The rat-tat-tat of gunfire rings again in New Bedford. A brazen broad daylight barrage of bullets as children are walking home from school. Police won't say if they know who the gunslingers are, but there is one, unintended victim. A 60 year old man, sitting in his home, catches a stray bullet in the neck. Luckily, the unidentified man has been released from the hospital.

New Bedford City Councilor Debora Coehlo tells me she feels safe in the shooting gallery with police combing the area. She's mounting a council campaign to get more video cameras installed in high crime areas. Coehlo ain't crazy about letting more good citizens carry guns to protect themselves. So, the camera grabs a high resolution picture of some innocent sucker getting plugged. There's a great family photo.

There are all kinds of quick fix remedies. Bring in the National Guard, state police and the Sheriff's department. Put these kids in the Conservation corp. Gotta love this one, express yourself at community meetings.

These thugs are working the illegal drug trade. Why not? They are a growing demand. Guns and other weaponry are there All-State insurance policy. What does New Bedford have to show after a half century of the war against drugs? More addicts and more crime.

Dare I suggest a one year experiment? I do. A moratorium in the drug war. Hold on doubting Thomases. This experiment calls for legalizing drugs for 365 days. Let the experts analyze if we incur more or less drug related shootings, more or less addicted individuals, more or less drug related crime, more or less tax dollars spent on other, more necessary government projects.

Imagine no need for drug courts, failed programs in schools and for law enforcement snitches. I won't promise all the dirty dealers will retire, but the black market share of the pie will considerably shrink. Why? Because druggies can shop at a pharmacy or other related store for legal and clean goodies.

Let the prosecutors, defenders, lawmakers, health officials, counselors and police study the ramifications of the great experiment. Watch it. This policy fails when the prosecutors, defense attorneys, lawmakers, health officials, counselors, etc. belly ache they've lost precious resources and funding. Sorry. Utopia is not the answer.

Editor’s Note: Brian Thomas is the host of Brian’s Beat on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from 10am-Noon and Saturdays from 6am-9am. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

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