Sen. Feinstein: Passing gun-control legislation is ‘hardest’ challenge

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) said Sunday that she will push her assault-weapons ban as an amendment if it doesn’t get into the package that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) allows on the floor.

Reid has said he will allow an open amendment process for gun-control legislation on the Senate floor — which gun-control proponents fear could weaken a final bill — but Feinstein said on CNN’s “State of the Union” Sunday that she would also force a vote on renewing the assault-weapons ban.

She said that’s how it happened in 1993, when the ban was first passed.

“This has always been an uphill fight,” Feinstein said. “This has never been easy — this is the hardest of the hard.”

Feinstein introduced legislation this week to ban assault weapons at a press conference flanked by a group of Democratic senators and the guns they want to ban displayed behind them.

The ban faces a difficult fight in the Senate, as Republicans and a handful of Democrats have said they are opposed to banning assault weapons again.

Feinstein said Sunday that the Newtown, Conn. shootings was an “epiphany” for her, and that the country has reached the point where “enough is enough.”

She accused the National Rifle Association (NRA) of being “an institution of gun manufacturers” and said they their tactics had targeted lawmakers eager for compromise.

“They come after you — they put together large amounts of money to defeat you,” Feinstein said. “They did this in 1993,” when the first assault-weapons ban passed.

The NRA’s CEO Wayne LaPierre will be testifying at Tuesday’s Judiciary Committee hearing on gun control.

Feinstein, who sits on the Judiciary panel, wouldn’t disclose Sunday what she would ask him, only saying: “You can be sure I will have some questions for him.”