Relief was followed by fear of what could have been Monday as parents of Avon Park High School students received word that a weapon was discovered by a Highlands County Sheriff’s School Resource Deputy.

Those same parents are certainly pleased that a student anonymously contacted School Resource Deputy Jim Brimlow that a classmate had a gun. The student should be commended for doing exactly what law enforcement has recommended: “See something, say something.”

Brimlow did exactly what his job calls for. He immediately detained the 17-year-old suspect and took into possession the student’s bag that contained a loaded semiautomatic handgun, which was found on his person.

The student is charged with three third-degree felonies; possession of a weapon on school property, possession of a concealed weapon and possession of a firearm by a minor.

School Board and law enforcement officials were all pleased with the way the situation was resolved.

Fortunately, no one was hurt and the suspect was apprehended without incident. What’s sad is that the incident even happened.

It’s been seven months since a gunman killed five innocent victims in a Sebring bank shooting. The gunman was arrested and faces five counts of first-degree murder. The State Attorney Office says it will seek the death penalty.

So far, there have been four additional individuals murdered by gunshot this year. No arrests have been made in any of those cases.

Then there was the incident in Lake Placid where a man walked into the store, brandishing a weapon and making threats to a Walgreens employee. The suspect has been charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.

And these are only the incidents that have taken place in Highlands County this year. We don’t need to remind you of the numerous other incidents across the nation.

What can be done? People are going to have to discuss the issue and stop pointing fingers. We can’t ignore it. It’s a problem that has the potential to plague every community in the nation. There is no community in the nation that is safe in saying, “It can’t happen here.”

It’s an issue that needs to be discussed in a calm and meaningful manner. Adults need to be responsible adults. Parents need to be watchful parents. And everyone needs to follow the example of the young Avon Park High School student and exercise the motto: “See something, say something.”

What can you do to help safeguard the future of our community, our neighbors, our young people? If you see something wrong, will you be as brave as the APHS student and the Walgreens employee and report it to authorities? Will you have a talk with your children and loved ones about gun safety?


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