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. Lamarsh

    Senator Diane Feinstein references to her witnessing Dan White murdering San Francisco Mayor George Moscone and San Francisco Supervisor Harvey Milk, claiming that she's "seen what these guns can do," however she fails to note that Dan White killed those men with a REVOLVER HANDGUN. Where's the integrity? Why doesn't CNN show what Cruz said? It's because he provided a lucid, reasonable short speech to Sen. Feinstein on the Constitution. Judging by her looks, Feinstein isn't a sixth grader, but perhaps a career politician like Feinstein, with a bachelor degree in history, could use some advice on the Constitution from a Harvard Law grad like Cruz, who then went on to clerk for the former Chief Supreme Court Justice Rehnquist, and J. Michael Luttig of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. Cruz also drafted the amicus brief in the landmark Second Amendment case, District of Columbia v. Heller.

    March 15, 2013 11:01 am at 11:01 am |
  2. sandiegowatch

    Contrary to what some of you may think, Feinstein does not understand firearms. Assault weapons have been banned for over a quarter of a century. The reason we have the right to bare arms is to protect ourselves from government. The same government that refuses to tackle illegal immigration, caused the 16 trillion dollar deficit, putting drones over our heads, Department Of Homeland Security purchases 2 bilion rounds of ammunition, our government is preparing for possible civil unrest..............and you want the government to regulate your firearm? That is insanity.....

    March 15, 2013 11:03 am at 11:03 am |
  3. MeanOldMan

    Having watched Cruz since he took office has made me a believer in reincarnation. Joe McCarthy is back.

    March 15, 2013 11:04 am at 11:04 am |
  4. sonnie3

    She is the Arrogant one/ Just what part of the Second Amendment does this simple minded person understand?
    It is not to be infringed and that is what she wants to do. And because she swore to up hold the constituion, she should stand trial for treason and and obstruction of justice.

    March 15, 2013 11:05 am at 11:05 am |
  5. Rudy NYC


    Why do libs cry when we ask them a question? Hilary first and now Fienstien. Cant take the heat stay out of the kitchen.
    Cruz never asked a question of anyone? He was using his allotted time to express his views and posed a rhetorical question. One that carried the suggestion that Mrs. Feinstein was incompetent in her understanding of the Constitution. She interrrupted him and gave him a mouthful.

    Mrs. Feinstein was mayor of San Francisco when Cruz was 7 years old, still discovering all the flavors of Cheerios.

    March 15, 2013 11:05 am at 11:05 am |
  6. MikeTheInfidel

    "noting that the assault weapons ban backed by President Barack Obama but opposed by the powerful gun lobby exempted certain weapons"

    'Certain weapons' being over 2100 different weapons. Isn't that sort of a significant detail to miss?

    March 15, 2013 11:08 am at 11:08 am |
  7. bigdicmcgee

    what i heard from Feinstein was basically: "do you know who I am?" kind of like when two ppl are about to fight and one annouces how great they are and you better not mess with me. If her claim to fame is 20 years in Washington they we can lay part of this debt at her feet. She can bluster all she wants but one day she will not be in Washington (due to old age) and the country will be better for it.

    March 15, 2013 11:08 am at 11:08 am |
  8. Diraphe

    If she is so worried about bazookas why isn't that addressed in her bill?

    March 15, 2013 11:09 am at 11:09 am |
  9. Obama

    Feinstein acts like, and has the mentality of, a 6th grader.

    March 15, 2013 11:10 am at 11:10 am |
  10. just checking

    I found Ted Cruz debate on assault weapons abhorrent... but thats to be expected from the right...IRRATIONAL JUDGEMENT.

    March 15, 2013 11:10 am at 11:10 am |
  11. Sniffit

    "Joe McCarthy is back."

    Funny thing is, he even bears a crazy resemblance to McCarthy's very scary. Google their pictures.

    March 15, 2013 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  12. pokey5735

    Thank God for the Cruz's of this country. Feinstein used the same tactics she always uses and goes into a rant in order to ignore answering the question. She was acting arrogantly as she always does.
    Politicians like Feinstein should be ignored and put out to pasture. Nothing would make her happier than to disarm America and make them victims just like Hitler and many other dangerous tyrants.

    March 15, 2013 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  13. bigdicmcgee

    and all this crap about weapons; if you are going to ban certain types of guns; you better be willing to ban machine shops ; the first carbine was made from a tractor axle, block of metal, and a chunck of wood. But, it goes back to some ppl really don't understand rifles or firearms.

    March 15, 2013 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  14. Carl Wilhelm

    A few facts, 1. The National Firearms Act (1934) outlawed modern weapons over 50 cal, short barrel shotguns, fully automatic weapons, plus other restrictions. Therefore Senator Feinstein was badly off the mark regarding her bazooka comments. The second amendment has been restricted by the NFA and by many other Federal and State laws including the 1968 Gun Control Act. 2. Senator Feinstein by her own admission had been working on her bill for over a year, and planned to not introduce the bill until after the election. The tragic school incident had nothing to do with the bill or the date the bill was introduced. 3. If you believe the Medical Examiner, an assault rifle was not used to murder the little children. 4. The terms "assault rifle" and "gun show loophole" are very dishonest. Assault rifles are not legal due to the NFA, and the same laws apply at gun shows that apply at gun stores. 5. This issue is not about government gun control, it's about government control.

    March 15, 2013 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  15. edward

    Cruz is the biggest Texas joke ever....well, maybe not the biggest but comes in second after GWB.

    March 15, 2013 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  16. Big Pete

    People are not really killing people with assault rifles/weapons like in Mexico in comparison.Also,the Assault Rifle the Youngster had in Connecticut shooting was NOT EVEN used in the action,it was recovered in the vehicle trunk.Is silly why this leftist are going after a weapon that was not even used.

    March 15, 2013 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  17. Bob

    "Assault weapons have been banned for over a quarter of a century"


    AR-15's ARE assault weapons, by their very definition.

    March 15, 2013 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  18. tiggers97

    1) No one is arguing about wanting bazookas and high-explosives. Those ARE dangerous and unusual weapons. These rifles made of metal and plastic instead of the older metal and wood, like what was used in WWI and WWII. A lot of technological progress has been made in the last century, and guns came along with it.
    2) Is it just me or am I the only one offended that she compares her ban to the 2A as the same as banning child-pornography to the 1A?
    3) Her "we let the American public keep 2,271 firearms" is a joke. To exempt something implies that it is something that would other-words be banned. Reading thru her "exempt" list and I see a large majority of lever, pump and bolt-action rifles. Things NOT considered "assault weapons" in her own legislation. In other words, it would be like banning large trucks, but making an exemption for Geo metros and Toyota corollas..

    March 15, 2013 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  19. FrankinSD

    I, personally, am very grateful for the lecture from the Junior Senator from the State of Confusion. Otherwise, I wouldn't know that the First and Fourth Amendments are absolute and unlimited. That must be why we see glossy coffee table books full of child porn everywhere and why there are no sobriety check points in America like there are elsewhere. It's good to know that child pornographers and drunk drivers have a defender in the Senate.

    March 15, 2013 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
  20. Nash

    You people amaze me. The AR 15 was NOT used at Sandy Hook. A sheriff on scene has said this himself. Oh, but all of you must have been there so the sheriff must be wrong.
    I dont know what make believe world some of you live in but the world is a crazy place, always have been, always will be. There will always be bad people trying to harm others with, or without a gun. I like my chances taking out a shooter who is trying to harm me or loved ones with a gun on my side. At least I have a chance to defend myself. An IED on the other hand, I dont stand a chance. By the way, just so you people know you can't buy an RPG at a gun show. You can buy a RPG on the black market though. You know what that means? THE BAD PEOPLE WILL ALWAYS HAVE THEIR GUNS! So stop trying to take them from the good ones. Wake up out of your make believe world and welcome to reality!

    March 15, 2013 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
  21. Daniel Hoffman

    Cruz asked Feinstein if she thought the First and Fourth Amendments should be violated too? He hadn't thought about it much because the SCOTUS has placed limits on them too.

    The tape of the interaction was on CNN last night. It's certainly on YouTube. Cruz forgot he was not speaking to a layperson and the Freshman Senator was reminded by Feinstein that she had been on the Senate Judiciary Committee for 20 years.

    March 15, 2013 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
  22. Anonymous

    he's like mccarthy because .... ???? he's worred about communist infiltrators????? lol.

    March 15, 2013 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  23. John N Florida

    They couldn't stand him any more in Texas so they shipped him off to Washington.
    Thanks Texas. From now on, please recycle your own TRASH!

    March 15, 2013 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  24. georgex9

    As a Texan I am ashamed of our recently elected senator.
    Ted Cruz is making an disingenuous comparison to the right to bear arms and the right to books as though these rights are completely unlimited. This is dishonest to say the least.
    He made another such accusation when questioning Chuck Hagel for defense secretary when he wanted Hagel to explain a unfounded rumor that a "Friends of Hamas" group deposited $200,000 in Hagel's account. There is no evidence that that group even exists and Cruz, in the same statement, admitted that he didn't have ANY EVIDENCE OF THIS.
    Cruz is a loose cannon and an embarrassment to the state.

    March 15, 2013 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  25. Big Pete

    In this Leftist socio-Commie movement,I to plead and request for a McCarthy just when we really need one in this times.

    March 15, 2013 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
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