By Lee Williams

I’ve been a soldier, a cop, an investigative reporter and now an editor at a daily newspaper.

I’ve seen more than my share of weirdness during more than 50 years on this planet, so I should have better coping mechanisms when confronted by absolute world-class stupidity, but what hit me today is so damn dumb it nearly took my breath away.

The North Florida Chapter of the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives (NOBLE) will hold a toy gun buyback Friday, June 21 at a church in Tallahassee.

Just to make sure you didn’t miss it, it’s a TOY gun buyback. They’re buying back kids’ toys, man.

According to their flyer, NOBLE is hosting the event to “stress the importance of gun safety in our community, beginning with our Youth.”

To be clear, they’re “stressing the importance of gun safety” by having kids turn over their toys to police.

What’s the lesson there?

How the hell does that teach gun safety?

What message does that send? If you own a gun, even a toy guy, you should surrender it to police?

How Stalin-esque.

Making matters worse, the email was sent to my newspaper by a spokeswoman — actually the spokeswoman — for the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE). That means FDLE is not only a supporter of this insanity, they’re actually helping to promote it. It also means that FDLE has picked a side — the gun-grabbing side.

More disconcerting — it means taxpayer dollars are being spent to support and promote a toy gun buyback, and that, folks, is not right. Go ahead and ask yourself if this is how your hard-earned taxpayer dollars should be spent.

The stupid here — it’s so strong it almost burns.

I reached out to FDLE’s spokeswoman Gretl Plessinger. I’ve dealt with Gretl before. She’s a good person who seems to realize now that she made a mistake.

“I made the decision to send it out because I generally will send out announcements from NOBLE or other law enforcement groups. Maybe I shouldn’t have,” Gretl said Thursday. “I didn’t mean to advocate. I wanted to forward it on their behalf.”

I asked her if FDLE endorsed the toy gun buyback. “I forwarded it on behalf of NOBLE. Obviously I didn’t make it clear when I sent it. I didn’t mean to endorse it,” she said.

I asked her if she thought a toy gun buyback was foolish. “I didn’t really think about that. I liked it because they offer children’s fingerprinting and photographs too,” she said.

And now a word about NOBLE.

NOBLE and other top-cop networking groups, like the larger International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP), all have one thing in common — they’re decidedly anti-gun. Most police chiefs and senior cops — especially those from large metro areas — are anti-gun, regardless of the color of their skin, so their organizations reflect the beliefs of their members.

Real cops, I’ve found, support an armed citizenry because they understand that they’re the true First Responders. Most police execs aren’t as enlightened.

If NOBLE sponsored a real gun buyback I wouldn’t be surprised, but a toy gun buyback? That type of uselessness leaves me somewhat speechless.

I hope the good folks in Tallahassee come out in droves, not to turn in their kids’ toys, but to let these law enforcement execs know that this type of indoctrination of our youth may work in Chicago, Los Angeles or New York City, but it is not welcome in Florida, especially if we’re paying for it.


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