Senate deal finally a bill. Is it as bad as we thought?

(AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

While a small group in the Senate already hammered out the broad strokes of a gun control bill, the details were jamming things up just a bit. For some, it was a hopeful sign that a deal wouldn’t really be struck and there’s be no bill after all.

Well, so much for that hope.

The text of the bill was released Monday night, and shortly afterwards, an initial vote was held and the bill got 64 votes in support.

A bipartisan group of senators overcame some last-minute hurdles and released legislative text Tuesday on a narrow set of provisions to combat gun violence, including state funding to implement “red flag” laws and enhanced background checks.

“Today, we finalized bipartisan, commonsense legislation to protect America’s children, keep our schools safe, and reduce the threat of violence across our country,” Sens. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., and John Cornyn, R-Texas, said in a joint statement along with Sens. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., and Thom Tillis, R-N.C.

“Our legislation will save lives and will not infringe on any law-abiding American’s Second Amendment rights. We look forward to earning broad, bipartisan support and passing our commonsense legislation into law,” they added.

Except that it does.

Among the many measures is an expanded background check process for anyone under the age of 21. It requires the NICS to reach out to juvenile records divisions of whatever state the buyer is from to look for criminal records there. It also provides an additional 10 days of waiting if there is something…off during that search.

This means certain people will be subjected to longer delays. A right delayed is a right denied, an infringement on those individuals’ Second Amendment rights. Not only that, but I don’t see how a check can be “instant” if they’re having to contact individual states and wait for information.

And you’d think members of the Senate would understand that.

Of course, that’s far from everything included. At least some of the healthcare measures look more like things some lawmakers wanted but couldn’t get passed in other bills; things like telemedicine for Medicaid recipients, etc.

The bill also redefines gun dealers, removing language that defines one as someone who sells firearms “with the principal objective of livelihood and profit” and replaces it with “‘to predominantly earn a profit.” How they’ll determine someone’s motivation is beyond me.

Another thing the bill includes is an anti-straw purchase provision, because it’s not like that’s been the law for decades already or anything.

Then, of course, we have the so-called boyfriend loophole, which the bill seeks to close.

One of the big sticking points is defining just who is in a dating relationship and who isn’t. The current definition of domestic violence uses a definition that’s pretty objective, but this would go outside of that. So how does the Senate bill try to define such a relationship?

‘‘(B) Whether a relationship constitutes a dating relationship under subparagraph (A) shall be determined based on consideration of—

‘‘(i) the length of the relationship; ‘

‘(ii) the nature of the relationship; and

‘‘(iii) the frequency and type of interaction between the individuals involved in the relationship.

‘‘(C) A casual acquaintanceship or ordinary fraternization in a business or social context does not constitute a dating relationship under subparagraph (A).’’.

That’s not the worst definition I’ve seen, but it still requires a subjective assessment of a relationship to determine just where it qualifies or not. As I noted on Monday, people don’t “date” like they used to.

The one upside is that this doesn’t try to retroactively punish people for what they did before the law.

Unsurprisingly, this went over about like you’d expect with the NRA.

From the first linked story:

The National Rifle Association quickly announced its opposition to the bill, arguing in a Tuesday statement that the legislation “does little to truly address violent crime while opening the door to unnecessary burdens on the exercise of Second Amendment freedom by law-abiding gun owners.”

And make no mistake. That’s precisely what it will do.

One upside to the bill is that it includes language for a school safety clearing house–the exact same measure that Sen. Chuck Schumer did everything he could to kill. That’s a decent measure that probably should pass.

The problem is that now it’s attached to this travesty of a bill.

Yes, yes, I know, it’s not as bad as it could be. There’s no “assault weapon ban” and while those under 21 may be delayed, they’re still able to buy any category of long gun the rest of us can purchase, so yeah, it could be worse.

But “it could be worse” is hardly the standard any of us should be pleased with. We can acknowledge it, but we should also make sure our respective Senate delegations know how we feel about it.