January 27th, 2013
10:57 AM ET
9 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."

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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. babbling_nonsense

    Most of Congress can also be called "venal," so it's like the pot calling the kettle black. As for "gun control," sometimes the rights of the one outweigh the rights of the many. If our government starts taking away our individual right to own and carry arms for the defense of our persons, families, property, and communities against criminals and an oppressive government, then it won't be long before we will not longer to be permitted to voice our opinions. Once that right is gone, it's all over. Our government has become the aristocratic sovereignty predicted by James Madison.

    January 27, 2013 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  2. B

    People fail to note that the NRA is not some faceless corporate lobbying group they do have corporate supporters from the industries that benefit from their positions but more than anything it is an organization of citizens who agree with them and who pay dues to them. I am not a member but the characterization of the NRA by the media sometimes disturbs me because at their root it is an organization of gun owning citizens interested in preserving second amendment rights not some solely industry funded lobby trying to prevent environmental regulation or something.

    January 27, 2013 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  3. John T

    Oh thanks CNN, thanks for reminding me I need to re-up my NRA membership!

    January 27, 2013 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  4. imliflelike

    Stop using this thinly veiled tactic to support bad ideas. Of course we have an obligation to protect our children, but not at any cost (financial, infringement of liberty, practicality, etc.). Feinstein is not only a hypocrite (she carries a gun but wants to tell everyone else exactly what they can possess), but this argument is lazy (because it represents a knee-jerk bandaid) and stupid (because the measures she advocates won't really solve any problems). Do I think people need 30 round clips? I won't buy one, but I will fight for other peoples' rights to own one. That liberty cost people their lives throughout our history. Feinstein, stop being a lazy, stupid hypocrite.

    January 27, 2013 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  5. plain&simple2

    Lets roll over and take it like scared puppies...guns go off and shoot people all on their own...oh wait...they don't! And yes, gun owners rights do matter, because that right is protected by the 2nd Amendment. And before you go off on "who needs an AR-15?!" I'll go ahead and tell you...it's not a matter of need...it's my right. Just because I own a gun, or a few, does not mean that I want my children gunned down...forgive me if I don't believe your fear mongering hog wash. You want to background check me? Go for it. I have nothing to hide. You don't want to own a gun? That's fine, that's your right...as it is my right to own them. But hey...if you want to knee jerk to these exceptionally rare occurrences that you're going to make policy because of them...wow. Just wow. I weep for the nation and it's people with folks like that around.

    January 27, 2013 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  6. grim

    Anyone who says these kinds of laws won't change anything is absolutely right. People will still have access to assault weapons that were acquired before the ban goes into place. It's ridiculous these weapons were ever allowed into civilian hands in the first place. Red Dawn was only a movie. You won't ever need to defend yourself from an invasion with a semi-automatic machine gun. Your gun won't protect you from a hostile government take-over, because THAT ISN'T GOING TO HAPPEN! Paranoid much? Why not buy a muscle car to make up for your inadequacies rather than a machine gun? You want a hunting rifle and a pistol for your personal protection? Fine. But you don't need a friggin' machine gun! I promise you. Geez.

    January 27, 2013 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  7. mike

    Why is it that congress tries to enact their will on the populous but they themselves continue to break laws and are immune. And spending money like drunken soldiers they don't have but continually asking us for more

    January 27, 2013 11:36 am at 11:36 am |
  8. teves09

    Is this not the pot calling the Kettle Black?

    January 27, 2013 11:36 am at 11:36 am |
  9. Wow.

    Actually her being a criminal has nothing to do with any of this. End of discussion.

    January 27, 2013 11:36 am at 11:36 am |
  10. Disgusted

    Is she talking about the NRA or Obama's machine?

    January 27, 2013 11:36 am at 11:36 am |
  11. Bill Keller

    If we could just convince the NRA that GOP vote suppression and red state gerrymandering is the biggest threat to the Bill of Rights including its cherrished 2nd Amendment; then, maybe its gun toting outside the GOP offices and state house might gain it some respect. Palin could even be resurrected from the FoxNews death pyre for lock and load demonstrations in Va, Pa, Oh, In and Ws state houses. Now that would put some veracity in the NRA's all rights come from the gun ideology. LaPierre woud no longer be LaPEEYOU.

    January 27, 2013 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
  12. Dan Crawford

    Does anyone truly believe that she and Shumer and Bloomberg will go away if they get this passed? That the Brady Group will disband? That the Violence Policy Center will lay off all their people and shut the doors? They have publicly stated their long term goals, and it certainly does not end with this proposal.

    January 27, 2013 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
  13. Big Bird

    A liberal Democrat demonizing someone who opposes her. Who would've thunk it!

    January 27, 2013 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
  14. SMD

    How dare you speak out against the NRA! Please accept the fact that the paranoid factions right to bear arms supercedes the rights of citizens not to be shot down like defensless animals...be it while they are attending a college class, a movie or a classroom of six and seven year old elementary school students....we don't care! Our Rambo wannabe persona's will not allow us to live without the ability to have access to military grade weapons that can hold thirty round clips of armor piercing bullets.....period!!!!

    January 27, 2013 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  15. What in Sam Hill

    The NRA is powerful because it is a grassroots organization backed by people passionate about the amendment which preserves our democracy against tyrannists like feinstein.

    January 27, 2013 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  16. LI_Bri

    "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, ...

    But in '94 you got your assault weapons ban despite the NRA. Tell us, Dianne, what impact did that ban have? Admit it, Dianne; it made no difference. It made no difference because guns are not the root of the problem.

    I'm happy knowing your bill doesn't stand a chance.

    January 27, 2013 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  17. Darwin's Dog

    Gun control was this administrations agenda way before Sandy Hook. Sadly they are using it to push their political agenda. Anyways some reports released from state officials state "NO ASSAULT WEAPON" was used inside the school. Boy that would sink the gun control move if that was true. Now, where are those school surveillance tapes?

    January 27, 2013 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  18. fedup with all of them

    Yup, a convicted theif and SHE has the right to have a concealed weapon permit – – – "It is not about your rights, just mine "

    January 27, 2013 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
  19. Diogenes

    Yes we pro Constitution honest citizens are just too dumb to think for ourselves. We wait for our NRA leadership to tell us what to eat, drink, or believe. WHAT INSULTS THESE LIBERALS PUKE OUT!!!!

    Frankly I'm happy to hear them barffing these lies. It shows their animosity for freedom. It show their hatred for the United States. Communistc and Socialistc views are all they can fathom. They want to put Freedom in the grave and forgotten.

    January 27, 2013 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  20. John

    "Senator says NRA is 'venal.'"

    Senator needs to pick a new word. Americans have no idea what that means.

    January 27, 2013 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  21. ironwolf56

    And Feinstein would have us living in a Brave New World type society. Neither is admirable, but at least the NRA has only one real focus while Feinstein...jeez I fear the day if she got elected President.

    January 27, 2013 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  22. Danza_Slap

    It's time we enact term limits for senators.

    January 27, 2013 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  23. What1

    It doesn't matter if the NRA gets money from people. The NRA was founded to protect gun rights. Anyone giving them money is doing it to protect gun rights whether for profit or whatever. Gun rights, are gun rights senator.

    January 27, 2013 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  24. 1984

    That is rich, a politician calling a lobby venal. It should have been "Pot calls Kettle black".

    January 27, 2013 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  25. T. Storm

    When Feinstein, or anyone else that wants to ban guns, & her loved ones are willing to protect me 24/7/365; willing to take the bullet from & die for me, from anyone who would seek to harm me,.... Then I'll listen to her. Until then she & all those who want to ban the guns need to shuttheir yaps. As a single female I will defend myself by any means I deem neccesary.

    January 27, 2013 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
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