In a starkly partisan 10 to 8 vote, the assault weapons ban authored by Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., cleared the Senate Judiciary Committee Thursday morning with all Democrats voting in favor and all Republicans opposed.
The bill is an effort to revive a 1994 assault weapons ban, also authored by Feinstein, which Congress failed to reauthorized after its expiration in 2004, despite multiple attempts. The current legislation includes a ban on 157 models of assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition clips containing more than 10 bullets.
The legislation now moves to a full Senate vote, where it’s almost sure to meet defeat.
Sen. Ted Cruz, an NRA-endorsed Republican from Texas, seized on Feinstein during Thursday’s hearing, rhetorically asking the committee, “Would she consider it constitutional for Congress to specify that the first amendment shall apply only to the following books—and shall not apply for books outside protection of the bill of rights? Likewise does she think that the amendment for search and seizures shall apply only to following specified individuals and not to the individuals that Congress has deemed outside the bill of rights?”
“I’m not a sixth grader, Senator,” Feinstein fired back. “Congress is in the business of making the law. The Supreme Court interprets the law. If they strike down the law, they strike down the law.”
“Incidentally, this does not prohibit,” Feinstein continued, smacking a table for emphasis, “It exempts 2271 weapons. Isn’t that enough for the people of the United States? Do they need a bazooka? Do they need other high powered weapons military people use to kill in close combat? I don’t think so—and so I come form a different place. I respect your views. I ask you to respect mine.”
Watch Sen. Feinstein and Sen. Cruz’s heated exchange at Thursday’s Senate hearing: