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. Scott

    rla: nothing you said is true, and your argument is flawed even if it were. 50% of this country does not support the other 50%; that is simply ridiculously, laughably false. The US is nowhere near bankrupt: we have $65T in wealth vs. $16T in debt. And we do not borrow half of every dollar we spend. Our budget is $4.5T, and our revenue is $3T. So, at worst, we're borrowing 33 cents per dollar, but even that is a meaningless number. In 2 years, we will be back to a deficit that is 3% of GDP, which is historically quite low. Finally, your argument is flawed, because it presents a false dichotomy. The Senate does not work on one issue at a time, so it is not a choice between budget issues and gun control.

    January 27, 2013 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  2. Larry L

    @ Bastrop Texas where the murder rate is zero

    Bastrop is a bedroom community of Austin – the "bluest" city in Texas and one of the few cities in Texas not totally controlled by overweight, bigoted Fox News drones. If you're interested in corruption by government officials take a look at Governor "Oops" Perry's "pay to play program" where only his contributors get an audience.

    January 27, 2013 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  3. Diogonese

    The NRA is venal?! Feinstein is a senator: the very embodiment of venality. We need organizations like the NRA to protect us from the government.

    January 27, 2013 11:47 am at 11:47 am |
  4. Anonymous

    As a Senator she is an expert on "venal". Corruption, and how to get in on it, is part of her daily life. As for disarming America, she might just as well push a rope.

    January 27, 2013 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  5. Mike

    @ plain&simple: This issue is everyone's rights matter. Gun owner and non gun owner, if you take a right away from one, you take it from all. My owning guns does not impact you in any way, and I am not interested in compelling you to own guns. It is your right to not do so. Once you start giving your rights away, you open the door to more being taken away. I'll grant you the NRA is over the top, but they do not represent all responsible gun owners. In case you are unaware we live in a Constitutional Republic not a Democracy. The rule of law governs us, not majority rule. The issue no one wants to give any real attention to is that there are known crazy people out there that we ignore and let wander among us. If they decide to do evil, they will do it with any means possible. I should not be punished because our society does not have the will to address this health issue. That's like sending you to jail because your neighbor robbed a bank. It makes no sense. Let's address the issue with actions that will work. I agree with background checks for everyone and I believe we need to stop ignoring the abysmal state of our mental health care system.

    January 27, 2013 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  6. K.W.

    I'm not a member of the NRA but I am an American. Our Constitution gave me the right to keep and bear an arm. I intend to keep it. If she wants it, she can try to come and get it.

    January 27, 2013 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  7. Theirony

    In all honesty i had to look up its defination. Maybe she should have aswell.
    Showing or motivated by susceptibility to bribery: "venal politicians".
    corrupt – corruptible – bribable – mercenary

    January 27, 2013 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  8. tonyh110

    The NRA official membership, around 3-4 million, is made up of paid 'We the People' members – its the tip of the iceberg of millions more law abiding, safe, responsible gun owners who are starting to get a little pi$$ed into even having to have an organisation to protest their basic rights. So bring it on Feinstein/Obama, lie and deceive all you want with your puppet media machine but 'WE the People' (excluding city dwelling Obama sheeple) aren't dumb 'subjects' who believe we should bow to anyone!

    January 27, 2013 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  9. Mike

    Showing or motivated by susceptibility to bribery: "venal politicians".
    corrupt – corruptible – bribable – mercenary

    If ever there was a use for the statement "sound like the pot calling the kettle black"!!

    January 27, 2013 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  10. Read the Constitution!!!

    Gun wackos still try to use the constitution against level headed people who want to protect their first amendment right to peacefully assemble without having some wack job shoot them. Try reading the second amendment where is says "a well regulated militia". Read it again and again. A well regulated militia has rules and laws that must be followed. An assault weapons ban is part of a well regulated militia. Game, Set, and Match!

    January 27, 2013 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  11. James

    If it was totally up to Dianne F. we would be loading muskets about now.

    January 27, 2013 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  12. REALL!!

    did she really say that what happened in newtown was an epiphany. Dems Never waste a tragedy

    January 27, 2013 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  13. Ed of Roanoke

    And she's not venal? How many pockets is she in? Kettle, meet Pot...

    January 27, 2013 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  14. JZ from NJ

    No one knows for sure, but the general estimate is that there are between 280 million and 300 million guns of various types already sitting in the homes of America's citizens and non-citizens. And, Senator Feinstein's bill would grandfather them all. And, that, my friends, is all you need to know about efforts to curb gun violence in this country.

    January 27, 2013 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  15. Anonymous

    This coming from someone that's allowed to carry concealed but virtually everyone in here district can't! Hmm, that's fair. "I get to protect myself buy you can't." What a beeeatch!!

    January 27, 2013 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  16. Rudolf vs

    Hmm... It is possible that the NRA is venal, but we know for sure that many of our politicians are venal.

    January 27, 2013 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  17. Bob

    Owning guns made sense 200 yrs ago before there was a standing military. The farmers grabbed their guns and went off to fight the invaders ( the British for example). I would not say the same necessity exists okay. If nothing else, if the US military took over the country in a coup,, the general populace would in no way "rise" up to defeat them... armed or not!

    January 27, 2013 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  18. Phineas Dregg

    I am a member of the NRA. Neither I, nor anyone I know, wants you to "roll over and take it" because the "NRA is big and bad." We believe the government has shown in the past a failure to protect its citizens and that this responsibility ultimately falls on the individual. I want to defend myself and my children, not just have a neatly written police report about my murder. Not all governments are benign. Our own government has enslaved minorities and attempted genocide (remember the small pox blankets we gave to the Native Americans). Our own government also forcibly sterilized 64,000 people between 1907 and 1963. Just look up the Eugenics program. We are not extremists who want to take over the government, we just don't want the government to turn against us and hurt our families. There are many other examples of such atrocities throughout history where the government turned against its citizens, such as Nazi Germany, Stalinist Russia and China under Chairman Mao.

    January 27, 2013 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  19. Anonymous

    Democrats will not stop until they take every single gun. Then they can dictate their will without opposition.

    January 27, 2013 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  20. RINO Bill

    Misinformation alert! The NRA was not founded to protect gun rights as What1 states.

    The NRA was founded a very long time ago to promote firearms safety and awareness. Back then there were no "gun issues." It was not until around 1968 that the NRA started addressing "gun rights" issues. As the years progessed, their emphasis shifted more to "2nd Amendement issues."

    January 27, 2013 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  21. Anology

    If all of the bad notes from the band are coming from the piccolo section, you don't get rid of the piccolos, you get rid of the bad piccolo player.
    We do owe it to the children to protect them but your ban only puts more weapons in the criminals hands and less in the protectors hands.

    January 27, 2013 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  22. donna in CO

    The NRA membership represents 1.34% of the entire population. Most gun owners DO NOT belong to the NRA. 98.6% of the population of the country DO NOT belong to the NRA. The NRA's ifluence with Congress is totally disproportionate to the size of their membership. In other words, Congress is once again being BOUGHT by an element of Corporate America. Our citizens DESERVE BETTER !!!!!!!! Do your job, Congress. Represent the majority !!!!!!!!!

    January 27, 2013 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  23. AR

    What trash. Diane Feinstein relies on the majority of Americans not actually READING the bill she proposes. There's nothing categorical about her bans. She just picks the guns that look scariest (whether or not they pose any increased danger) and puts them on a "banned" list. Correct me if I'm wrong, but a I believe bullet from a Colt .45 hurts just as much as a bullett from an AR-15. The only difference is you can't sneak an AR-15 into any place with a security guard without being noticed. Oh. Wait. Schools don't have security guards. That was banned. Well that worked out real well, didn't it?

    January 27, 2013 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  24. Jay

    Bottom line is they can waste all the time in the world on this legislation. Criminals/crazy people will still find a way to get their firearms to carry out their heinous acts. It doesn't take an assault weapon to kill a lot of people. They will simply Google ways to make weapons of mass destruction if they can't get a firearm. We might as well introduce legislation that censors what can be looked at on the internet.

    January 27, 2013 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  25. sgurdog

    And to the dude pointing out the 4 million membership of the NRA...just look at the labor union membership which is almost triple the NRA membership and you'll see that it's a small army in comparison. We're definitely not afraid to stand up to you, even if a few weak politicians are, we will force them to act on our behalf.

    January 27, 2013 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
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