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. UDidntBuildThat

    Dare to challenge an elitist liberal whose knows what is best for the rest of us better than we know ourselves. The imperial dictators must not be questioned. Their rules, opinions superceed all of us.
    Dems like to to say they are pro-choice except when it comes to guns. Then they have a right to tell u what you are allowed to do and have.

    March 15, 2013 09:02 am at 9:02 am |
  2. USVET

    Take a close look at Feinstein's legislation. Almost any firearm can fall into the catagories that she established as "assault weapons". Her definition of "Assault Weapon" is contrary to the legally established definition of that type of weapon. The firearms she wants to ban are "Semi-Automatic" and are not part of the legal definition of "Assault Weapon". She has long admitted that she wants to remove firearms from public access. The fact that she wants to allow retired police officers to own the type of weapons she is opposed to because they are trained professionals is clear indication that she doesn't have a clue about firearm ownership or usage. This is in light of the fact that L.A. cops recently used their firearms in a reckless and dangerous manner when they fired 100 rounds at a truck that wasn't even the suspect's vehicle.

    March 15, 2013 09:02 am at 9:02 am |
  3. Ronnie Jackson

    The guys a jerk and if you stand for him deep down your most likely a jerk too even if your against gun restriction.

    March 15, 2013 09:03 am at 9:03 am |
  4. David

    So by Cruz's argument, why restrict people from owning nuclear weapons? We restrict them from owning bazookas? There are limits. What's really ridiculous is the ban being proposed was in effect for 10 years until Bush let it expire in 2004. It's not like this never existed before. Also, as Feinstein said, there are over 2,000 types of weapons allowed, isn't that enough? I would have preferred if the Sandy Hook murderer would have taken longer than 5 minutes to unload 150 rounds. That's what we're talking about here. And if he had to change magazines after 20 rounds instead of 30, a few more kids could have gotten away, or he may have jammed the gun through the process.

    March 15, 2013 09:03 am at 9:03 am |
  5. wade

    Who care what that monster felt? She never answered the question coward that she is and she is the victim? WOW CNN is as biased as they come.

    March 15, 2013 09:10 am at 9:10 am |
  6. angbalti

    The issue of gun control aside and liberal Dictatorships, he was a condescending jerk. He joins a long list of men who including the current demented leader of North Korea in denegrating females by any means necessary.

    March 15, 2013 09:10 am at 9:10 am |
  7. okiejoe

    Senator Cruz seems to feel there should be no limits on personal armaments. Where does it end? If AK47's and AR15's are OK why not M16's and 50 Cal. machine guns? How about your own personal howitzer or Atom bomb? There MUST be some limits.

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

    BlahBlahBlah – you talk about rising up and fighting fire with fire. Have you heard about the consequences of bringing a knife to a gun fight? Personally, I'm all in favor of placing extreme limits on freedom of speech as it applies to the media. They are the biggest abuser of that right and they cause more harm and damage that the average citizen when they abuse it. The 1st Amendment crazies would be livid if that was ever proposed.

    As a military trained small arms expert, I am just a qualified in firarms as any retired police officer, if you don't the count the L.A. cops that have to fire 100 rounds at an innocent truck. Yet, she doesn't want veterans to have the right to own the semi-automatic version of the firearms they were trained on. Remember semi-automatic is by definition not an "ASSAULT WEAPON".

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

    I love how some people act as if the AWB will ban all firearms.

    They seem to be completely oblivious to the fact that the AWB was in effect from 1994-2004. Ten years, during which plenty of guns were manufactured, plenty of guns were bought and sold, and the Constitution survived.

    March 15, 2013 09:14 am at 9:14 am |
  10. Red Pill

    So being called out for having a disregard for the U.S. Constitution is patronizing.
    Be exposed as a subversive is more than patronizing.

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

    USVET: Because having assault weapons in the hands of Vets outside of a combat zone is a very bad idea simply because many of them have PSTD.....

    March 15, 2013 09:17 am at 9:17 am |
  12. Ohreally

    Who care what that monster felt? She never answered the question coward that she is and she is the victim? WOW CNN is as biased as they come." Actually she did. She said NO, but you couldn't be bothered to find that out. I think it's you who is biased.

    March 15, 2013 09:17 am at 9:17 am |
  13. ja

    many lawmakers have their heads in the sand in regard to the guns matter, for the sake of campagin contributions

    March 15, 2013 09:20 am at 9:20 am |
  14. Steve - Texas

    As a Texans... just got these words for America... We are sorry we gave you Cruz... What a jerk. Can you say buyers remorse.

    March 15, 2013 09:21 am at 9:21 am |
  15. rockysfan

    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.
    Somewhat arrogant?! I watched that exchange and condesending, arrogant puppy is more like it. What a joke!

    March 15, 2013 09:22 am at 9:22 am |
  16. tv22

    How dare he challenge her, a Senator for life? Doesn't he know what the Democrats say is what goes now? Who cares about the constitution when you have Dems to ignore it?

    March 15, 2013 09:22 am at 9:22 am |
  17. Boehner and Butthead

    Gun control should not be a left/right issue. Everything doesn't come down to which side of the aisle you're on. There is a problem with guns in this country. There have to be rules, because every nutjob with a wallet thinks they need assault weapons just like the military has. They do NOT need the weapons the military has. If they want the same things then join the military. Or, let's build an armory in your town and let you sign the weapons in and out when they are needed. And after you're certified and trained to use them.

    March 15, 2013 09:23 am at 9:23 am |
  18. Charles

    I don't understand why this is even up for discussion unless they are proposing a Constitutional ammendment. The Constitution affirms the right to bear arms for the well regulated militia. You can't arm a militia with a bunch of handguns and expect them to be successful. Look in general at a basic infantry unit. They are armed with an assault rifle. That is what a militia should be armed with in the event that one would be necessary. Just because a section of the Constitution doesn't fit you, doesn't mean you have the right to for-go it.

    March 15, 2013 09:23 am at 9:23 am |
  19. Heffman

    I love reading posts following such articles. In this case Cruz won the argument because she didn't answer the questions. After watching the video I don't see an attack by Cruz as much as an extremely defensive stance by Feinstein when she could have easily argued against his point. There are many restrictions that have been outlined by the Supreme Court including the very famous inability to yell "fire" in a crowded theater. As there are many limitations currently with 4th amendment rights as they have been destroyed by recent legislation such as the Patriot Act. Such responses by Feinstein would have shown an intelligent and reasonable answer to questions posed by Cruz. Such a response would have been consistent with a true debate on policy from someone who has "been around for a while". However, resorting to a defensive posture and ridiculing the person asking the question by playing the I am worthy to make these decisions for the people" arguments truly looks weak and makes her look emotional without basis for her stance on the issue. Like him or hate him, Cruz simply asked pertinent questions. Heck they were softball questions since she could have easily countered them. IMHO she showed a lack of civil discourse by not answering the questions she SHOULD easily be able to rebut.

    March 15, 2013 09:24 am at 9:24 am |
  20. Jean

    Why don't you report the question Cruz asked her – her non-answer and then when he asked the question again, after her righteous indignation tirade, her simple one word answer. His question and her answer make his point quite nicely about the abuse of the constitution.

    March 15, 2013 09:24 am at 9:24 am |
  21. willy1505

    I'm glad Mrs. Feinstein felt "patronized." Maybe now she will gain an appreciation for the how the American people feel. Patronization is the standard "modus operandi" for those idiots in Washington and I, for one, am sick to death of it. The implication that "We, the people," are only entitled to "hunting guns" is ludicrous. Read the Federalist Papers and you'll understand our Founding Fathers were instructing us to take up arms to be able to defend against a "tyrannical government." We are quickly approaching the point where guns will be needed. The politicians in Washington know this, which is why they are so determined to take them from us. They have seized all the power they can without violating our Constitutionally protected rights so now "those rights" have to go. All I can say to Mrs. Feinstein is, "Good luck with that." This woman has been a disgrace to this once great nation for 20 years. When is "enough enough?"

    March 15, 2013 09:26 am at 9:26 am |
  22. PatheticCNN

    By the way Sen. Dianne Feinstein owns a Gun. You decide whwther she should be on Senate Judiciary Committee or she is a Hypocrite.

    March 15, 2013 09:27 am at 9:27 am |
  23. Shorty

    Feinstein feels patronized? How cruel. Boo-hoo.

    March 15, 2013 09:28 am at 9:28 am |
  24. Rob

    What a person wants and what that person needs are distinctions my 4-year-old daughter can make. Seems Sen. Crus and the rest of the survivalists haven't quite grasped that concept yet. Pretty sad.

    March 15, 2013 09:29 am at 9:29 am |
  25. georgex9

    I am in Texas and 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 09:32 am at 9:32 am |
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