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. Tim

    Senator Feinstein was asked very straightforward relevant questions, and feels offended by that. How dare someone ask her a question that is uncomfortable for her to answer.

    March 15, 2013 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  2. Morris

    They can have my gun one bullet at atime. When they put term limits on members of Congress like Fiestien then we can talk. Interesting liberals like to call people names, and use hate speech to further their agendas, and they call it free speech, an speech protected under the 1st admend.

    March 15, 2013 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  3. D whitley

    Cant she just retire. I would not mind her debating the issue if she only knew what she was talking about. Who ever is teaching her about guns knows nothing about how they function or ballistics. They are not hold at the hip and spray guns. Lol. Get some new advisors at least. You look like an old fool Dianne

    March 15, 2013 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  4. FactsRBad

    Ted Cruz is an embarrasment to all rational thinking Americans. He is what is wrong with politics today.

    March 15, 2013 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  5. Kay

    I don't want it!!!! There hasn't been one proposal that would prevent sandy hook

    March 15, 2013 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  6. David G

    @ ST
    Yes, it is called STUPIITY

    March 15, 2013 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  7. civilrightist

    Perfectly done Senator Cruz. Feinstein obviously needs a refresher course in US gov't. Feinstein can trample the second amendment & ban semi-automatic firearms NOT used by the military when any US citizen can demand that her mouth be permanantely glued shut and she never be allowed to express her opinion again. Also, I would like to routinely search her body cavities anytime I want and I will also demand that I get to pull her fingernails out slowly for having a differing viewpoint than I. If she can crumple my GOD given second amendment rights than I must demand payment of her 1st, 4th and 8th amendment rights. Fair is fair

    March 15, 2013 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  8. Sniffit

    "They can have my gun one bullet at atime."

    Would you like to be buried or cremated?

    March 15, 2013 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  9. ray

    The woman comes across as a blathering stuttering idiot.When confronted with facts she resorts to the usual liberal tactics of pouting and name calling.Then lets through some drama in there with imploding bullets (what is that?), dismembered children and her fascination with sticking her fingers in bullet holes which totally makes me want to scratch my head.Why would anyone want to put their fingeers in a bullet hole? I think that is not valid advanced life support or at the least tampering with forensic evidence,If you wan t my o[pinion she made the whole thing up.Oh yes California the worlds largest open air insane asylumn and they gave us politicians like her.

    March 15, 2013 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  10. Jon Scally

    This statement is misleading "Despite polls showing that such a prohibition resonates with Americans" – the polls that have been published show that the majority of Americans do not agree with the prohibition so the statement would be more accurate if it said "Despite polls showing that such a prohibition negatively resonates with Americans".

    March 15, 2013 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  11. EldRick

    Feinstein calling someone else arrogant is really the pot calling the kettle black.

    March 15, 2013 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  12. ray

    This extreme left liberal California politician did more to damage her legislationin 2 minutes then the NRA could have done in 2 years.

    March 15, 2013 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  13. Jim Steele

    Cruz's argument was respectful, meaningful and highly accurate! You can't caveat the Constitution to fit you will. If the were creating exceptions to the First or Fourth Amendments, liberals would be going nuts.

    Feinstein is a dinosaur, as most of her colleagues on that panel. Career politicians who act like aristocrats. Time for them to move on!

    March 15, 2013 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  14. hss

    In case you weren't aware of this, the 1st amendment has built in limitations so there is precedent for doing the same with the 2nd amendment.

    March 15, 2013 11:59 am at 11:59 am |
  15. Jim Steele

    Hey CNN, why don't you report what Cruz said as opposed to Feinstein's rebuttal? How about a 'balanced' perspective. Be journalists - not lap dogs of the left!

    March 15, 2013 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  16. Tim Smith

    Her next move was to start crying. Make the bad man go away!!!!

    March 15, 2013 12:01 pm at 12:01 pm |
  17. DJ Reality

    Sen. Feinstein is right she doesn't need a lecture from Cruz. He's never witnessed the horror of gun violence. Why can't anyone answer the question " Why do you need an assault rifle?" It is for killing and killing is a sin. all you so called conservatives have them for that reason. To Kill.

    March 15, 2013 12:01 pm at 12:01 pm |
  18. PressRonPaul

    She needs to go back to her hole and hibernate. She has no clue about the constitution and the bill of rights. Thanks Ted for putting this creature in her place.

    March 15, 2013 12:01 pm at 12:01 pm |
  19. Sandman

    well Observer I'm glad you feel what you are. M-16's are assault rifles, full auto or burst. You can turn your AR into a M-4 if you want to spend the money but it still won't be an assault rifle. Explosives are not available but can be made. The OK bomber did it all home made. This is not gun control but person control. The bill of rights are all supported by the second. You have the right to free speech, and I have the right to ignore you. BUT the whole reason behind the second is that we are able to defend ourselves against a government gone bad. If the government is so great why are they taking right away from the vets? Why has some 'law group' written a paper calling anyone who does not agree with the administration a terrorist?

    March 15, 2013 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  20. Rudy NYC

    Adam wrote:

    "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
    You and everyone who argues the semantics over the defnitions are wasting your breathe. Don't you get it. Your personal opinion and definition of an assault rifle, semi-automatic, or whatever are totally irrelevant. Just like the previous "assault weapons ban", the law will write its' own definition of what is and what is not an "assault weapon".

    The only definition of "assault weapon" will be the definition that is written into the law. Your definition doesn't mean squat.

    March 15, 2013 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  21. Name Rod

    Ted Cruz is a arrogant newbie politician that is dangerous to this country. We need to vote him out of office. He just loves toi hear himself speak.

    March 15, 2013 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |
  22. Sniffit

    "If the were creating exceptions to the First or Fourth Amendments, liberals would be going nuts."

    Newsflash: The rights conveyed by the 1st and 4th are also subject to limitations by the gov't.

    March 15, 2013 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  23. Rider

    Just to show how out of touch, Whinestine is with what is going on. No person, can walk into any store or show and buy a bazooka and take it home. The background check is VERY intensive and the license that must be obtained is VERY expensive.

    Next, check out how Milk was killed? IT was NOT with a Assualt weapon, so the comment that Whinestine makes, leads me to believe that she is in FAVOR of banning ALL weapons, except hers of course.

    Now this week alone, there have been over a thousand young people killed in auto wrecks, across this country. More people die every week, from auto accidents, than from guns. I think the media is spending too much time on the wrong killer of people. It is time to get a hold and restrict who may purchase vehicles and drive them in this country.

    And a majority of the people do not want any type of gun control. That is why the Congress is having such a tough time. I say just pass a law that murder is illegal, and of course the murderers will no longer kill anyone. That will work, as good as banning guns of any type.

    March 15, 2013 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  24. Sandman

    Senator Feinstein has a CA carry permit. So it is fine for her and not for me?

    March 15, 2013 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  25. Senior Trend

    Senator Feinstein accusing anyone of being arrogant is akin to a frog calling someone ugly. Feinstein has always tried to push her irrational fears onto the legislative body, simply out of pure emotion and without giving any thought to the constitutionality of the issue. Senator Cruz did what so many Americans would like to do, call her out on her nonsense! Just because Feinstein was a witness to a horrific event does not give her the right to take retribution on law-abiding Americans.

    March 15, 2013 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
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