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. sad day at the movies

    Kind of like a labor union, huh Diane ?

    January 27, 2013 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  2. Randy, San Francisco

    Supporters of strict interpretation of the US Constitution have it correct. The right to bear arms means 18th century musket and flintlock technology. Ban automatic assault weapons!

    January 27, 2013 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
  3. don in albuquerque

    Mahhn-Um, sorry to fill you in but the NRA represents less then 1% of the people. And a large number of those members do not support their radical government control ideas. Time to end the NRA, ALEC, and all these pseudo groups who say the represent the people. They represent nothing but their ability to make money.

    January 27, 2013 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  4. ?

    What is wrong with these extreme gun people? Why does anyone want or need an assault rifle? For what? Most mass shootings come from people who have legal guns in their home that sick people use because they taught young children hate and fear.
    What is the point of having them? Trained police officers rarely shoot people with hanguns let alone assault weapons when they are doing their job daily basis. Why does a civilized society live in so much fear that you want assault weapons? For what? What has happened to rational people that think about issues without being opinionated angry or emotional all the time?
    What in the hell is wrong with middle America?

    January 27, 2013 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  5. Vitaly

    I waited to see what was included in the ban. After seeing what she proposes, I better understand the NRA viewpoint. Limit the magazine capacity to 5 or 10 rounds, but the many types of weapons she proposes banning goes too far.

    January 27, 2013 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  6. kennylee

    The word venal has to be dumbed down for most of the NRA members that are reading this...they only have a 3rd grade education. Now hit that banjo music...

    January 27, 2013 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  7. John the Historian

    Feinstein represents the greatest state of California so more people voted for her than are members of the NRA. The NRA wants only murderers and terrorists to have guns. How many assault weapons and rapid shooting guns do you need to kill bambi ???The second amendment is only about regulated militias not individuals. I guess the NRA wants machine guns and poison gas for everyone they are arms and how about a tank and flak guns ? Since the NRA doesn't even want background checks and many are getting guns without background checks this speaks for itself. Just get yourself a taser. Guns are for killing. Look at the statistics for Japan and Germany and England. Cnsidering the USA is the biggest arms manufacturer and exporter, Reagan helped train Osama Bin Laden, the USA has nothing to be proud of with arms. How many terrorists have been supplied by the USA ????

    January 27, 2013 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  8. MRM

    The NRA is not an object. They represent over 4 million members. I am one of those members!

    January 27, 2013 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  9. michael hart

    ' The NRA is representing 4.3 million people...' There are 313 million people in the United States, the NRA is pushing their agenda on the majority with their fear mongering tactics. They are basically TERRORISTS!

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

    ve·nal : /ˈvēnl/ : Adjective: Showing or motivated by susceptibility to bribery.
    The NRA is not venal, Senators are.

    Another Feinstein misconception.

    January 27, 2013 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  11. The Doug

    Politicians are venal.

    January 27, 2013 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  12. Olga Frias

    NRA has a lot of members that do not subscribe to their political agenda; they are members only to be able to practice in many of the rifle ranges thought the states that you cannot have access to, unless you become a member, thus inflating the numbership and of course getting the extra cash. On the other hand, gun control is a lost uphill battle that will not stop a sick person from killing, they would find other ways, like bombs and fire. I am an veteran (Marines) who can handle a weapon, and know that an assault weapon should be in the hands of the military only; but I also know that it is not going to happen. We are like the Romans and like the Romans we will destroy our own empire.

    January 27, 2013 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  13. charles

    ok look, the weapons used in the school shooting, are not military weapons, the supposedly AR they found (in the trunk of the car), wasn't even used. Media, its the number one tool to mislead all American's of what makes news and that's what they will report. this all boils down to a kid that should of never had a weapon in his hand ever, His mother failed, and the gun abiding citizens of America are now going to pay for this act. a ban is not the answer, back ground checks and mental testing, stuff like that this probably a better choice then banning weapons. For the ones that have these weapons lock them up, don't be stupid and think its ok to leave them out. lock them up when not in use. one law I truly think should be passed is if a kid gets a gun and brings it to school the parents should be fined/jailed and sentenced to hold gun safety classes to all the students of each school in there state/county.

    January 27, 2013 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  14. Smoking joe

    At least they are not raping my freedoms as a citizen of the United States. The only thing the NRA wanted from me was a yearly fee . It seems like Feinstein wants my civil liberties and any shred of freedom . The all mighty government wants us to slowly turn into communism with every new law that takes some degree of freedom.

    January 27, 2013 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  15. Larry

    If the senator and the president truly want productive gun control and management for safety from the mentally unstable and reduction of gun crime, they would drop the premise of banning types of guns. Inclusion of gun bannings is only a road block because it indicates that the real goal is to open the door to banning all guns. The president and the senator are stating that this is not the goal, then prove it by dropping gun bannings. Removal of that road block will enable the NRA and gun right supporters to join with the senator and president to work out meaningful steps in management of firearm ownership for the health of this nation. Time for the president and his supporters to show their commitment to a workable solution.

    January 27, 2013 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  16. Judith

    It is no wonder the USA is in the state it is with so many people who do not understand the Queens English (I am not talking about those whose first language is not English).

    Gun controls are a vital element of law enforcement; thus working on ways to prevent guns from the hands of criminals is a top priority. The problem is that too many Americans are buying guns such as the Bushmaster and then selling them on to criminals in straw sales. Very few guns get into the USA by illegal means; even if the GOP does make a dinner party about a couple that did. The other way that criminals get guns is by stealing them from their lawful owners and this is usually enabled by people just leaving their guns out in the open so any David, Wayne or Newt can come along and steal them.

    Gun controls are neither I violation of the second or intended to take all guns out of society.

    If people who buy guns legally were not so stupid and allow them to end up in the hands of criminals; there would be no need for the proposed gun controls but because those people are stupid the rest of the lawful gun owners will face restrictions.

    January 27, 2013 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  17. Tracy Walters

    Senator Feinstein said: "The NRA is venal" Those are pretty strong words...and I'm a member of the NRA, so I know what she thinks of me and millions of other Americans.

    Just as Nancy Pelosi referred to Tea Party members as 'Astroturf; and 'tea baggers' .... statements calculated to anger and insult those who have a different opinion than her, Feinstein does the same thing. There is no chance of discussion with people such these two ... all they do is insult, demean and marginalize American citizens, thinking that is the best way to get their point across.

    Right out the Saul Alinsky playbook on how to destroy your opponent and imbue Socialism.

    January 27, 2013 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  18. olepi

    Venal: capable of being bought or obtained for money or other valuable consideration : purchasable; especially : open to corrupt influence and especially bribery

    Sounds about right.

    January 27, 2013 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  19. lance

    The NRA is not the decreed protector of the Constitution-the ACLU is, however. The NRA is the self-appointed protector of gunmakers' profit margins. If the government takes away any OTHER of your rights except gun rights, the NRA could care less.

    January 27, 2013 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  20. Your Momma

    I might be wrong but an assault type rifle was not used in the Sandy Hook shootings or the Va. Tech shootings, it was pistols.

    Just more govt control of the people.

    January 27, 2013 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  21. David

    I'm glad, i will gladly donate to them to keep stupid laws off the books. Try enforcing what's out there. The laws only hurt law abiding citizens

    January 27, 2013 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  22. Hurr Durr

    Wait, Senator, you're saying that people who are against your bill are trying to get that bill to not pass?

    Say it ain't so!

    January 27, 2013 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  23. Grace

    The NRA has become a subversive organization attempting to overthrow our democratic process where the majority rules.
    Unfortunately Sen Reid helped them this past week by keeping the status quo and not instituting the majority vote to pass a bill. 51 votes in the Senate would be much easier to secure than the 60 that was instituted by the Republicans years ago.
    It insures that a minority party can control legislation. Sen Reid needs to resign for failing to keep a promise he stated MANY times in the last 4 years.

    January 27, 2013 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  24. justdad

    The restrictions fienstien has in her bill does nothing to protect children, and limits the rights of honest people. Nearly everyone in isreal is armed daily and the murderer rate is one fifth that of the United States. Of course they have much higher character as a group than we have now. Religion is much more a part of their lives and government service of 2 years after high school is mandatory.

    January 27, 2013 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  25. whta

    darn right, taking away our rights IS the "hardest of the hard". GO TEAM NRA!!!!

    January 27, 2013 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
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