Dianne Feinstein on The Second Amendment

Last Updated : Sep 17, 2012

Summary

Senator Feinstein is a strong supporter of gun control to curtail violence. She has remained one of the leaders in Congress pushing for a permanent assault weapons ban, and has blamed the level of violence in gangs and mass shootings on the ability of people to obtain those weapons. She has supported the Brady Bill, legislation to expel students who bring weapons to schools, and increasing mandatory minimum punishments.

Throughout her career, Senator Feinstein has opposed the Protection in Lawful Commerce Act, opposed the Supreme Court decision to overturn the DC gun ban, and opposed concealed carry reciprocity legislation. She has also supported international treaties on gun regulation.

That Brady Bill

In November of 1993, Senator Feinstein supported the legislation known as the "Brady Bill." Specifically, she supported the provisions of the law instituting the waiting period to purchase a firearm. She pointed to waiting periods already instituted in California and other states and asserted that those provisions lowered violence there. She asserted that the people of America, in overwhelming numbers, want both Houses of Congress to take action that keeps weapons out of the hands of those who are most apt to commit crime, but present law does not facilitate the adequate screening of gun purchasers. She supported the waiting period to give a chance for these background checks to be carried out.

During the speech to support the Brady Bill, Senator Feinstein opposed sunset provisions of the waiting period, arguing that an instant background check would not be ready in 5 years and sunsetting the waiting period in that time would create a situation in which criminals could again purchase weapons.

Since the passage of the Brady Bill, Senator Feinstein has co-sponsored numerous pieces of legislation to close the loophole for the gun show background checks. 

Assault Weapons Ban

In 1993, Senator Feinstein sponsored an assault weapons ban that would not only ban the manufacture and sale of the weapons, but also the possession of the weapons. It defines as semi-automatic weapon by listing several models that would be banned and then providing a broader definition which included a detachable magazine combined with at least two other factors, including a pistol grip and flash suppressor.

In 2004, when the Assault Weapons ban ended, Senator Feinstein pushed for continuing the ban. She stated on the Senate floor that in our society, we are always going to have some people who are prone to grievance killing and in her view the assault weapon has become the weapon of choice for grievance killers. She stated that the assault weapons ban was about the ability of children to learn, play, and grow without the fear that someone such as Dylan Klebold or Eric Harris would show up at Columbine High School with assault weapons and fire until the school is literally littered with bodies.

Protection in Lawful Commerce

In 2005, Senator Feinstein opposed and voted against the Protection of Lawful Commerce Act. In a floor speech, the Senator stated that the legislation had nothing to do with protecting lawful commerce, but rather protected one segment of industry against the lawful interests of our States in remedying and deterring negligent conduct. She continued by asserting that the bill pretends to be part of the long-ranging and important debate about gun regulation, but in truth the legislation is a simple giveaway to one industry--the gun lobby. Senator Feinstein also asserted that the legislationdid littl more than demonstrat that the NRA had become a political powerhouse, unconcerned with the rights of a majority of Americans who want prudent controls over firearms and who want to maintain their basic legal right in our civil law system.

The DC Gun Ban

In 2007, Senator Feinstein strongly opposed the Supreme Court decision finding the DC gun ban illegal. She stated that although she knew the ruling was coming, she was viscerally affected by it. In a series of press releases and speeches, Senator Feinstein recalled how Justice Roberts and Justice Alito both promised to respect precedence, and in her opinion they were violating their confirmation promises by over ruling previous judgements. 

Within those statements, Senator Feinstein asserted that she believed that Second Amendment relates to the keeping of a militia, implying that it was not a personal right. She also stated that the ruling would endanger the citizens of the District, the Government employees who work here, our elected officials, and those who visit DC.

Firearms in Public Parks

In 2008, Senator Feinstein joined a few other Representatives in opposing legislation to allow firearms to be carried in national parks, as long as doing so would comply with state laws. In a letter to the Department of Interior, the representatives asserted that permitting loaded firearms to be carried or used within our national parks or wildlife refuges would be a radical, unprecedented change that would likely upset the delicate balance that exists between wildlife and park visitors in these areas. The letter also stated that allowing loaded and accessible weapons in national parks would create a dangerous environment for the millions of American families who annually visit our national parks expecting a safe and enjoyable experience – not loaded firearms and stray bullets.

In a press statement, Senator Feinstein asserted that millions of families and young children enjoy the majesty of these incomparable destinations every year and allowing loaded weapons would only mar the experience and bring unnecessary danger to our national parks.

Inter-American Convention

In 2009, Senator Feinstein participated in a letter sent to President Obama asking him to support the Inter-American Convention Against Illegal Arms Trafficking. She stated that the Convention helps members of the Organization of American States to combat the illicit trade in firearms that fuels drug violence, terrorism and organized crime, and that it requires signatories to criminalize the illegal manufacture and sale of weapons and establishes a marking and licensing system for the export and import of firearms.

Concealed Carry Reciprocity

In July of 2009, Senator Feinstein was vocal in her opposition to legislation to enact state reciprocity in concealed carry legislation. She stated taht the legislation was reckless, irresponsible, and will lead to more weapons and more violence on the streets of our nation. She added that  concealed weapons laws that work in rural states may not be suitable in urban areas. What’s good for Iowa or Alaska may not be good for California or New York.

Additional Legislation

In 1993, Senator Feinstein supported an amendment put forth by Senator Biden to require all people who were getting a firearms license to provide a photogragh and a fingerprint with that license.

The US allows weapons to be imported from other countries for sporting purposes. In 1997, Senator Feinstein noted that the ATF had not been consistently applying the standards within the 1968 Gun Control Act. She called for President Clinton to use his executive authority to temporarily suspend the importation of these weapons and to direct the ATF to use the traditional sporting purposes standard in determining whether any semiautomatic assault weapons should be approved for importation to the United States.

Just a year later, in 1998, Senator Feinstein supported legislaiton to require a device for gun storage and safety. This device could be a gun safe, or a device that prevents the firearm from being operated without first deactivating or removing it, or a device that prevents the operation of the firearm by anyone not having access to the device. 

In May of 2007, Senator Feinstein introduced legislation to regulate the transfer and possession of .50 BMG caliber sniper rifles, which she stated have extraordinary firepower and range. She asserted that the weapons are capable of bringing down airliners and helicopters that are taking off or landing, puncturing pressurized chemical storage facilities, and penetrating light armored personnel vehicles and protective limousines.

 

Assault Weapons Ban

In November of 1993, Senator Feinstein introduced legislation to place a ban on assault firearms. This legislation included not only a ban on purchasing the weapons, but also a ban on owning them. Along with providing a definition of an assault weapon, the legislation lists a number of firearms that would be illegal under the legislation.

 

Firearms, Photographs, and Fingerprints

In November of 1993, Senator Feinstein co-sponsored an amendment put forth by Senator Biden to require fingerprints and a photograph for each firearms license.

 

Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1993

In November of 1993, Senator Feinstein spoke on the Senate floor in support of legislation to make it illegal to sell a handgun or ammunition to minors and make it illegal for that minor to possess a weapon unless under supervision of an adult.

 

The Brady Handgun Bill

In November of 1993, Senator Feinstein spoke on the Senate floor in support of the Brady Handgun Bill. She specifically spoke in opposition to any measures that would lower the effectiveness of the Brady Bill. She also spoke in support of the waiting periods.

 

Zero Tolerance for Weapons at School

In March of 1994, Senator Feinstein spoke in support of legislation to institute a zero tolerance policy for students that take a weapon to school. Any student that does this would be expelled.

 

Federal Gang Violence Act of 1997

In January of 1997, Senator Feinstein spoke in support of the Federal Gang Violence Act of 1997. She noted the provisions of the legislation and stated that the stronger penalties were necessary.

 

Importation of Semi-Automatic Weapons

In September of 1997, Senator Feinstein spoke on the Senate floor discussing the importation of semi-automatic weapons into the country. She called upon President Clinton to use executive authority to temporarily suspend the importation of those weapons and redefine sporting weapons.

 

Gun Storage and Safety Device Act

In 1998, Senator Feinstein co-sponsored legislation to require a secure device in the form of something that had to be overcome or removed before the firearm could be used.

 

Reinstitution of the Assault Weapons Ban

In March of 2004, Senator Feinstein spoke on the Senate floor during debate about the Protection of Lawful Commerce Act. During that time, she introduced legislation to re-enact the 1994 Assault Weapons Ban.

 

Protection in Lawful Commerce

In July of 2005, Senator Feinstein spoke on the Senate floor in opposition to the Protection in Lawful Commerce Act. She stated that the legislation exempted firearms manufactureres from the basic laws that all manufacturers are required to follow.

 

Hold on Gun Legislation

In September of 2006, Senator Feinstein released a press statement noting a hold that she had placed on recent legislation which she stated would make it more difficult for the ATF to deal with gun laws. 

 

Sniper Rifle Regulation

In May of 2007, Senator Feinstein released a press statement noting legislation that she was introducing to regulate .50 caliber sniper rifles.

 

The DC Gun Ban

In November of 2007, when the Supreme Court decided to review the DC handgun ban, Senator Feinstein released a statement noting her concern.

In June of 2008, Senator Feinstein released a press statement noting her opposition to the Supreme Court decision that ruled the DC gun ban unconstitutional. 

In September of 2008, Senator Feinstein released another statement noting her opposition to legislation being passed through congress that would repeal common sense gun regulation.

In February of 2009, Senator Feinstein released a press statement noting a floor speech she had made in opposition to an amendment to remove the restrictions on DC gun ownership.

 

Firearms in National Parks

In February of 2008, Senator Feinstein released a press statement noting a letter she sent to the Secretary of the Interior in opposition to the possibility of allowing firearms in national parks.

Later in February of 2008, Senator Feinstein released another press statement noting her opposition to the possibility of allowing firearms in national parks.

In April of 2008, Senator Feinstein released a press statement noting statements that she had made on the Senate floor in opposition to loosening the restrictions on firearms in national parks.

In December of 2008, Senator Feinstein released a press statement noting her opposition to the Bush Administrations actions in loosening those restrictions.

 

Convention Against Illegal Arms Trafficking

In March of 2009, Senator Feinstein released a press statement noting letters that she had sent to President Obama asking him to support the Inter-American Convention on Illegal Arms Trafficking.

 

Gun Show Background Check Act of 2009

 

Concealed Carry Amendment

In July of 2009, Senator Feinstein released a press statement noting her opposition to an amendment which would allow concealed carry reciprocity.

Later in the month, Senator Feinstein released another press statement noting a floor speech she made at the defeat of the legislation.

 

Felons and Firearms

In July of 2009, Senator Feinstein released a press statement noting legislation that she was introducing to prevent felons convicted of violent crimes from owning a firearm.

 

Reaction to Aurora, Colorado Shooting

In July of 2012, Senator Feinstein appeared on Fox News and discussed the recent shooting in Aurora, Colorado. She noted her support for banning assault weapons and her view that this would have prevented a number of people from losing their lives in mass shootings.

 

Voting Record

Amendment - Gun carry on Amtrak

In April of 2009, the Senate voted on an amendment to ensure that law abiding Amtrak passengers are allowed to securely transport firearms in their checked baggage. Dianne Feinstein voted against the amendment to allow citizens to transport firearms on Amtrak.

Dianne Feinstein voted against the amendment to allow citizens to transport firearms on Amtrak.

Amendment - Gun carry on Amtrak

In 2009, the Senate voted on an amendment concerning carrying guns in checked baggage on Amtrak. The amendments read : To ensure that law abiding Amtrak passengers are allowed to securely transport firearms in their checked baggage. Each time, the amendments got the support of most or all Republicans with about half the Democrats supporting the legislation. The vote was passed 63-35. Dianne Feinstein voted against allowing citizens to transport firearms on Amtrak.

Dianne Feinstein voted against allowing citizens to transport firearms on Amtrak.

Amendment - US aid and gun registration

In September 2007, the US Senate voted on an amendment submitted by Senator Vitter of Louisiana. The amendment sought to prohibit the use of funds by international organizations, agencies, and entities that require the registration of, or taxes guns owned by citizens of the United States. The amendment got the support of almost all Republicans and about 2/3 of the Democrats to pass in a 81-10 vote. Dianne Feinstein voted against the amendment to prevent funds from being used by organizations that would require registration of firearms.

Dianne Feinstein voted against the amendment to prevent funds from being used by organizations that would require registration of firearms.

The Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act

In 2005, the US Senate voted on S 397 - The Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act. The act sought to protect gun manufacturers, retailers, and suppliers from being sued for crimes or accidents involving the weapons they sold or manufactured. The legislation came to a vote in July of 2005 and passed the Senate with a vote of 65-31. Dianne Feinstein cast a "No Vote"

The Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act

The Senate attempted to pass Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act in 2004. The bill got very little support, failing in an 8-90 vote. Dianne Feinstein voted against the the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act.

Dianne Feinstein voted against the the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act.

Amendment - Cops carrying firearms

As an amendment to the Lawful Commerce Act, in March of 2004 the Senate voted on an amendment to exempt qualified current and former law enforcement officers from State laws prohibiting the carrying of concealed handguns. The amendment was agreed to 91-8. Dianne Feinstein voted in favor of the amendment to exempt qualified current and former law enforcement officers from State laws prohibiting the carrying of concealed handguns.

Dianne Feinstein voted in favor of the amendment to exempt qualified current and former law enforcement officers from State laws prohibiting the carrying of concealed handguns.

Amendment - Background Checks

In an amendment to the lawful commerce act, the Senate voted to require criminal background checks on all firearms transactions occurring at events that provide a venue for the sale, offer for sale, transfer, or exchange of firearms, and for other purposes. The amendment was agreed to 53-46 with most Democrats supporting the amemdment and most Republicans oppossed to it. Dianne Feinstein voted in favor of the amendment to require background checks at all events.

Dianne Feinstein voted in favor of the amendment to require background checks at all events.

Amendment - Assoult Weapons Ban

In an amendment to the lawful commerce act, the Senate voted on a 10 year extension to the assault weapons ban. The amendment was agreed to in a 52-47 vote. Dianne Feinstein voted in favor of the 10 year extension of the assault weapons ban.

Dianne Feinstein voted in favor of the 10 year extension of the assault weapons ban.

Amendment - Child Safety Devices

An amendment to the lawful commerce act was the to require the provision of a child safety device in connection with the transfer of a handgun and to provide safety standards for child safety devices. The amendment passed 70-27. Dianne Feinstein voted in favor of the amendment to require child safety devices.

Dianne Feinstein voted in favor of the amendment to require child safety devices.

Domestic Violence Offender Gun Ban

In 1997, the Domestic Violence Offender Gun Ban passed as an amendment to the Omnibus spending bill for that year. The act banned shipment, transport, ownership and use of guns or ammunition by individuals convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence, or who are under a restraining (protection) order for domestic abuse in all 50 states. The act also makes it unlawful to knowingly sell or give a firearm or ammunition to such persons. Dianne Feinstein voted in favor of the legislation containing the Domestic Violence Offender Gun Ban.

Dianne Feinstein voted in favor of the legislation containing the Domestic Violence Offender Gun Ban.

Gun Free School Zones Act

In 1997, the Gun Free School Zone Act passed as part of the Omnibus spending bill for that year. The act banned the possession of a firearm while in a school zone. The text of the legislation also contained a number of findings about the dangers of firearms to the nation. It was passed in the same legislation as the Domestic Violence Offender Ban. Dianne Feinstein voted in favor of the Gun Free School Zones Act.

Dianne Feinstein voted in favor of the Gun Free School Zones Act.

Brady Handgun Violence Protection Act

The Brady Handgun Violence Protection Act was passed in response to an attack on President Reagan in which Secretary Brady was injured. The 1993 law required gun purchasers to pass a background check to ensure that they were not a felon or did not fall into a number of other prohibitive classes. The measure passed the senate 63-36. Dianne Feinstein voted in favor of the Brady Handgun Violence Protection Act.

Dianne Feinstein voted in favor of the Brady Handgun Violence Protection Act.

 

Sponsored and Cosponsored Legislation

Session-112; Bill Number-S 32; Large Capacity Ammunition Feeding Device Act - Cosponsor

Amends the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act to prohibit: (1) the transfer or possession of a large capacity ammunition feeding device, except for its lawful possession within the United States on or before the date of this Act's enactment; and (2) the importation or bringing into the United States of such a device. Sets forth exceptions to such ban. Sets penalties for violations. Requires a large capacity ammunition feeding device manufactured after this Act's enactment to be identified by a serial number that clearly shows that the device was manufactured after enactment and such other identification as the Attorney General may prescribe.

Session-112; Bill Number-S 35; Gun Show Background Check Act of 2011 - Cosponsor

Amends the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act to require registration of gun show promoters and to set forth the responsibilities of promoters, licensees, and other transferors. Provides that if any part of a firearm transaction takes place at a gun show, each licensed importer, manufacturer, and dealer who transfers one or more firearms to a person who is not licensed shall, within 10 days after the transfer, submit a report of the transfer to the Attorney General. Sets forth penalties for violations. Grants the Attorney General authority to enter the place of business of any gun show promoter and any place where a gun show is held, during business hours and without a showing of reasonable cause or a warrant, for purposes of examining records and the inventory of licensees conducting business to determine compliance with this Act. Increases penalties for: (1) serious record-keeping violations by licensees; and (2) violations of criminal background check requirements.

Session-111; Bill Number-S 843; Gun Show Background Check Act of 2009 - Cosponsor

Amends the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act to require registration of gun show promoters and to set forth the responsibilities of promoters, licensees, and other transferors. Provides that if any part of a firearm transaction takes place at a gun show, each licensed importer, manufacturer, and dealer who transfers one or more firearms to a person who is not licensed shall, within 10 days after the transfer, submit a report of the transfer to the Attorney General. Sets forth penalties for violations. Grants the Attorney General authority to enter the place of business of any gun show promoter and any place where a gun show is held, during business hours and without a showing of reasonable cause or a warrant, for purposes of examining records and the inventory of licensees conducting business to determine compliance with this Act. Increases penalties for: (1) serious record-keeping violations by licensees; and (2) violations of criminal background check requirements.

Session-112; Bill Number-S 34; Denying Firearms and Explosives to Dangerous Terrorists Act of 2011 - Cosponsor

Amends the federal criminal code to authorize the Attorney General to deny the transfer of a firearm or the issuance of a firearms or explosives license or permit (or revoke such license or permit) if the Attorney General: (1) determines that the transferee is known (or appropriately suspected) to be engaged in terrorism or has provided material support or resources for terrorism; and (2) has a reasonable belief that the transferee may use a firearm in connection with terrorism. Allows any individual whose firearms or explosives license application has been denied to bring legal action to challenge the denial. Extends the prohibition against the sale or distribution of firearms or explosives to include individuals whom the Attorney General has determined to be engaged in terrorist activities. Imposes criminal penalties on individuals engaged in terrorist activities who smuggle or knowingly bring firearms into the United States.Authorizes the Attorney General to withhold information in firearms and explosives license denial revocation lawsuits and from employers if the Attorney General determines that the disclosure of such information would likely compromise national security.

Session-111; Bill Number-S 843; Gun Show Background Check Act of 2009 - Cosponsor

Amends the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act to require registration of gun show promoters and to set forth the responsibilities of promoters, licensees, and other transferors. Provides that if any part of a firearm transaction takes place at a gun show, each licensed importer, manufacturer, and dealer who transfers one or more firearms to a person who is not licensed shall, within 10 days after the transfer, submit a report of the transfer to the Attorney General. Sets forth penalties for violations. Grants the Attorney General authority to enter the place of business of any gun show promoter and any place where a gun show is held, during business hours and without a showing of reasonable cause or a warrant, for purposes of examining records and the inventory of licensees conducting business to determine compliance with this Act. Increases penalties for: (1) serious record-keeping violations by licensees; and (2) violations of criminal background check requirements.

Session-110; Bill Number-S 2577; Gun Show Background Check Act of 2008 - Cosponsor

Amends the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act to require registration of gun show promoters and to set forth the responsibilities of promoters, licensees, and other transferors.Provides that if any part of a firearm transaction takes place at a gun show, each licensed importer, manufacturer, and dealer who transfers one or more firearms to a person who is not licensed shall, within ten days after the transfer, submit a report of the transfer to the Attorney General. Sets forth penalties for violations.Grants the Attorney General authority to enter the place of business of any gun show promoter and any place where a gun show is held, during business hours and without a showing of reasonable cause or a warrant, for purposes of examining records and the inventory of licensees conducting business to determine compliance with this Act.Increases penalties for: (1) serious record-keeping violations by licensees; and (2) violations of criminal background check requirements.

Session-110; Bill Number-S 1331; Long-Range Sniper Rifle Safety Act of 2007 - Prime Sponsor

A bill to regulate .50 BMG caliber sniper rifles.

Session-109; Bill Number-S 620; Assault Weapons Ban Reauthorization Act of 2005 - Prime Sponsor

A bill to reinstate the Public Safety and Recreational Firearms Use Protection Act.

Session-104; Bill Number-S 1612; Increased Mandatory Minimums - Cosponsor

This law would have revised Federal criminal code provisions regarding using or carrying a firearm, and using or carrying a firearm while in possession of armor piercing ammunition capable of being fired in that firearm, during and in relation to a crime of violence or drug trafficking crime to make penalties under such provisions applicable to possessing a firearm under such circumstances. Directs the United States Sentencing Commission: (1) to review and, if appropriate, amend the sentencing guidelines and policy statements of the Commission to enhance the sentence of any defendant who discharges a firearm during or in relation to any crime of violence or drug trafficking crime; and (2) in carrying out such provision, to ensure that there is reasonable consistency with other Federal sentencing guidelines, avoid duplicative punishment for substantially the same offense, and take into account any mitigating circumstances that might justify an exception.

Session-110; Bill Number-S 1331; Long-Range Sniper Rifle Safety Act of 2007 - Prime Sponsor

Amends the federal criminal code and the firearms registration provisions of the Internal Revenue Code to classify the .50 BMG caliber sniper rifle as a destructive device. Modifies the definition of "rifle" to include a weapon intended to be fired from a bipod or other support.Directs the Attorney General to implement regulations for notice and registration of .50 BMG caliber sniper rifles as destructive devices and require the registration of unregistered rifles within seven years after the enactment of this Act.

Session-110; Bill Number-S 1316; Firearms by Foreign Convicts Clarification Act of 2007 - Prime Sponsor

A bill to establish and clarify that Congress does not authorize persons convicted of dangerous crimes in foreign courts to freely possess firearms in the United States.

Session-106; Bill Number-S 783; James Guelff Body Armor Act of 2000 - Prime Sponsor

A bill to limit access to body armor by violent felons and to facilitate the donation of Federal surplus body armor to State and local law enforcement agencies.

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