The Senate Judiciary Committee voted along party lines on Thursday to advance Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s Assault Weapons Ban of 2013 to a full Senate vote, with 10 Democrats voting for the ban and eight Republicans voting no.
A majority of Americans support reinstating the assault weapons ban, which was also popular with the electorate when it was allowed to expire in 2004. Despite a majority of Americans and major mainstream law enforcement, medical and religious organizations supporting the legislation, the media commonly reports that the “controversial” measure has virtually no chance of passing Congress. This line of reasoning mirrors the NRA, and its chief apologist in Congress, freshman Texas Republican Senator Ted Cruz — who says an assault weapons ban violates the Constitution, even though there already was one in place for 10 years.
The debate hit a boiling point on Thursday as Cruz, acting as a modern-day Joe McCarthy, tried to lecture Senator Feinstein on the Second Amendment and the Constitution by trying to make a ridiculous comparison between limiting access to military-style assault weapons and banning certain books.
Cruz was making a convoluted point about the Fourth Amendment’s protections against “unreasonable searches and seizures” and how banning certain books — similar to banning assault weapons — could be deemed “outside the protection of the Bill of Rights.” Just as he seemed ready to cue the black helicopters and jackbooted government thugs coming after your AR-15 and your copy of Wayne LaPierre’s latest book, Feinstein fired back.
“I’m not a sixth-grader,” Feinstein snapped. “Senator, I’ve been on this committee for 20 years. I was a mayor for nine years. I walked in, I saw people shot. I’ve looked at bodies that have been shot with these weapons. I’ve seen the bullets that implode. In Sandy Hook, youngsters were dismembered. Look, there are other weapons. I’m not a lawyer, but after 20 years I’ve been up close and personal to the Constitution. I have great respect for it. This doesn’t mean that weapons of war… and the Heller decision clearly points out three exceptions, two of which are pertinent here. It’s fine you want to lecture me on the Constitution. I appreciate it. Just know I’ve been here for a long time. I’ve passed on a number of bills. I’ve studied the Constitution myself. I’m reasonably well educated and I thank you for the lecture. Incidentally, this does not prohibit — you use the word prohibit — 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 use to kill in close combat? I don’t think so. So I come from a different place then you do. I respect your views. I ask you to respect my views.”