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CNN "State of the Union with Candy Crowley" Transcript: Gun Control

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CROWLEY: Eight years after the first assault weapons ban expired, Senator Dianne Feinstein introduced a second, tougher one. She stood in front of an arsenal of weapon, flanked by cops, victims of gun violence and Washington religious leaders in a news conference that opened with a prayer. A, for presentation, prospects for passage are slim.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

FEINSTEIN: Can you win this? Only if you stand up. If America rises up. If people care enough to call every member of the house and every member of the senate, and say, we have had enough. (END VIDEO CLIP)

CROWLEY: Feinstein's bill would ban the sale of more than 150 types of rifles, shotguns handguns and ammunition magazines holding more than ten rounds.

The measure was criticized as too both much and useless.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RICHARD FELDMAN, PRESIDENT, INDEPENDENT FIREARMS OWNERS ASSOCIATION: This bill doesn't ban the guns. There are 35 million of them in existence. There are over 100 million high-capacity magazines out there.

What is going to be the impact on the future ban of those magazines and guns on criminals or crazy people? Zero. Nada.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CROWLEY: For any one who achieved or acquired one the banned weapons legally before the law would go into effect, the only difference would be when they go to transfer or sell the weapon, the person getting would have to undergo a background check.

Next up, Senator Dianne Feinstein.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CROWLEY: Both sides of the gun debate played out yesterday. In Washington, D.C. thousands of demonstrators took to the National Mall, demanding tougher gun control laws, including a ban on assault style rifles and high capacity magazines. And in suburban Atlanta, potential gun buyers lined up outside a local gun show to stock up in case congress does approve some new restrictions.

Joining me now, Senator Dianne Feinstein.

CROWLEY: Thanks, Senator, for being here and what's been a really busy weekend -- will be a really busy week for you with these hearings opening up.

I wanted to play you, first, something that Senator Joe Manchin, Democrat from West Virginia, a man you know very well, said to us last Sunday.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JOE MANCHIN, (D) WEST VIRGINIA: Assault weapon stand alone ban -- on just guns alone will not in the political reality that we have today will go anywhere. It has to be comprehensive, Candy. And that's what I tried to tell the vice president. And I've told everybody. It has to be a comprehensive approach.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CROWLEY: So you have Senator Manchin saying, look, this has to be more than a gun ban. We have -- Senator Harry Reid, the majority leader in the Senate saying I just don't think this is going to pass. And he doesn't want to bring up something and waste time if it doesn't pass. The president's first major speech out of Washington this term is going to be on immigration.

So what I'm wondering is whether you feel -- this has been a rhetorical priority. I wonder if it's a legislative priority.

FEINSTEIN: Well, let me say this. This has always been an uphill fight. This has never been easy. This is the hardest of the hard.

Now, will it only be assault weapons? No, most likely. There will be a package put together. If assault weapons is left out of the package, and I'm a member of the judiciary, number two in seniority. I've been assured by the majority leader I will be able to do it as an amendment on the floor, which is the way I did it in 1993. So, that doesn't particularly bother me.

What does bother me is I have seen weapons spawned and grown and now in the hands of younger and younger people over these years. I think you reach a point, as I said earlier, where enough is enough. Do military style assault weapons belong on the streets of our cities? And the answer, according to the United States Conference of Mayors, according to major chiefs of police, according to the largest police organization in the world, is absolutely no.

So we do have support, don't mistake it.

CROWLEY: But would you concede that in the United States Senate, this -- the assault weapons ban in particular is a very tough road, because it's not just Republicans, as you know you have fellow Democrats.

FEINSTEIN; I conceded, because the NRA is venal. They come after you, they put together large amounts of money to defeat you. They did this in '93. And they intend to continue it. Well, the opposite can take place...

CROWLEY: Are they venal, or do they just disagree with you?

I mean, is the NRA venal, or do they disagree with you on a matter of policy?

FEINSTEIN: The NRA has become an institution of gun manufacturers. This morning on the front page of The New York Times, I was reading about their program now to provide weapons and training for youngsters from eight years old to 15 years old. And this is supported by the gun manufacturers.

In other words, here is a whole new group of people that we can get these weapons to. They just don't happen be adults, they're children.

CROWLEY: Children with guns, certainly in terms of sport and hunting is not a new phenomenon in a lot of places. The NRA would say, listen, we train them. We want to make sure people who have guns know how to use them. But I wanted to ask about the NRA. And in particular, I wanted to just sort of -- this is kind of -- this is Wayne LaPierre, as you know, is one of those who is going to fight you tooth and nail on this. And a couple of things he said over time.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WAYNE LAPIERRE, VICE PRESIDENT, NRA: Politicians pass laws for gun-free school zones. In doing so, they tell every insane killer in America, that schools are the safest place to inflict maximum mayhem with minimum risk.

Politicians have no business and no authority denying us the right, the ability, and the moral imperative to protect ourselves and our loved ones from harm.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CROWLEY: Wayne LaPierre is coming before the judiciary committee. He'll be one of the witnesses. What are you going to ask him?

FEINSTEIN: Oh, I don't know at this time. But you can be sure I will have some questions for him.

I actually debated him I think on CNN and other channels back in '93 and '94. I know his position. It has never changed.

What has changed in this country is the continued use of these weapons. When we had the first mass shooting in 1966, '67, the Texas bell tower, I thought this was just an aberration. But it hasn't been, and the malls, the theaters, the businesses, the law practices, and now the schools.

For me, Sandy Hook was an epiphany. Sandy Hook I realized that a woman who had guns, who kept them I assume in a respectable area, she also had a son and that son is quite possibly was mentally disturbed. He got a very powerful weapon. And he went out with that weapon and he killed 5 and 6 and 7-year-olds I understand with 3 to 11 bullets in each of their bodies with a weapon that had the velocity of which could really rip these bodies apart. That should not be able to happen.

Now this was a young man, he apparently knew weapons. He knew how to use weapons. He chose to use them against the most defenseless.

Here's a question, does government have an obligation to protect those children? I believe we do. I believe we do.

CROWLEY: Just a quick question on this, because I want to ask on a couple other subjects, and that is could you see your way clear to a school security program or to saying listen, I do think there maybe be should be armed guards at some of these schools?

FEINSTEIN: Of course. And there are. One-third of the schools in America today have school guards. There were two at Columbine. They couldn't get to the shooter. And that is the problem with this thing. Having school guards really isn't the whole answer. The more you have these weapons, these military style weapons that with the single stock of the AR-15 can be made fully automatic, the minute you have it in the Sandy Hook killer's hands, you have a devastating weapon.

CROWLEY: Let me move you to a different subject, simply because it is now bubbling up. I am surprised at the number of people -- the Speaker of the House, president of the United States, some folks on the Senate that say, hey, we're pretty close to an immigration bill.

Give me a sense of where the Senate is on that, where congress is on the immigration bill?

FEINSTEIN: Well, it's my understanding from Senator Schumer, that we will have a statement of principles hopefully within the next week. What I pick up in the Senate is that increasingly people understand that a pathway to citizenship is an important part of any immigration reform proposal. It is my belief there he will be an immigration reform proposal.

My part of this is the agricultural part. And I've been meeting with workers through the farm workers union as well as all the growers organizations, to put together two parts of the program, one is a permanent program for farmers that need to use people 24/7, like dairy and other things, as well as a guest worker program.

CROWLEY: I just have to quickly ask you a very political question and show you a quick, what we call a screen grab. And what our viewers are going to see, what you are going to see, is a picture of President Obama and outgoing Secretary of State Hillary Clinton being interviewed together on 60 Minutes. This has captured the 2016 group a lot.

If you are Joe Biden thinking about a run for the presidency and you see that the president for the first time, with someone other than his wife is sitting down for a chat on TV, what do you think that says about where the president is thinking about 2016?

FEINSTEIN: Well, I'm not concerned with that as I am with what Secretary Clinton is thinking about 2016. I think she's accomplished an incredible record and really has really unbridled popularity. She has a total knowledge of all of the issues. She has served in the senate. She has been first lady...

CROWLEY: You're a fan.

FEINSTEIN: I am a fan.

CROWLEY: You want her to run?

FEINSTEIN: I would love it if she would run.

CROWLEY: Senator Dianne Feinstein, thank you so much.

FEINSTEIN: Thank you very much.

CROWLEY: We appreciate your time.


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