill From Long Island

    News flash... The NRA does not pass Federal laws, Congressmen do. Don't like what's going on? Then put your blame where it belongs.. on her and her colleagues.

    January 27, 2013 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  25. NorthVanCan

    Only 4 gun deaths in Japan last year.
    NRA sugests that # would be ZERO if everyone had the right to own a gun.

    January 27, 2013 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
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