March 14th, 2013
06:52 PM ET
10 years ago

Feinstein describes feelings during exchange with ‘arrogant’ colleague

Washington (CNN) – Saying she felt "patronized" by Senate colleague Ted Cruz, Sen. Dianne Feinstein explained Thursday why she felt the need to raise her voice in anger at the Texas Republican during a debate over gun control.

"I felt he was somewhat arrogant about it," Feinstein said of Cruz's suggestion the Senate Judiciary Committee was ignoring the Constitution during its debate over banning semiautomatic firearms.

She spoke on CNN's "The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer."

"When you come from where I've come from ... when you found a dead body and put your finger in bullet holes, you really realize the impact of weapons," she continued, referring to the 1978 assassination of San Francisco Mayor George Moscone and City Supervisor Harvey Milk, whose bodies she discovered at City Hall.

"When you see these weapons becoming attractive to grievance killers, people who take them into schools, into theaters, into malls - you wonder, does America really need these weapons? My answer to that is no. And so it's based on my experience," she continued.

The furious exchange with Cruz came before the judiciary panel passed the assault weapons ban Feinstein introduced on a party line vote. After Cruz implored the committee not to forget the Constitution in its debate, Feinstein angrily replied, "I'm not a sixth grader."

"I've studied the Constitution myself. I am reasonably well-educated and I thank you for the lecture," she continued, noting that the assault weapons ban backed by President Barack Obama but opposed by the powerful gun lobby exempted certain weapons.

"Isn't that enough for the people in the United States? Do they need a bazooka? Do they need other high-powered weapons that military people use to kill in close combat? I don't think so," she said.

She concluded by telling Cruz that "I come from a different place than you do. I respect your views. I ask you to respect my views."

Afterward, Feinstein said she needed time to "cool down" before speaking to her Republican colleague.

"I did say, 'Look, I'm sorry. But, you know, this is one thing that I feel very passionately about,'" Feinstein recalled saying.

Now that her assault weapons ban is heading to the full Senate, Feinstein said she expects Obama to begin working with lawmakers to build support.

Despite polls showing that such a prohibition resonates with Americans, most observers don't give the bill much of a chance in the full Senate.

The California Democrat isn't one of them.

"The people do want it," Feinstein said. "So I hope the people make the connection now with their representatives. In the West, in the Midwest, in the South and in the East. And say, 'yes, we agree with the polls. We want this bill.'"

The legislation was prompted by December's school shooting in Connecticut.

Filed under: Dianne Feinstein • Gun control
soundoff (412 Responses)
  1. ritmocojo

    Ted Cruz- the latest embarrassment to hale from the once great state of Teaxas.(before they added another 'a' to Texas)

    March 15, 2013 10:38 am at 10:38 am |
  2. sonny chapman

    Cruz, Paul & Rubio. Too immature to be trusted to use political power wisely. Didn't America learn anything after 8 years of George W. Bush ?

    March 15, 2013 10:39 am at 10:39 am |
  3. Rudy NYC

    A True Conservative

    Ms. Feinstein you never answered the question. Why not?
    Maybe, just maybe, it's because Mr. Cruz never actually asked a question directed specifically at Sen. Feinstein. Cruz was speaking and asked a rhetorical question, for which a direct answer was never expected. Feinstein interupted him, hence the later apology, and blasted him for the insinuation of incompetence that the remark suggested.

    March 15, 2013 10:39 am at 10:39 am |
  4. Critical Thinker

    Does Sen. Cruz welcome privately-owned armed drones flying over his home in Texas? Or, how about a guy with an AK-47 and hand grenades standing on the sidewalk in front of his home? According to him, these scenarios are protected by the 2nd amendment. 10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2.....!

    March 15, 2013 10:39 am at 10:39 am |
  5. skybill40

    CB: Funny how MSNBC retracted their reporting on it when the ME came out and stated as such. Why would they do that if it was reported correctly the first time?

    Try again.

    March 15, 2013 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  6. stta

    One thing that people don't take into consideration when the second amendment was written is the gun technology. They were using single load flintlock guns and using bayonets. More battles were hand to hand. At that time the US recently gained independence from England using their militia. Times have changed. It is time to look at the intent and practicality not use a few words as cut an dry defense for all arms. If we take it literally does it mean one should be allowed to have a nuclear missile as a right to bare arms? One who has a gun knows their intent but how does everyone else? There is a big push for carry and conceal but how many well intended people end up in fights and a gun is used when they are in fear of losing the fight. How many innocent people are killed. In the mean time I sometimes like the idea that criminals will have second thoughts fearing a victim may have a gun. We need some common sense and discussion not hiding behind the words of the second amendment while losing the real intent and bringing it into the 21st century.

    March 15, 2013 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  7. jnpa

    I think Sen Cruz was arrogant to suggest that she not forget the Constitution. I think she knows exactly what she is doing. I am also thrilled she put a GOP senator in his place. Maybe if more did that, THEY wouldn't be so arrogant!

    March 15, 2013 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
  8. sonnie3

    No doubt about it. She does not understand the second amendment. She just wants to undermine it. The 2nd amendment is to protect the citizens from the Government and that is why her and most liberal Demo's want to see the Amendment gutteed. She swore to uphold the contitution and she should be rated as a traitor for what she would like to do. I have yet to see a gun jump of the wall and shoot anyone. It takes a nut case to commit a crime against anyone. The right to keep and bear arms includes the ar-15. We are not dealing with muskets anymore. If the Government has them so should a well armed militia. This will keep us free from Government runing over us. It will preserve our liberties and Freedoms.

    March 15, 2013 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  9. CB

    They also reported that Lanza;s brother was the shooter, that his mother was a teacher at the school, that his mother was shot to death at the school, and that his father has been killed. There were a lot of inaccurate reports that morning, do you believe them all too? The police report is on line, go read it. You try again.

    March 15, 2013 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  10. Penny Wright

    Cruz has that rare combination of arrogance and stupidity.

    March 15, 2013 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  11. Janet

    Wait – a PISTOL caused the carnage at Sandy Hook? I saw photos of an AK47 with 30 round clips. The killer fired over 150 rounds in 5 minutes – a PISTOL did that? I also listened to the entire exchange between Cruz and Feinstein. He sounded like an idiot and she conducted herself with dignity. I myself am a gun owner and along with the majority of NRA members and the American public – I support background checks and common sense gun control. The best part of the 2nd amendment are the words "well regulated". Some gun nuts get utterly "limp" at the thought of any gun control – grow up!

    March 15, 2013 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
  12. bcrunner

    We have too many Cruzs in Congress. That's the problem.. My goodness!! I watched the exchange... He has no shame!! Same guy who said there were a bunch of communist professors at Harvard!! Well, well... why did not transfe r then? Why did he continue to attend that communist university??? What an IDIOT!!!!!

    March 15, 2013 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
  13. skybill40

    Yeah, because the police report is to be believed completely as no erroneous and/or false information was ever included? Bwahahahahah!

    The "rifle" in question was shown being removed from his car AFTER the shooting had ended. Live video showed it for all to see. So, again, how did he shoot them with a rifle when it was in his car and it was the only rifle removed from the scene?

    March 15, 2013 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  14. CB

    From the Connecticut State Police report:

    " The shooter used the Bushmaster .223 to murder 20 children and six adults inside the school; he used a handgun to take his own life inside the school. No other weapons were used in this crime. This case remains under investigation.

    Lt. J. Paul Vance

    Skybill40-maybe you should call the police and tell them they have it all wrong.

    March 15, 2013 10:50 am at 10:50 am |
  15. Snit Detector

    Didn't Cruz go to the same school as our imbecile of a President Obaffoon?

    March 15, 2013 10:51 am at 10:51 am |
  16. stupid is...

    ssta,.....lets say you did have a nuclear weapon. would you use it? If i had one, I wouldnit. Its the person not the object. the consitution was written in generalities and used the term "arms" not "firearms" for a reason. It covers ALL forms of defense...knives, swords, plowshares, rifles, guns, etc. etc.

    March 15, 2013 10:51 am at 10:51 am |
  17. Sniffit

    "If the Government has them so should a well armed militia"

    Where would you like your nuclear warheads dropped off? Around back by the woodshed or in the front driveway?

    March 15, 2013 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  18. Steve Obama-HOUSTON

    I have such a disdain for Ted Cruz! It's quite embarrassing that he is a Texas resident. It is bad enough that we have to deal with Rick Perry and his alouf attitude to the needs of the people, now we have another idiot representing our once great state. It is a sad day in time for us. It's not even the fact that they are Republicans but more that they just do not get it!!!

    March 15, 2013 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  19. abbot

    Why do libs cry when we ask them a question? Hilary first and now Fienstien. Cant take the heat stay out of the kitchen.

    March 15, 2013 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  20. Sniffit

    "because the police report is to be believed completely as no erroneous and/or false information was ever included? "

    Wow. Someone could use that as a discussion starter during Psyh 101 discussion of patholgical denial. BTW, it was a shotgun in the back of his car, genius.

    March 15, 2013 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  21. Papaw Nick

    It is not nice to disagree with Diane. Her way will solve the epidemic of shootings. Remember on ABC Face the Nation She had one solution BAN assult type weapons. Also on the same show the NYPD commissioner stated they had 1400 shootings and only 3 were with this type of weapon. Feinstein hasn't even considered the other 1397 shootings. The commissioner said they had a great problem with illeagle conceiled handguns.

    March 15, 2013 10:55 am at 10:55 am |
  22. Nayram

    I am always irritated by young people who have a position and try to steam roll their elders---their position goes to their head. I'm so glad that Ms Feinstein put Cruz in his place.

    March 15, 2013 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
  23. Thomas

    Ted Cruz / Rick Perry 2016

    Louie Gohmert Secretary of State .

    One country , One Texas !

    March 15, 2013 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
  24. skybill40

    Funny how I, along with everyone else, watched them pull TWO weapons from the car.

    March 15, 2013 10:58 am at 10:58 am |
  25. Jeff

    In the Heller case of 2008 the Supreme Court ruling stated the following:

    "(2) 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: "

    I submit that even a sixth grader can understand what that means!

    March 15, 2013 11:01 am at 11:01 am |
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