Assault Weapons Ban: Dianne Feinstein the Wrong Person to Lead It


Let me start by saying I am for gun regulation, extensive background checks, the whole nine yards. Even so, senior Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) may not be the woman for the job.

Senator Feinstein has been involved with gun regulation for years. In 1994, she introduced and passed a temporary assault weapons ban, which then expired in 2004. Shortly after the mass murder of 20 children and six teachers in Sandy Hook, Conn., Feinstein proposed a similar bill that would not expire. As expected, the bill has received furious opposition from the National Rifle Association and Republicans set on strict adherence to the Second Amendment. 

Over the last few weeks, Senator Feinstein has been the subject of much critique. For example, on March 7, at the Senate Judiciary Committee meeting, Feinstein adamantly opposed an amendment to her bill that would expand exemptions to military veterans. (The proposed bill already includes an exemption for active military.)

''The problem with expanding this is that, you know, with the advent of PTSD, which I think is a new phenomenon as a product of the Iraq War, it’s not clear how the seller or transferrer of a firearm covered by this bill would verify that an individual was a member, or a veteran, and that there was no impairment of that individual with respect to having a weapon like this,'' said Feinstein.   

There are more than a few things wrong with the above statement. First, ''transferer'' is not a word. Second, post-traumatic stress disorder is by no means a “new phenomenon.” It is the unfortunate truth that veterans have been plagued with this psychological disorder for centuries. Third, the diagnosis of psychological disorders such as PTSD is somewhat subjective, and isolating a group based on the possibility that they may or may not be suffering from a psychological disorder is questionable. Needless to say, Senator Feinstein’s statement regarding PTSD has been met by outrage from the veteran community.

“It is insane and offensive to think we need to be singled out as some new phenomenon. Veterans have been killing themselves at a record number over the past ten years. That, unfortunately, is the result of PTSD. Veterans will take their own life before going on a rampage or mass shooting. The statistics are there and they are easy to see and understand,” said veteran Daniel Hebert.

On Thursday, the Senate Judiciary approved the assault weapons ban (10-8). The ban will now face the senate where it is expected to fail. Before the vote, Senator Feinstein lashed out at the much younger, tea party-backed Junior Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) who asked if she felt her legislation was consistent with the Bill of Rights. “I am not a sixth grader,” said Feinstein.

"Is this not enough for the people of the United States? Do they need a bazooka?" she asked. In fact, Senator Feinstein is not a sixth grader. The senior senator is 79, leading many to question whether her old age is inhibiting her performance.

It is expected that Feinstein will face many more questions regarding the constitutionality of her assault weapons ban and will be faced with many more possible amendments. It is apparent that Senator Feinstein must think more carefully before addressing delicate issues such as PTSD. Lastly, assault weapons are clearly an emotionally charged issue for the senior senator. Perhaps the federal assault weapons ban is best under the control of a senator more detached from the issue at hand.