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Friday, August 18, 2017

So God is a gunslinger.

That’s the latest Word from Rep. Matt Gaetz, the Fort Walton Beach, Fla., Republican who’s on a crusade to flood Florida with more firearms.

He’s pushing legislation to allow concealed weapons on state college campuses, and to let permit-holders openly carry their handguns in stores and restaurants. He said these are rights “granted not by government but by God.”

Gaetz’ pronouncement left theologians scratching their heads, because guns aren’t mentioned anywhere in scriptures. Firearms didn’t exist when the Bible was written, and there’s no reference in either testament to “popping a cap in thy heathen ass.”

Anytime a politician starts throwing God’s name around, people get suspicious.

In Gaetz’ case, he’s half of a father-son team that has been pimping tirelessly for the NRA in Tallahassee. His dad, Don, a state senator, also wants more heavy weapons in public places, although he hasn’t gone so far as to credit God with ghostwriting the Second Amendment.

But let’s set aside our well-founded skepticism and consider the remote but intriguing possibility that young Matt isn’t just another programmed hack for the gun lobby. Perhaps he experienced a true religious Visitation.

Maybe one afternoon, while Gaetz was on the shooting range, God appeared personally to him and presented the manuscript of a new, unpublished scripture.

He called it the Book of Glock.

And although it was only the first draft (and there were probably a few typos), young Matt devoured the Book of Glock from beginning to end, and a trembling rapture came upon him.

For God (perhaps) sayeth, “Go ye forth, and let all the people of the world know that their Heavenly Father is totally into guns. Seriously. I beseech all the lambs in my flock to lock and freakin’ load!”

At which point young Matt Gaetz’ jaw would have dropped because he surely didn’t expect to see the Lord Himself show up in full camo driving an old F-150 with a missing tailgate.

“And for the record,” God went on, “my only son, Jesus Christ, feels the same as I do, even though firearms weren’t invented until 13 centuries after he died. Looking back, I wish the Chinese had gotten on that gunpowder thing way sooner, because if Jesus had an AR-15 … well, cancel the crucifixion party, Pontius. Am I right?”

At which point young Matt kicked away the shell casings at his feet, clearing himself a place to kneel.

God, who was on a roll, continued: “So go ye forth and spread the Holy Word that the right to bear arms comes not from thine government but rather from Me, retroactively. And to all those who doubt, ye shall show them the new Book of Glock, once I polish up the ending and put it on a PDF.”

And young Matt, hands clasped devoutly, might have looked up and said, “Lord, give me strength, because they’re ripping me a new one over this guns-on-campus law I’m trying to pass. Even the university presidents and police chiefs are against me.”

Being all-knowing, God was well aware of the controversy.

” ‘Love your enemies.’ That’s straight from Luke, though it’s a bit too warm and fuzzy for me,” He confided.

“One man can’t be blamed for the sins of others,” He went on. “Two drunk frat boys fighting at a keg party, one of them pulls a .38 … is that your fault? Or some kid flips out after getting a C-minus on his chem final and now he wants to plug his professor. This isn’t about guns on campus. It’s about…whatever.”

“Amen,” said young Matt.

And the Lord lifted up his hands and declared: “Blessed are the meek who pack heat.”

“I want that T-shirt!” young Matt exulted.

Then he and God spent the rest of the afternoon on target practice, taking turns with the modified assault rifle God had purchased the previous Saturday at a gun show in Homestead.

“I would’ve gone to Bass Pro,” He joked with his young admirer, “but I was afraid I wouldn’t pass the background check!”

Perhaps that’s how it really went down, the spiritual enlightenment of Matt Gaetz. Or maybe God never spoke to him, not even in a dream. Maybe Gaetz is making up his own goofy gospel.

Next chapter: The 12 disciples get carry permits.

(Carl Hiaasen is a columnist for the Miami Herald. Readers may write to him at: 1 Herald Plaza, Miami, Fla., 33132.)

AFP Photo/Karen Bleier