In the card game of bridge can a player make a preemptive bid of 3 or 4 of a suit if there has been a previous bid?

Yes. It's called a weak jump overcall and is most commonly used after your opponent opens the bidding (1C by your right-hand opponent, 3H by you). A preemptive overcall can also be made after both opponents have bid (1C on your left, Pass by partner, 1H on your right, 2S by you). Some pairs agree to play weak jump-shifts by responder -- 1C by partner, Pass, 2S by you shows a very weak hand (around 3 to 7 high-card-points) and a 6+-card suit. Other pairs agree that responder's jump is preemptive only in competition (partner opens and your right-hand opponent overcalls or doubles).