The assault weapons ban passed the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday in a vote along party lines–-but not without a fight.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein, Democrat of California, and gun control advocate, had a fierce clash with newcomer Ted Cruz, a freshman senator from Texas. The two had a tense debate that caught the interest of the Web.
The tea party partisan wanted to know from the senior senator if she would “deem it consistent with the Bill of Rights” to apply the same guidelines of banning weapons in the Second Amendment to the banning of books in the First Amendment?
Directing his question at Feinstein, he asked, "Would she consider it constitutional for Congress to specify that the First Amendment shall apply only to the following books and shall not apply to the books that Congress has deemed outside the protection of the Bill of Rights?"
Feinstein, a Stanford graduate, appeared visibly annoyed and responded, “I’m not a sixth grader. Senator, I’ve been on this committee for 20 years.” She described herself as “reasonably well educated,” adding, "I'm not a lawyer, but after 20 years, I've been up close and personal with the Constitution. I have great respect for it. ... So, it's fine you want to lecture me on the Constitution. I appreciate it. Just know I've been here for a long time."
But Feinstein stood her ground on the bill. She said, “In Sandy Hook, youngsters were dismembered [from assault weapons]."
She added, “It exempts 2,271 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 to use in close combat? I don’t think so. … I respect your views. I ask that you respect my views. “
Feinstein also reminded Cruz of her first-hand experience with gun violence. The San Francisco native was a member of the city government in 1978 when Mayor George Moscone and supervisor Harvey Milk were assassinated by political rival Dan White.
Feinstein was the one to discover Milk’s body, and as president of the Board of Supervisors, announced their deaths at a press conference later that day. (Yes, if this sounds familiar, it's because the events were portrayed in the award-winning movie, “Milk.”)