Politics, government and public life for Southern California

Senator Dianne Feinstein urges US mayors to support renewed gun control

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Senator Dianne Feinstein is poised to introduce a bill that would renew the federal ban on assault weapons.

Next week, California’s senior U.S. Senator, Democrat Dianne Feinstein, will introduce a bill that would renew the federal ban on assault weapons. Feinstein was the author of the 1994 law that Congress allowed to expire after a decade.

Today, she called on U.S. mayors for support, saying it’s more difficult now than at any time in her four decades of public service to pass what she called “reasonable gun regulation.”

Feinstein, who became mayor of San Francisco after Mayor George Moscone was gunned down in 1978, spoke at the winter meeting of the U.S. Conference of Mayors.

Feinstein warned that gun organizations will do "whatever they can do" to prevent regulation of firearms in this country, calling that "really too bad."

She said she’d give each mayor a list of the 150 guns she proposes to ban. Feinstein said the bill will include money for voluntary gun buy-back programs – and she assured the mayors that no one would confiscate guns in private hands.


Dianne Feinstein takes assault weapons ban to the people with petition

Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) takes to Senate floor

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U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) says her proposed assault weapons ban isn't about taking away anyone's constitutional right to bear arms.

Democratic U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein of California has promised to re-introduce an assault weapons ban when the new Congress is sworn in. But she's not waiting until January to push for public support.

Senator Feinstein has sent out an e-mail blast, asking supporters to sign a petition to back her ban on assault weapons. Feinstein says she wants to show "how much public support is behind" such a ban.

Feinstein says it isn't about taking away anyone's constitutional right to bear arms: "This is about removing weapons of war from our businesses, movie theaters and schools."

Feinstein was the author of a previous assault weapons ban passed by Congress in 1993. It expired in 2004. She says the new bill will be a stronger version of the earlier law, proposing to ban the sale, importation, transfer or possession of new assault weapons. It will also ban high-capacity clips, magazines, and strips that hold more than 10 bullets. 


NRA bashing from California's Congressional Democrats

U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) said Friday that the NRA's proposal "is really nothing more than a distraction."

After the National Rifle Association called Friday for armed police officers at every local school, California members of Congress were swift to react to the proposal.

Democratic U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein didn’t dismiss the NRA proposal out of hand. "If school districts want to hire armed security guards," she said, "I support that. It’s a decision each school district should make." Feinstein added that one-in-three public schools in America already have armed security on staff.

Feinstein again called for a renewal of her assault weapons ban. "The NRA’s blanket call to arm our schools is really nothing more than a distraction," she said. "It’s a delay tactic."

Democrats on the House side were equally critical. Grace Napolitano of Norwalk said it was "just like the NRA. Sell more guns. Arm everybody." West L.A.'s Henry Waxman sait it was "very cynical for the NRA to blame everybody but themselves for the gun disasters, the killing that we’ve been seeing in recent years." And Janice Hahn of Carson said the NRA’s solution "is so out of touch with reality and so out of touch with what the American people want right now."

Hahn supports the assault weapons ban, but wants to do something about the guns already out there. She sent a letter to House Speaker John Boehner and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi asking that $200 million in any fiscal cliff deal be set aside to buy back assault weapons: "I want to get the ones that are already out there and get them off the streets."

Waxman also supports Feinstein’s assault weapons ban, and a ban on magazine clips for those weapons. He also suggests a look at our culture’s “glorification of violence” and an examination of our mental health system.

Mental health is the top issue for Congresswoman Napolitano. She says families need education to help identify those with mental health problems and the resources to treat them. She says families should be able "to have the funding to pay for the expensive psychiatric treatment for those who need it."

Most Republican House members have been silent on the issue, but Congressman Buck McKeon of Santa Clarita issued a statement saying there should be a “thorough dissection of our country’s mental health and family services.” He also suggests looking at “problematic” enforcement issues with current gun laws.

And a spokesman for Irvine’s John Campbell says the Congressman doesn’t support a “single solution approach to solving what is clearly a multi-faceted problem,” but does believe we should have a national debate about the root causes of the violence at Newtown.


Sen. Dianne Feinstein turns thumbs down to Bin Laden movie 'Zero Dark Thirty'

Zero Dark Thirty

Still from the film "Zero Dark Thirty" starring Jessica Chastain.

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Senator Dianne Feinstein joins other elected officials in criticizing the film "Zero Dark Thirty." File: Feinstein (D-CA) questions witnesses at a hearing on Capitol Hill on March 30, 2011 in Washington, D.C.

The movie "Zero Dark Thirty" has been getting rave reviews and has been named movie of the year by the New York Film Critics Circle. But a trio of U.S. senators, including California Democrat Dianne Feinstein, calls it a "dangerous combination" of fact and fiction.

Feinstein, who chairs the Senate Intelligence Committee, joined Republican colleague John McCain of Arizona and fellow Democrat Carl Levin of Michigan in putting their complaints in a letter to Sony Pictures, which released the movie. ("Zero Dark Thirty" is now playing in Los Angeles area theaters.)

The three call the film "grossly inaccurate and misleading in its suggestion that torture resulted in information" that led to finding Osama bin Laden. They acknowledge the film is fiction, but note that it opens with the words "based on first-hand accounts of actual events."


Senator Dianne Feinstein not getting Judiciary chair; Leahy isn't moving

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U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein looked to be in line for head of Judiciary Committee, but instead she'll remain chairwoman of the Intelligence Committee.

In musical chairs, somebody doesn't get to sit down.

It was looking as though California Democrat Dianne Feinstein would move over to chair the Senate Judicary Committee. Monday's death of Hawaii Senator Daniel Inouye meant the top job at the powerful Appropriations Committee would have to be filled.

It was widely expected that Patrick Leahy of Vermont would take that job, leaving open the Judiciary chairmanship. But on Wednesday, "The Hill" confirmed Leahy is passing up the Appropriations job. (Maryland's Barbara Mikulski now seems to be in line.)

Instead, Leahy is staying on as the chair of Judiciary. Which means Feinstein doesn't get that post. But that also means she doesn't have to vacate the top job at the Senate Intelligence Committee.

Senator Feinstein issued a statement that said: “I’m very happy where I am.  I will continue to serve as a senior member of the Judiciary Committee and support the leadership of Chairman Leahy, and I’m delighted to continue to chair the Intelligence Committee and provide important oversight to the 16 agencies of our intelligence community.”