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. Name

    Cruz who? That's his real issue – a nobody!

    March 15, 2013 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  2. max33334445555

    it only sounds arrogant to a person that really doesnt understand 😉

    March 15, 2013 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  3. Carl Wilhelm

    By the way, AR-15 stands for the company that first marketed Eugene Stoners design : Armalite Company. AR does not mean assault rifle it means model 15 Armalite. AR-15s are not assault rifles, refer to The National Firearns Act of 1934 which forbids civilian ownership of automatic weapons.

    March 15, 2013 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
  4. boyscout

    These types of weapons are only needed to be accessed by honest decent people as their government becomes over-bearing and attempts to dictate how we may live our lives and tries to micro-manage us. Then we will need these weapons and in fact have a right to bear them in our bill of rights as the second ammendment of the constitution of the United States of America. We the people reserve the right to engage in this privelage as free people. Yes there is way to much crime. This crime comes from an inbalance in opportunities or acheiveable success. It also comes from lack of education (specifically in anger management, financial management, conflict resolution). Also it is on people to (in spite of differences) get along and honor each others rights to peace, happiness, and the right to persue success equally.

    March 15, 2013 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  5. Don Olson

    Sen. Cruz asked a very thoughtful and well reasoned quesiton of Feinstein, and she failed to answer it, replying instead with condescending invective, emotion, and evasion. He pointed out that the words "right of the people" appear in the first, second, and fourth amendments, and asked if Feinstein would be OK with limititing Americans' free speech and search-and-seizure rights as well as their right to bear arms. In typical liberal fashion she changed the subject and attacked him instead of answering. Pathetic!

    March 15, 2013 11:27 am at 11:27 am |
  6. Robin Jones

    Pure hypocrisy. Feinstein's own arrogance is the second biggest in the Senate, exceeded only by that of Barbara Boxer.

    March 15, 2013 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  7. ST

    I was wondering why Sarah Palin supported Ted Cruz at the first place. I have now realised they have a lot in common.

    March 15, 2013 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  8. ART

    Thank You Texas for releaseing this plague that is Ted Cruz upon the United States of America. This man scares me he is a lunatic and absolutely one of the most backward thinking morons I have seen In quite some time.

    March 15, 2013 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  9. Jim

    I am amused by the suggestion that the President is going to help build support among lawmakers. Sure, he will give the usual speeches, and he will assure everyone that he "will not rest" until gun control is adopted, and then he will go golfing. He has no persuasive abilities with Republicans in the House, and his words have become irrelevant to them. He has burned too many people by pretending to be charming with them, and they have (most of them) finally learned.

    March 15, 2013 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  10. ellid

    @Boyscout –

    Whatever world you live in, please stay there, since the paranoid, un-American dystopia you describe bears zero resemblance to where I live.

    March 15, 2013 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  11. Joe Plumber

    Don't worry gun nuts – this will all blow over.... until the next school massacre and then we will pretend to do something again. But don't worry.

    March 15, 2013 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  12. thomas

    The nra loves their guns so much that they want to make love to them. this is a great idea and they should they can there fore but the gun up there butts and pull the trigger. that would be a good thing

    March 15, 2013 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  13. Laurie in Spokane

    Well, he DID sound arrogant and condescending. Nothing wrong in how Feinstein responded. And, her sentiments are right on the money.

    March 15, 2013 11:36 am at 11:36 am |
  14. Adam

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

    Oh yeah? Whose definition? Yours??? They are a modern sporting rifle, NOT an assault rifle. "Assault weapon" is an umbrella gun-grabber term made up by the media and politicians. Assault rifle is a select fire weapon capable of full-auto and/or burst fire. Educate yourself before you go blathering off with a bunch of recycled nonsense that you read from other uninformed gun-grabbers.

    March 15, 2013 11:36 am at 11:36 am |
  15. Matt

    I don't know why Feinstein and other anti gun people ramp up the arguments to bazookas. Bazookas are in the heavily regulated title 2 weapons category and can't even be purchased at a gun store specializing in title 2 weapons. Title 2 meaning short barreled rifles, shotguns, silencers, legal machine guns and other types such as cane guns. Destructive devices fall in to this category as well. However, applications for destructive devices constitute less than one percent of the already low numbers of applications for title 2 weapons. Most are silencers followed by short barreled rifles and shotguns.

    She should also note that the last title 2 weapon used in a crime was in 1988.

    March 15, 2013 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  16. Anonymous

    AR stands for "Armalite Rifle" which is the first company that made it shortly before the Vietnam War. All rifles available to the civilian populations currently are semi-automatic, meaning with each trigger pull, 1 round is fired. There is already a lot of laws regarding the owning of fully automatic and burst fire (3 rds per trigger squeeze). To say that an AR-15 is faster then any other weapon is completely bull. It all boils down to how fast someone can pull the trigger repeatedly.

    March 15, 2013 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  17. Sly

    Cruz is the politician who suggested Texas should seceed from the Union if a black man is elected President, so somehow I don't think he really understands our Constitution.

    Besides, this guy is an illegal alien – what would he know about the US Constitution.

    Go back to your country, Cruz. Or, better yet, take all of Texas with you – America is tired of all the problems Texan's have caused this nation – from Bush to Enron, it is a just a corrupt state.

    March 15, 2013 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  18. BanGuns2013

    Her bill allows too many guns to be left out, over 2100 different guns I believe. We must ban all weapons in every city across our nation and allow police cars to have built in scanners like the TSA vans do and scan the public at will to find weapons on gangsters or people intending to commit murder. Also drones can be equipped with technology to find them in people houses along with many other things.

    I believe we will be able to find and destroy over 85% of the guns in public hands over a 15 year period if we can outlaw all of them now. I see now reason other than special circumstances such as ranchers where anyone needs the right to own a firearm.

    March 15, 2013 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
  19. Jeff

    Would have been nice for the CNN 'blogger' to include Cruz's comments that if we can alter parts of the 2nd Amendment, can we alter the 1st to say that certain books should not be allowed. Feinstein wants to tinker with our Bill of Rights to suit her wants but liberals would scream bloody murder, as they should, if their favorite Amendments were altered.

    March 15, 2013 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
  20. ray

    Dianne who? That's the problem a nobody.

    March 15, 2013 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  21. Unit34AHunter

    Feinstein demonstrates nothing but hypocrisy when she calls others arrogant.

    March 15, 2013 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  22. Obama

    Hey Feinstein, if you can't stand the heat get back into the kitchen.

    March 15, 2013 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  23. TheObserver

    How many guns have to be in Americans hands until we can't really say "It's a free country" anymore? How many of you believe that America's solution to our gun problem (and it is a huge problem) involves more guns? Is your definition of freedom, liberty, safety, and security just a big bunch of people all pointing guns at each other while they go about their day? Statistically we have more gun crime mostly because we have more guns, and more availability of guns. Considering this, do you still think more guns is the answer to the problem?

    Also, all you AR-15 and Bushmaster fans, what are you, pansies? Why stop the argument with assault rifles? Why don't you make a push to get M-16's out there? How about some nice M-4's? How about missile launchers and RPG's? Why not? You want military instruments of killing to be available with the rest of the hunting and home defense weapons, so where's you're push? I think if every American had an M-16, a sash of grenades, and an Mac-10, I think we'd have a safer nation, don't you?

    Damn, even just writing it down feels stupid.

    March 15, 2013 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  24. Morris

    Fienstien can go pound sand!

    March 15, 2013 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  25. Sniffit

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

    You do realize that Cruz tried to demonize Hagel by claiming that Hagel got paid for speeches by groups that sympathize wth muslim jihadis and that Hagel's own sympathies for such groups led him to make negative statements about the Jewish lobby...don't you? He even demanded that Hagel produce records from such groups, even though Hagel has no right or authority to demand that those groups produce records for him.

    That aside, the comparison is apt. Cruz is an opportunist demagogue who will demagogue with whatever is at hand. McCarthy did likewise.

    March 15, 2013 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
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