In an interview with CBS' Face the Nation on Sunday, Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein (CA) told host John Dickerson that there was no law that could have prevented Stephen Paddock from carrying out his horrific act in Las Vegas last Sunday.
Feinstein came on in part to discuss the "bump stock" legislation she has proposed which would ban the device Paddock attached to twelve of the guns found in his hotel room. Bump stocks, or bump fire stocks, allow a semi-automatic weapon to fire more rapidly. Asked if any Republicans had come out in support of the bill, Feinstein said no but that a few have expressed "interest."
"We have Republican interest," said Feinstein. "I have nobody lined up, we have 38 co-sponsors, they're all Democratic. We've had individuals that have indicated an interest and particularly for a hearing."
When asked about the NRA saying on Thursday that they supported "additional regulations" on bump fire stocks, Feinstein called it "a step forward" and "appreciated," but she wanted more than just regulations; she wanted a law passed by Congress that cannot be overridden by the next president.
"Regulations aren't going to do it. We need a law," she said. "It can't be changed by another president. Right now we're seeing one president change actions ... of a president that came before him, and that would happen in this area. And I hope that Americans will step up and say, 'Enough is enough. Congress, do something.'"
Dickerson then noted the surge in sales of bump stocks, presumably in anticipation of a ban or heightened restrictions, but Feinstein turned the conversation to the enigma of Paddock.
"This is a well-to-do man," she said. "He wasn't mentally ill. He wasn't a criminal. He wasn't a juvenile. He wasn't a gang banger. And he was able to buy 40 weapons over a period of time, have 12 bump stocks, line them up, break through two windows in his hotel suite, and take aim at ... over a thousand people at a concert. And this was such a cross-section of America that it really struck at every one of us that this could happen to you. And we want to stop it."
However, when asked if there is any law that could have stopped it, Feinstein admitted that there isn't.
"Could there have been any law passed that would've stopped it?" asked Dickerson.
"No, he passed background checks registering for handguns and other weapons on multiple occasions," said Feinstein.
Dickerson said that some pro-Second Amendment advocates believe that the Democrats are calling for a ban on semi-automatic weapons, which Feinstein shot down, saying, "Well, that's just plain wrong. This is written in clean English, you can take a look at it. I'll send a copy of it. It's a two page bill. I'll send a copy of it to anyone who calls our office, and you can look at it yourself. It does not take anyone's gun."
The host then offered "the other side" of the discussion, those calling for a ban on semi-automatic weapons, which Feinstein admitted she agreed with "to a great extent." She also condemned the "terrible" concealed carry reciprocity bill that some Republicans are pushing. Here's the exchange (transcript via CBS News):
DICKERSON: From the other side, those who would like to restrict guns in America, who hear a bill targeted as you've described it narrowly at this idea – at bump fire stocks – and say, "The only way to stop this kind of situation in America is to ban these kinds of semi-automatic weapons, and weapons that can fire with rapidity, and anything short of that is insufficient." What do you say to those people?
DIANNE FEINSTEIN: I agree with them to a great extent. What I don't – because, as you know, I did the assault weapons legislation in 1993, which was law of the land for 10 years. So I believe, I mean I've watched this thing from the Texas bell tower to today, in schools, in businesses, in workplaces. No one appears to be safe anywhere.
JOHN DICKERSON: Let me ask your – get your thoughts on another piece of legislation. The NRA has mentioned, in response to this shooting, they've talked about passing the concealed carry reciprocity, which essentially allows somebody who has a concealed carry permit in one state to carry it throughout all other states the way, say, a driver's license would work. What's your opinion of that bill which is in the Senate?
DIANNE FEINSTEIN: Well, my opinion of that bill is it's terrible. We want every American to feel comfortable packing a concealed weapon around the country? I represent 40 million Californians, and I can say without hesitation Californians do not want concealed carry.
On Thursday, the NRA's Wayne LaPierre and Chris Cox surprised gun control advocates by issuing a statement in support of "additional regulations" on bump stocks.
"In Las Vegas, reports indicate that certain devices were used to modify the firearms involved," they continued. "Despite the fact that the Obama administration approved the sale of bump fire stocks on at least two occasions, the National Rifle Association is calling on the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (BATFE) to immediately review whether these devices comply with federal law. The NRA believes that devices designed to allow semi-automatic rifles to function like fully-automatic rifles should be subject to additional regulations."
On Sunday, Cox clarified that while the NRA supports more regulations on bump stocks, it does not support an outright ban.
"We don’t believe that bans have ever worked on anything. What we have said has been very clear — that if something transfers a semiautomatic to function like a fully automatic, then it ought to be regulated differently," Cox told Fox News Sunday.