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Thursday, December 8, 2016

It’s only fitting that the NRA’s biggest tool in Florida is a funeral director.

He is Rep. Dennis Baxley, an Ocala Republican who does whatever the gun lobby wants.

Three days after the slaughter of first-graders in Newtown, CT, Baxley made national headlines by suggesting that weapons should be carried by employees at public schools.

Said he: “In our zealousness to protect people from harm, we’ve created all these gun-free zones, and what we’ve inadvertently done is we’ve made them a target. A helpless target is exactly what a deranged person is looking for where they cannot be stopped.”

So that’s the problem. It’s not crackpots with Bushmasters, it’s those darn gun-free zones.

And since a brain-free zone usually encircles Florida’s Legislature, count on some eager-beaver lawmaker to follow up on Baxley’s idea of arming teachers, coaches, maybe even cafeteria workers.

You might be wondering what kind of a person would advocate saturating our schools with loaded firearms. How about a grandfather of eight who lists his hobbies as fishing, reading and “listening to gospel music”?

Rock on, Dennis. Nearer my Glock to thee!

Although Baxley has been on the boards of child-protection groups in Marion County, the massacre of those innocent children in Connecticut failed to shake his faith in a guns-for-all philosophy.

He’s been a longtime darling of the NRA. In 2004 the group gave him an A-plus rating and a “Defender of Freedom” award, and four years later it pumped $35,000 into his election campaign, according to Mother Jones magazine.

In return, Baxley has been as obedient and loyal as a puppy. He’s responsible for Florida’s half-baked “Stand Your Ground” law, now a go-to legal defense for any dope dealer or gangbanger who shoots down a rival on the street.

The law has been so problematic for prosecutors that Gov. Rick Scott last year formed a taskforce to review it. Baxley, of course, was given a prime seat.

As head of the House Judiciary Committee, he’s in a position to snuff proposed changes to the “Stand Your Ground” statute. Similarly, any sane legislation that might limit access to weapons and mass ammo clips of the sort used at Sandy Hook Elementary would have to get Baxley’s approval, which will never happen.

He’s way too tight with Marion Hammer, Florida’s top gun lobbyist and a cloud-mate of that gibbering NRA wingnut, Wayne LaPierre. Both Hammer and LaPierre trade on the myth that they speak for America’s gun owners, when they don’t even speak for the group’s membership.