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. Bob

    Arrogant? Really? This from a senator who tells millions of Americans she knows how they should live their lives better than they do"?

    March 15, 2013 09:33 am at 9:33 am |
  2. yardlady

    The very first time I heard Ted Cruz speak I thought he was an arrogant jerk. He kept raising his voice and talked over his
    opponent and basically said nothing. He is a radical Republican who thinks the American people can own any kind of gun
    for whatever reason. Being a freshman in congress he won't last long with a big mouth that says nothing important.

    March 15, 2013 09:33 am at 9:33 am |
  3. walkshaunt

    It starts with so-called AWBs – then they will come back for the rest later. Same with taxes. It will never be enough.

    March 15, 2013 09:35 am at 9:35 am |
  4. Dean

    Information regarding the definition of assault weapon for use in the discussion - An assault weapon is most commonly defined as a semi-automatic firearm possessing certain cosmetic, ergonomic, or construction features similar to those of military firearms. Semi-automatic firearms fire one bullet (round) each time the trigger is pulled; the spent cartridge case is ejected and another cartridge is loaded into the chamber, without requiring the manual operation of a bolt handle, a lever, or a sliding handgrip. An assault weapon has a detachable magazine, in conjunction with one, two, or more other features such as a pistol grip, a folding or collapsing stock, a flash suppressor, or a bayonet lug.[1] Most assault weapons are rifles, but pistols or shotguns may also fall under the definition(s) or be specified by name.

    More terminology to help make clear what certain terms mean - The term "assault weapon" is sometimes conflated with the term "assault rifle" which refers only to military rifles capable of selective fire, including fully automatic fire and/or burst fire.[11] In the United States, fully automatic firearms are heavily restricted and regulated by federal laws, state, and local laws.

    The term "assault weapon" is also used to refer to some weapons that are used by the military for offensive operations in battle, such as portable rocket launchers used for anti-tank and bunker destruction purposes and various other weapons using flammable munitions and/or explosives.

    March 15, 2013 09:36 am at 9:36 am |
  5. merlinfire

    When you have a congresswoman (Feinstein) who thinks the Constitution is more of a set of guidelines rather than the HIGHEST LAW in the land that it is, I expect other congreesmen/women to correct her. If that's arrogant, then I say we need more arrogance.

    March 15, 2013 09:36 am at 9:36 am |
  6. K

    They convieniently left out the part of her response about not being a 6 year old where she has "seen the effect of bullets that implode".

    March 15, 2013 09:37 am at 9:37 am |
  7. wireknob

    Yet Feinstein finally admitted that she does apply a double standard to the Bill of Rights; one standard for the rights she approves of and another standard for those that do no comport with her personal opinions.

    March 15, 2013 09:38 am at 9:38 am |
  8. Blah blah the wheel's off your trailer

    Show me a conservative who's not afraid of aliens, Big Foot greezly bears or the boogy man and I'll show you a brave conservative. Show me a conservative who is not willing to cling to guns and I'll show you a brave conservative. Right wing COWARDS.

    March 15, 2013 09:39 am at 9:39 am |
  9. Bereal

    She goes by only feeling no real thought about this. Criminals never follow rules, if we look back with the first ban did it help? No diffrent impact so this knee jerk reaction will not help anymore then it did back then. Instead of gun control why dont they focus on the economy, thats where the real problems are. Not guns it takes someone to pull the trigger anyhow. Good thing Cruz stated what he did maybe he taught her something, and she just did not like how it was taught.

    March 15, 2013 09:39 am at 9:39 am |
  10. marty

    Mr. Cruz, please resign.

    March 15, 2013 09:40 am at 9:40 am |
  11. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    I'm trying to think what other "Right" in the Bill of Rights would necessitate limiting citizens with delusions of Rambo from purchasing a bazooka.....
    Nope. Can't come up with any other Right that would necessitate limiting the freedom to purchase a weapon that would shred a 6 year-old to unrecognizable bits.
    Pardon the graphic mental image but some people really need to understand that and let their common sense kick in. If you're that paranoid about a home break-in that would necessitate you owning something akin to military weaponsry than maybe you need to move out of that neighborhood...or take the medication that's supposed to keep your paranoia in check.

    March 15, 2013 09:41 am at 9:41 am |
  12. Al

    We have a new McCarthy. It seems senator Cruz know better than anyone else what the constitution allows and doesn't allow. McCarthy clord himself in patriotism and Cruz in the Constutuion. There is nothing wrong with debate, it's what our democratic system is about but Senator Cruz has made it his mission to get noticed by making outrageous comments with a basis in fact or law. He insinuated wrong doing by former Senator Hagel without any evidence now he goes after another senator again insinuating constitutional violation. I applaud senators McCain and Feinstein for calling him out. We went through a very nasty period in American history under McCarthy and if we don't stop this person now we will repeat that climate again. A good Senator gets recognition and respect not by chastising his colleagues but by thoughtfully presenting his/her views with reason based on facts and law not hype that appeals to the far reaches of one party or another.

    March 15, 2013 09:42 am at 9:42 am |
  13. Rudy NYC


    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.
    "Almost any firearm"? That is totally false. The bill lists nearly 1500 makes and models of weapons that are specifically excluded. The AR-15 isn't one of them. It's on the list of roughly 500 that are specifically included.

    March 15, 2013 09:42 am at 9:42 am |
  14. JAS

    That's okay Diane, those of us who live in Texas have some common sense think his arrogant too

    March 15, 2013 09:42 am at 9:42 am |
  15. Ralph

    About time she received more than an High School education.

    March 15, 2013 09:42 am at 9:42 am |
  16. Derek

    That is a joke that woman telling millions of people what they can or can't have based on her opinion, and she is calling Cruz arrogant. Why doesn't Cruz stoop to the democrats level and cry racism like all the democrats do when an ethnic democrat is criticized? Don't worry it is rhetorical he is not a liberal.

    March 15, 2013 09:42 am at 9:42 am |
  17. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    "akin to military weaponry then maybe you need to move out of that neighborhood..."

    March 15, 2013 09:43 am at 9:43 am |
  18. mike

    People are making an attempt to compare assault riffles to bazookas? You'll notice, Cruz isn't the one who made this comparison. He compared assualt rifles to BOOKS.

    If bazooka's were being banned do ANY of you really think Cruz would attempt to stop that legislation? Of course not. Which is why the comoparison to a bazooka is a fallacy.

    Assault rifles are not the problem. The people who use them for evil are. Look no further than Chicago. Strict gun laws and look at the amount of shootings. A "ban" does not address the problem. It does address ideology. One that believes government knows best. Of course, this comes at the cost of freedom..... a little bit at a time.

    March 15, 2013 09:44 am at 9:44 am |
  19. Obahtr

    Yardladu, you can own any gun you want it's called the second amendment, get a clue.

    March 15, 2013 09:45 am at 9:45 am |
  20. Brad

    I read the article above, the only arrogance I see is coming from Feinstein herself. She brings rocket launchers, and ordinance into the argument – why? No one can legally own a bazooka, nor is anyone asking to. Is this woman really this stupid?? The sad part is, I am a democrat. And the only people sticking up for my right to own and bear arms are republicans.

    I will tell you this much. If republicans are the only ones supporting my rights, I will vote for them regardless of how appalling I may find their other ideals.

    Feinstein is a tyrant, and should be treated as such.

    March 15, 2013 09:46 am at 9:46 am |
  21. vbscript2

    Maybe now she has a taste of how the American public feels about her actions. She should have felt patronized. She's patronizing the American public and trying to pass unconstitutional laws. Maybe she should go back to sixth grade and read the Constitution and her own oath of office again. Contrary to popular belief, the Constitutional limits on the power of the federal government aren't optional. They are not suggestions that can be ignored for issues Ms. Feinstein 'feels strongly about.'

    March 15, 2013 09:48 am at 9:48 am |
  22. WillB

    Nothing arrogant about it. He should have asked her about her plans to repeal citizens rights under the 4th and the 5th Amendments as well. Those are also parts of her proposed law. It is not just the 2nd. The real question is where does she stop. After gutting the 2nd, 4th and 5th, will she simply see her "success" and justification to do away with more? The only thing arrogrant was her response, "I am a grown women..........period."

    March 15, 2013 09:49 am at 9:49 am |
  23. Jocho Johnson

    SHE is an arrogant see u next tuesday herself

    March 15, 2013 09:49 am at 9:49 am |
  24. vbscript2

    ""Almost any firearm"? That is totally false. The bill lists nearly 1500 makes and models of weapons that are specifically excluded. The AR-15 isn't one of them. It's on the list of roughly 500 that are specifically included."

    Hint: If it has to be written in such as way that 1,500 models need to be specifically excluded, then it's written too broadly. This should be common sense.

    March 15, 2013 09:49 am at 9:49 am |
  25. vbscript2

    At Brad: Thank you for being reasonable. We need more reasonable people like you on the left who actually understand that the Constitutional rights of Americans shouldn't be violated.

    March 15, 2013 09:52 am at 9:52 am |
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