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  • Writer's pictureRob Icsezen

Ep. 25 Dr. Cedric Dark - Public Health in Houston: Gun Violence

Dr. Cedric Dark 0:00

***radio effect on voice*** That's all we're asking for, you know. If the NRA wants, you know, us to respect their Second Amendment right, I want them to respect my First Amendment right, to talk about it.

Music 0:23

***Intro Music***

Rob Icsezen 0:23

What's up Houston! Welcome to H-Town Progressive, Houston's impenetrable fortress of progressive thought! I'm your host, Rob Icsezen!

This episode was recorded on April 30, 2019, and it's now being released a little more than two weeks later, on May 15. During that period, there have been 20 mass shootings in the United States, where mass shooting is defined as a single outburst of violence in which four or more people are shot ( Literally every day in this country, 100 people are killed with guns, and hundreds more are shot and injured. It keeps happening. It keeps getting worse. And yet, we do nothing. And somehow, we're still having a debate about this, if you can call it that. Because an army of lawyers funded by industry has spent decades twisting the meaning of the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution, the right to bear arms now means: we just stand by and shrug when our children are murdered in their classrooms. From Sandy Hook to Stoneman Douglas to right here in our back yard in Santa Fe, the blood of our children has not been enough to move us. No, rather than discussing common sense gun reform, or God forbid the eradication of weapons of war among the public, we're talking about putting more guns in our schools, arming teachers, as if we don't ask enough of them already. And here's the thing, there are lots of different ways to effectively regulate guns, if you must have them in your community. There's no shortage of ideas, and there's no shortage of examples around the world. But we can't even begin that conversation with today's opposition. Instead, my kids and your kids have grown up doing "intruder drills" in their elementary school, as if to prepare for the inevitable. We have a gun culture in this country, in this state, and the bodies keep piling up, the blood keeps spilling. Gun Violence is undeniably a public health issue. When so many people die or are injured in the same way on a regular basis, it becomes a matter of public health. And like any matter of public health, we must listen first to those who serve on the front lines, those who see the epidemic every day for what it is. They've been told to "stay in their lane," but doctors around the country are speaking up. And our guest today is one of those doctors. Dr. Cedric Dark is founder and executive editor of Policy Prescriptions ( an organization dedicated to connecting decision makers to clinicians as a means to improve the state of the American healthcare system. Dr. Dark is a graduate of Morehouse College (, New York University School of Medicine ( and the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University ( He completed his residency training at George Washington University ( and he's an assistant professor in the Henry J.N. Taub Department of Emergency Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine ( It's my honor to welcome to the show today, Dr. Cedric Dark!

Dr. Dark, welcome to H-Town Progressive.

Dr. Cedric Dark 3:32

Oh, thank you.

Rob Icsezen 3:33

I'm really excited about having you here. It's, this is a really serious topic. It's in all our heads, unfortunately every day, but let's just jump right into it. You are an ER doctor and you literally see gunshot wounds every day.

Dr. Cedric Dark 3:49

Probably not every day, but many days I see them. And certainly there, there are some days that are better than others.

Rob Icsezen 3:55

So walk us through what your, what you see is this problem that is ubiquitous in our society of gun violence,

Dr. Cedric Dark 4:04

I think it's actually more a problem of just violence in general, because we actually see a lot, a lot more of things just like the run of the mill person getting mugged, stabbed, assaulted, you know, usually at a bar, you know, altercations, fights that kind of thing. But it gets peppered in with gun violence as well. And I think the one thing that makes it much more a problem is the legality of gun violence, obviously, because if you get punched in the face, you're probably not going to die from it. If someone you know, take some machete and stabs you across the face, you're not necessarily going to die from it, you might have a huge scar...

Rob Icsezen 4:41


Dr. Cedric Dark 4:42

But if someone you know, takes a couple shots at you, even if they don't have great aim, or even know what they're aiming at, they can hit something that could kill you instantly.

Rob Icsezen 4:51

So people get into fights, they always will, that's always going to happen, your... the ER is going to be full of people somehow. But we we have these weapons of war, these extremely effective killing machines out there. And so, and we just have this problem that they're literally everywhere, and there are more places, in places like Texas, there're certainly more of them. And so, they often say, there's a movement now, which is the "this is our lane," for doctors who are in a position like you who see this stuff often. And there is an opposition that's "well, you're doctor, you know, go and heal people don't talk about policy." What do you what do you say that?

Dr. Cedric Dark 5:38

I mean, this whole thing started back in November, when the NRA decided to butt into this conversation a little bit more than they should have. Essentially, I mean, the NRA can sit around and talk about what people should or shouldn't do regarding the Second Amendment and guns, and they totally have the right to do that. And that's why they were created. And that's what they're going to advocate for. But at the same time, I don't think that they have a right to step into what I do, which is the practice of medicine and tell me what I do or do not see and what I can or cannot recognize. I think doctors can recognize many problems. We've been through seatbelts as mandatory safety equipment in vehicles and you've seen motor vehicle deaths go down. We didn't approach that as something that was antithetical to having cars. We didn't say ban all cars. We just said let's put some safety devices on cars.

Rob Icsezen 6:28


Dr. Cedric Dark 6:28

And the auto industry went with it eventually. And we have safe vehicle-, safer vehicles than we did, you know, 50 years ago. Same thing with guns, you know, no one that I think is- Well, there, there probably are some people that want to ban all guns altogether. But I think a lot of the people that are at the center of the "this is our lane" movement, are not anti gun people. It's just we want to see them used for appropriate measures, and we want to see them not used on other human beings.

Rob Icsezen 6:59


Dr. Cedric Dark 6:59

You know, if someone wants to go out and shoot a deer, I don't think that we have problem with that. If they want to go out and shoot people in a synagogue, or mosque or a church, we do have a problem with that.

Rob Icsezen 7:11

Sure. Sure.

Dr. Cedric Dark 7:12

So so that's where I come from, and I think where a lot of people come from.

Rob Icsezen 7:16

Well, and and, and there's a lot of different perspectives here. So full disclosure, I'm one of those people who thinks guns should be banned. But I'm also very practically, practically minded person, I'm a lawyer, I understand the Second Amendment, I understand you can't do that. So I think that you, you can, however, have common sense regulation. And folks who take, hold my position, or folks who are, you know, not not as far in that direction, can absolutely agree on effective regulation to get to fewer gun deaths, fewer gun injuries, and horibble violence out there.

Dr. Cedric Dark 7:51

And I mean, that's the whole, the whole outcome that we're looking for, if you're talking about what's the objective. The objective is fewer gun deaths, fewer gun injuries, right. And so then it gets into the How do you get that done?

Rob Icsezen 8:03


Dr. Cedric Dark 8:03

And that's where, you know, there are many different paths to do that, right. So Australia, I think, decided to get rid of almost all the guns in the country, and they got rid of mass shootings. And when New Zealand recently did something fairly drastic, they had their mass shooting there. They, their prime minister said, You know what, we're going to end this.

Rob Icsezen 8:22


Dr. Cedric Dark 8:23

And like within a month, or however long it took, it's done.

Rob Icsezen 8:26


Dr. Cedric Dark 8:27

That's not going to happen here in the US. And again, we have the Second Amendment, it's not going away anytime soon. And so we got to work within those constraints to figure out how to do that. And I think a lot of people are trying to do that from many different perspectives. You have, there are physicians that I know that have been in this type of movement long before me.

Rob Icsezen 8:45


Dr. Cedric Dark 8:46

And do this as a daily thing, that focus on how do we do violence, injury prevention, that's not only guns, but also all those other things? Like, how do you keep young people away from alcohol, away from weapons of any kind, away from, you know, confrontations with other people. Figure out ways that they can de-escalate situations as opposed to having to turn to violent means to solve problems.

Rob Icsezen 9:12


Dr. Cedric Dark 9:12

You have other people that focus more on the legislative aspect of it, and talk to their state representatives or their congressmen and senators to pass bills like HR8 (, which just passed through the House, and you know, the companion bill's pending in the Senate right now.

Rob Icsezen 9:29


Dr. Cedric Dark 9:29

So, those of you that are listening, please call Ted Cruz ((202) 224-5922) and John Cornyn ((202) 224-2934) and tell them to support this.

Rob Icsezen 9:35


Dr. Cedric Dark 9:36

If you want to get like universal background checks, you know, implemented as as law. So...

Rob Icsezen 9:41

Well, and and you raised a metaphor, or a comparison, which I think is a great comparison, and that is to cars. Cars, before, well, maybe even in our childhood, but before we were born, didn't need to have seat belts. And just these little common sense things that make cars safer, not totally safe, but safer, reduced dramatically the amount of deaths and injuries associated with car accidents.

Dr. Cedric Dark 10:07


Rob Icsezen 10:07

You have big machines like a car, you have very effective killing devices, like guns, and you have humanity, which which is subject to emotion, is subject to disagreement. And it is, it seems to me common sense to put in place rules that would be aimed at reducing the things that will inevitably happen when people get mad at each other, and people make mistakes, and people succumb to things like depression. I know that the, one of the statistics that I don't know that it's common knowledge out there, but it's striking to me that, I think it's something like two thirds of gun deaths in the country are suicides.

Dr. Cedric Dark 10:45

Correct. It's about a two to one ratio.

Rob Icsezen 10:47

Yeah. And that is, that's when people are being affected by, you know, the mental trauma that leads to that kind of decision, having guns around, makes it easier for them to come to that that horrible conclusion.

Dr. Cedric Dark 11:04

It makes it ridiculously easier. You know, we see a lot of patients where, I work in the ER, we see a lot of people that come in for depression, suicidal thoughts, that kind of thing. Sometimes people that have tried to commit suicide, either by taking pills, walking from traffic, something like that. You know, someone that takes pills, the lethality of that is not necessarily as high as guns. It's almost, guns are about 50 more times more lethal than someone that's doing a suicide attempt by taking pills.

Rob Icsezen 11:33


Dr. Cedric Dark 11:34

You know, and so when you when you think about it, two thirds of the gun violence, as we call it, is self inflicted gun violence, you know, in terms of deaths anyway, then maybe that's something that we should focus on as well, you know. And and I think that, you know, we we kind of lump mental health into a little box and assume that, you know, there's evil people that are out there that are like gangbangers, or whatever. And that's one part of the gun problem. And then there's a bunch of suicides, that or, or people that are, quote, unquote, "deranged," that are having mass shootings, and that's another part of the gun problem. And I think what that does is it leads to a little bit of a cognitive dissonance, and it allows people to marginalize individuals in those two communities, so that we don't actually try to solve the problem that still affects a lot of other people as well. Maybe considered, quote unquote, more in the mainstream?

Rob Icsezen 12:35

Yeah, I mean, it "otherizes" these folks like, "Oh, these are not people. We know, these are not every day..." I mean, these problems are ubiquitous.

Dr. Cedric Dark 12:42

Right. And you don't know who the quote unquote, "other folks" are, because how many times have we seen "Oh, yeah, this person was just fine. I thought they were just fine." The next thing you know, they've blow their brains out.

Rob Icsezen 12:53

Yeah. Well, and the sheer numbers, I mean, these these mass shootings that we're seeing are so dramatic and horror, and and must be addressed. But they're not, I mean, they're the ones that get all the news.

Dr. Cedric Dark 13:06


Rob Icsezen 13:06

But right now, as we speak, someone's probably being shot in this country. For sure. And, and that is an everyday occurrence. That is sort of, the the big problem is that you've just got constant gun violence out there.

Dr. Cedric Dark 13:22

Right. No, I saw a guy yesterday, one of the cases of what I like to call the everyday gun violence, who essentially was robbed in a, you know, carjacking or robbery attempt, and rolled into the emergency department... I don't know, I mean, as of this morning, I don't know if the patient made it or not.

Rob Icsezen 13:41


Dr. Cedric Dark 13:43

So that's, that's the everyday stuff. But it's it's the the mass shootings that get a lot the news.

Rob Icsezen 13:50

As they should, but still.

Dr. Cedric Dark 13:51

They should, you know, they definitely should. And I and I think, you know, like the mass shootings, like we had in Texas here recently sort of brought that to the forefront. I think of the politicians that are at least in Texas, so that they could pay attention to the issue. Certainly the Parkland shooting brought a lot of attention to, to this issue amongst young people.

Rob Icsezen 14:10


Dr. Cedric Dark 14:10

And also amongst the general public. And I think that those serve as reminders to everyone else that yes, this remains a problem, we need to do something about that. You know, part of this whole, "this is our lane" thing took off, because the NRA tweeted that doctors shouldn't say anything. (for more on this, see: And then less than 12 hours after that there was a mass shooting. And it's like, you don't have time for these things to even get old.

Rob Icsezen 14:34


Dr. Cedric Dark 14:35

Because we have these events all the time.

Rob Icsezen 14:37


Dr. Cedric Dark 14:38

And so instead of being a, you know, obstructionist, why wouldn't an organization that supposedly believes in gun safety and appropriate gun use, want to partner with doctors that want to see the exact same outcome?

Rob Icsezen 14:55

Yeah. Yeah. And there seems to me, I'm curious to hear your thoughts on this, because I grew up in Houston, and not once did I do what my four kids have all done at public school here in Houston, which is they've had "intruder drills." So they go and every, a couple times a year, they have to practice for when someone might rage into their school with a gun, as has happened horribly in the last, you know, 15 years, several times. Is that a new thing? Is that, what's happening? I mean, I mean, it clearly is a new thing. We didn't grow up with that. But what's happening to our culture that this, that my kids, that kids all across the country are having to do this new thing?

Dr. Cedric Dark 15:41

That I don't have a great answer for. I saw a meme on Twitter the other day...

Rob Icsezen 15:45

Ok, always a good source of knowledge! [laughing]

Dr. Cedric Dark 15:47

Yeah. And I mean, it's like identifying the generation that you're in, you're like we're too old to, or we're too young to have done nuclear bomb drills, but too old to have done the active shooter drills. Yeah, that's kind of how you define, I guess the sort of inbetweener Gen X, early millennial kind of generation, you know.

Rob Icsezen 16:07

I've not heard, seen that before, that that is a kind of profound statement, I think. Yeah. So when it comes to the NRA, and and, interestingly enough, at the time of this recording, the NRA is very much in the news because of internal, you know, infighting between misappropriation of funds, and who knows where they'll go. But the NRA is a very powerful force here. And and they really just as a matter, of course, object to literally any kind of regulation that touches gun ownership, gun background checks, the safety around guns, I mean, like "bump stocks." I'm not a gun guy, but you know, I remember the "bump stock" thing that came up recently, you know, in the, one of the big mass shootings, as a regulatory thing. They even objected to that!

Dr. Cedric Dark 16:57


Rob Icsezen 16:58

So how do you, how do you, combat that?

Dr. Cedric Dark 17:02

Well, I mean, I try to combat it with like, science and information. But that only goes so far, unfortunately. But I mean, just as an example: so literally, I was asked on behalf of the Texas College of Emergency Physicians and the Texas Medical Association, to drive from Houston to Austin a couple weeks ago, to testify on a bill that was put forth by Senator Alvarado just to allow the public health department to do like some public service announcements on how to safely store your weapons and things that, you know, are scientifically proven to reduce things like kids shooting themselves, right, or kids committing suicide.

Rob Icsezen 17:48


Dr. Cedric Dark 17:49

That's all they were there to do. It wasn't like banning anything or regulating anything. So I got in my car, drove from Houston to Austin. It was an awesome drive. Very nice day. Kind of like today, but like blue sky everywhere. I pull off on Cesar Chavez, in Austin, and our lobbyists calls me asking me where I am. And I'm like, "I'm almost there. I just pulled off." And he's like, "oh, man, I wish you had called me earlier, because they just pulled the bill." And it's because of the NRA. And also because of some you know, there have been some "gun nuts" that had been actually rolling around at members of the Texas House and Senate, at their residences with firearms, you know...

Rob Icsezen 18:32

Oh right! This is the news about Bonnen, Speaker Bonnen, got into a fight with some Republican donor, yeah (for more on this, see:

Dr. Cedric Dark 18:36

Right. And so, you know, I essentially went up there had some barbecue for lunch and turned around and came back home.

Rob Icsezen 18:37


Dr. Cedric Dark 18:44

So it turned into like an all day thing for me. Didn't get to talk about it at all...

Rob Icsezen 18:48

Good thing doctors have a lot of spare time!

Dr. Cedric Dark 18:49

Yeah, it's good thing we ER doctors have tons and tons of free time to, you know, to spend doing that. But I mean, it just shows you that the lengths to which we in the medical community are willing to go to talk about things that make sense and are scientifically proven and the lengths to which the other side of that argument is willing to go to do things that make absolutely no rational sense.

Rob Icsezen 19:17

So, and and that is a, it's a cultural phenomenon that's been fueled by, I want to say moneyed interest, perhaps, I mean, it's an industry backed thing...

Dr. Cedric Dark 19:29


Rob Icsezen 19:30

And they're, they've been, I suppose smarter than the car industry was? Or maybe they have more power than the car industry did back in the day. Or, why did the car industry not do the same thing that the gun industry... because there's no amendment protecting cars the same way that the the gun lobby has has has twisted the Second Amendment into this, this thing?

Dr. Cedric Dark 19:52

Yeah, I probably would have to go with that. I think there's no there's no right to like motor vehicle transportation, whereas there is a right to bear arms and therefore, you know, the NRA is probably going to go after and pursue that to no end, so if it came down to like regulating bazookas and Apache helicopters, then they probably would say, "No, everyone needs to have their own Apache helicopter!" You know.

Rob Icsezen 20:10

Yeah. And that that is striking to me, because they they've, they've keyed off of this fairly antiquated part of our Constitution that, with the the help of several Supreme Court Justices, and a lot of lawyers behind that - another reason to love lawyers - but...

Dr. Cedric Dark 20:29

Tons of reasons to love lawyers!

Rob Icsezen 20:30

Yeah, exactly.

Dr. Cedric Dark 20:31

Especially when you're a doctor!

Rob Icsezen 20:32

Righ, right. But they, they made it part of the culture so that what happens when you go to testify in a way that should be non controversial, as you've just relayed to us, the "gun nuts," as you've called them, the, they rally! I mean, they are ready to go, they have people teed up to go and get their guns out and, and intimidate, which is what happened, I suppose, in that particular context. The, any kind of attempt to do anything, common sense...

Dr. Cedric Dark 21:05


Rob Icsezen 21:08

So I'm struggling with how to fight this in a in a rational sort of measured way.

Dr. Cedric Dark 21:13

You can't. So here's an analogy. We have people that come into the ER, because they are acutely psychotic. And they're just talking out of their head. They make no sense, you try to rationalize with them and explain, you know, why they need to be here. And

Rob Icsezen 21:26

Yeah. And that's a medical condition?

Dr. Cedric Dark 21:28

It's a medical condition, but they think they're Jesus.

Rob Icsezen 21:31


Dr. Cedric Dark 21:32

And I'm not going to convince them that they're not. And the NRA kind of acts like that sometimes, I would say. So there is no solution to, you can't you can't rationalize that away. The only way we get rid of that is by hitting somebody with anti-psychotic medication, having a psychiatrist see them, and then sometimes if they need it, they need to be admitted to the psychiatric ward for days to weeks.

Rob Icsezen 21:46

Fascinating. So you are likening the NRA to someone who suffers from this kind of psychosis?

Dr. Cedric Dark 22:01

Yeah, and to be clear, the NRA, the organization, yes.

Rob Icsezen 22:04


Dr. Cedric Dark 22:05

The members of the NRA, no.

Rob Icsezen 22:07

Right, okay, fair enough.

Dr. Cedric Dark 22:07

Gun owners like myself, no.

Rob Icsezen 22:10

So you're, so that's an important point here. You are a gun owner.

Dr. Cedric Dark 22:13

I'm a gun owner and one of my colleagues who's an ER doctor is a card carrying member of the NRA.

Rob Icsezen 22:18

Is that right?

Dr. Cedric Dark 22:18

He walks, we share a joke, he decided to give me a bumper sticker after this popped up that is kind of hilariously funny. Which says I'd rather go hunting with Dick Cheney than driving with Ted Kennedy. And as a political guy, I'm like, I need that bumper sticker. It's kind of funny, you know, and, you know, it kind of hits it both parties. So.

Rob Icsezen 22:39

Yeah, fair enough. Fair enough. So okay, as a as a gun owner, so guns are not something that you want to get rid of. You, you want to treat them as something that, you acknowledge their power and their their ability, you know, what they can do. And and you want to put in common sense regulation.

Dr. Cedric Dark 22:56

Yeah, I mean, I live in work in Texas. I'm not from Texas, but as they say, I got here as fast as I could.

Rob Icsezen 23:02

Yeah. [laughing]

Dr. Cedric Dark 23:05

That's what my wife likes me to say.

Rob Icsezen 23:06

[laughing] Is she a Texan?

Dr. Cedric Dark 23:08

She's born in Houston.

Rob Icsezen 23:11


Dr. Cedric Dark 23:11

Grew up in Houston, high school here, went away for school. I met her in DC where I'm from, and then she dragged me kicking and screaming back here.

Rob Icsezen 23:19

Fantastic! I did the same thing. Well, I was, I'm like your wife. I brought my wife here. So, from Chicago! But I...

Dr. Cedric Dark 23:25

But that said, I, I pretty much love this, love this town.

Rob Icsezen 23:29


Dr. Cedric Dark 23:31

But you know, that said, like, a lot of the doctors, the nurses, the techs, in the emergency department, everybody, our trauma surgeon has an AR 15. You know, one of our trauma surgeons does. One of our nurse practitioners, we go, we've been to the range, and he's former military. And, you know, he taught me how to shoot an M4 which is essentially like the exact same thing that the, you know, like an M16, it's fun to shoot!

Rob Icsezen 24:00

That's fascinating to me. So I I've never shot an AR 15 before or any, actually I've never shot a gun before. I've been asked on many occasions by friends who are not perhaps gun enthusiasts, but you know, know something about guns or you know, have gone on trips, where you go shoot these big guns. I try never to do that. And because I try to make the point that I want to draw a line in the sand and say, No, I don't want to make this part of the culture. And so that means I'm going to do what I can to de-normalize any kind of gun use. And that's part of the strategy that at least I personally have tried to employ. Not as a matter of policy, but just as a matter of how I carry myself, try to address the issue of the NRA...

Dr. Cedric Dark 24:53


Rob Icsezen 24:53

and the folks on the other side who you cannot really communicate with. So what do you what do you think about that approach? I mean, it's clearly not the approach you're taking, but that, you know, is that something that you think might be effective? I mean, I know how ubiquitous it is out there, but I feel like, the more we do this kind of thing, the more we can try to perhaps chip away at the culture.

Dr. Cedric Dark 25:12

I mean, to me, I mean, to me, it's a choice, I kind of view guns a little bit as a tool. For some people, it's a toy, you know. I think we were talking earlier about cameras, and you know. I, if it were up to me, and I'd rather shoot an animal and shoot an animal with like a Canon lens, a camera...

Rob Icsezen 25:30

not not not a Canon like on a battleship!

Dr. Cedric Dark 25:32

No not like a Canon on a battleship. I take pictures, you know, I'd rather do that. If I were like wandering around trying to take pictures or, to quote unquote, "shoot" deer. I would shoot them with pictures as opposed to with a rifle because that's just not what I want to do. The reason we have guns in our house is for safety reasons, and my wife wanted to have them and I'm like, Okay, fine. So I went along with her to get one...

Rob Icsezen 25:56


Dr. Cedric Dark 25:57

Two, rather. But we don't leave them loaded. You know, we have a toddler.

Rob Icsezen 26:01


Dr. Cedric Dark 26:01

You know, so, you know, like, some people think, Okay, I'm going to have this gun, and I'm going to leave it loaded. And I'm gonna put it under my pillow at night to keep my house protected. And like the odds show that you're more likely to shoot yourself or someone in your family than to actually defend your home in that situation, just because of the odds, you know.

Rob Icsezen 26:19

The fact that you're going to have it together, when an intruder comes into your house, enough to go to the place where you store that gun, load it... there's actually a really funny like, stand up comedy bit that this Australian guy does I forget his name, Johnson? anyway (It's Jim Jefferies, check out the routine here: But the fact that you can go get that that firearm ready and then effectively use it on the intruder, that's, that's a lot of ifs, right there.

Dr. Cedric Dark 26:43

It's a lot of ifs, but you know, it's it's also like a lot ifs of when someone comes in, you know, acutely traumatized or in cardiac arrest, you know, knowing which meds to give, when to push them, how to push them how to get access, you know, so you gotta have to rehearse, you plan and rehearse those things.

Rob Icsezen 26:59

Yeah. My personal security device is two 100 pound dogs. [laughing]

Dr. Cedric Dark 27:04

That's probably one of the better ones because they have a real good deterrent. And you can know that they're there from a far distance away.

Rob Icsezen 27:12

That's right. And they do make themselves known. Yeah. [laughing]

Dr. Cedric Dark 27:15

So yeah, I would do that. But my schedule does not permit being the ER doctor that I am.

Rob Icsezen 27:20

Understandable! Here's something though, that argument of safety, I want to push it a little bit, not from what you said. But one of the arguments that you do hear from the folks who are against gun regulation is that, well, you know, the Second Amendment is there so that I can protect myself from my government. If my government gets out of control. It's this sort of, you know, the right to bear arms, a well regulated...

Dr. Cedric Dark 27:44

A well regulated militia!

Rob Icsezen 27:46


Dr. Cedric Dark 27:46

The words "well regulated."

Rob Icsezen 27:48

That's right. Key words. And I think about this, and I'm like, huh, do these people really think that if the United States government, which could launch a basketball into the Kremlin's top window right now if they wanted to, is going to be deterred by even an AR 15 or whatever big you know, rifle, you might, arsenal you might have in your personal house, is the United States government, the Navy SEALs all the, you know, all the really badass military people that that are currently doing stuff as we speak, I'm sure somewhere in the world, are they going to be deterred from getting you just because you have an arsenal in your house?

Dr. Cedric Dark 28:25

Quick answer, no.

Rob Icsezen 28:26


Dr. Cedric Dark 28:26

But that said, I think this is one of those things. And I've talked to some people that are gun owners, completely rational people. And this is I'm actually having these conversations sometimes in the ER, with folks who are just you know, shooting the breeze. I'm, I'm willing to talk to people about stuff if they are.

Rob Icsezen 28:42


Dr. Cedric Dark 28:42

I don't think that we should not be able to talk about stuff unlike the NRA that wants to have gag rules for pediatricians asking about gun storage in Florida.

Rob Icsezen 28:51

I did not know about that!

Dr. Cedric Dark 28:52

A little sidebar.

Rob Icsezen 28:53


Dr. Cedric Dark 28:54

But that that said, you know, I think it's one of the reasons why many gun owners do not want to have any kind of registry formulated, or any lists kept of who owns which guns and how many guns they are. Because if and when, and and this is sort of the scenario I put forward in, and I view myself as not as like, totally, you know, bonkers in like, conspiracy theory, you know... but

Rob Icsezen 29:20

OK, paranoid that the government's going to getcha!?!

Dr. Cedric Dark 29:22

Yeah, paranoid that the government's going to get you. But, if they wanted to, wouldn't the first thing they'd do would be to go to that registry, knock off all those people with the guns first, and then subdue the rest of the country? I think they would, it'd be very easy.

Rob Icsezen 29:37

I think it might be irrelevant to the whole thing. If the government is is is conspiring to, like knock out people. [laughing] I think they knock out whoever they want to knock out, regardless. You know, maybe they might say, as a matter of strategy, go to this, you know, registry or whatever. And...

Dr. Cedric Dark 29:53

Yeah, I think strategically that that would if, if I were the dictator of America, that's probably the way I would go about it, you know!

Rob Icsezen 30:00

[laughing] We could ask the current dictator, because there might be a plan in place, actually!

Dr. Cedric Dark 30:03

Well, so that's the thing like think about it, like, this is the H-Town Progressive podcast, right? Do you? Do you really want the leader of the quote unquote "free world" to have access to know every single thing about you and to attack you? Maybe plus or minus with the help of the Russian government?

Rob Icsezen 30:21

So, so you know, it's interesting in this podcast that we can see the downloads that this is a kind of a side note, but most of our downloads come from Texas, almost all of them come from the United States. The second highest number of downloads in the world comes from Russia!

Dr. Cedric Dark 30:35

Hmmm, interesting!

Rob Icsezen 30:35

It's interesting, this local podcast about Houston progressive politics, anyway, But to your point, yeah, we're out there. We're public. And yes, we're probably on somebody... I don't know if we're big enough to be on anybody's radar screen. But we might be on someone's, some bot farm in Russia has probably done key word searches or something like that. But if they want to get me they're going to get me! You know, regardless of what guns I might have!

Dr. Cedric Dark 31:00

Yeah, no, either way, even if you had an arsenal here, they would get you, it'd be very easy to just do a drone strike or something.

Rob Icsezen 31:06

Yeah! And, and further, the possibility that that ever might happen is so remote! Weigh that! against the possibility that some weapon that I own is then going to be used by one of my children on him or herself or a friend or me or my wife or something else. And it's clear that, that, it it just doesn't make sense.

Dr. Cedric Dark 31:32

No, that that situation is far more likely than Skynet becoming aware. [laughing]

Rob Icsezen 31:38

Skynet might become aware actually! [laughing]

Dr. Cedric Dark 31:40

Well that's the thing. It's like if there is the list, and Skynet becomes aware, that's where all the nukes are headed, during Judgment Day (

Rob Icsezen 31:45

You know I like how the episode is going. [laughing]

Dr. Cedric Dark 31:46

No, I watch too much science fiction.

Rob Icsezen 31:50

I do too! But I don't think there is such thing as too much, right? [laughing]

Dr. Cedric Dark 31:53


Rob Icsezen 31:54

But here's the thing, things like science fiction- okay, so, guns, we can have fingerprint readers on them, so we can tie a firearm to its owner. And so for example, you know, people often argue, well, places where they're regulated, they just go to the next state over where it's not regulated. And they get their gun.

Dr. Cedric Dark 32:13

Correct. Yeah.

Rob Icsezen 32:14

So that that is a legitimate problem.

Dr. Cedric Dark 32:15

That's the classic, you know, classic Chicago story, right? People just, they're not getting their guns in Illinois, they're going over to Gary, Indiana, or wherever and getting their guns over there, and then bringing them across.

Rob Icsezen 32:24


Dr. Cedric Dark 32:25

And this is part of the thing that we, that really, we have difficulty in controlling the flow of firearms to people that should and should not have them. And part of that is, you know, the lack of background checks which are universal, because if you're buying your gun from, you know, Joe Schmo, or at a gun show, you don't necessarily have to follow the background check process.

Rob Icsezen 32:45


Dr. Cedric Dark 32:45

The other thing too, is we have like holes in that background check process, because again, when we talk about things like mental health issues, only certain things that are adjudicated, get into that. And, you know, it's really difficult to make sure that we can identify people that are at risk. You- while at the same time respecting the rights of people that have lifelong conditions, like depression or anxiety, that are not at risk, and protecting their, their rights, as well as keeping people safe, when they're in severe enough situations where they might harm themselves or other people.

Rob Icsezen 33:23

Yeah, well, and and one point that this makes me think about is that this whole state line thing, where you're going to have different laws all over the country, and even in border countries, close countries, and and you can't control all that. And even if we broke down the Second Amendment barricade that's been put up by the current Supreme Court, or the Supreme Court over the last 20-30 years, we're still going to have an issue with state regulation being lax in some places and stronger in other places. And I think the answer has got to be on the producer side, not just on the consumer side. And so gun industry must be regulated. And I think there are lots of smart ways to do that. In the car industry, for example, there's products liability, that's a big way to get any kind of mass produced thing to be safer, is that the producer of the thing, has some liability.

Dr. Cedric Dark 34:17


Rob Icsezen 34:17

For harm that is caused by the thing. Now, there are complex, perhaps complexities in how you do that with guns. But you know, a good friend of mine is adamantly in favor of regulating bullets. Maybe that's a way to get around the Second Amendment.

Dr. Cedric Dark 34:34

Yeah, that I think that's like the Chris Rock joke. It's like, we don't need gun control, we need bullet control (

Rob Icsezen 34:39

Yeah, right!

Dr. Cedric Dark 34:41

Yeah. And I think that's a totally reasonable thing to do. The problem is, as you mentioned, the manufacturers of the quote unquote, "things," things which are only designed to actually maim or kill, not designed to like, you know, microwave food or store produce at a cold temperature. You know, their one design is to hurt people.

Rob Icsezen 34:48


Dr. Cedric Dark 34:55

Or whatever they encounter. So the liability issue is difficult. But again, when the gun industry is the people funding the NRA, then you understand why the NRA is opposed to everything.

Rob Icsezen 35:16


Dr. Cedric Dark 35:16

Because you just got to follow the money trail back to the source.

Rob Icsezen 35:19

Yeah, I mean, because any kind of regulation that chips away at this monolith is, is ultimately going to hit the bottom line and might create liability for folks up on high who profit off of all this stuff. But I do think that that's, that is the path for us forward. So you know, as we kind of come to a close of this discussion, which has been great by the way, you know, why is this, your lane as a doctor? And we kind of just started the discussion that way. But I want to kind of close it up with you know, I think it's special that you doing what you do every day are here to speak out about this particular issue. Why is it your lane?

Dr. Cedric Dark 36:00

I mean, it's our, it's our lane. And it's not just doctors, it's doctors, nurses, it's the people that mop the blood up off the floors, it's everybody from the registration tech that sees the person when they roll in on the stretcher, you know with their bullet wounds. It's it's all of their lane, because we see it every day. The people that manufacture guns, and most of your you know, your law abiding gun owners, they won't see this every day, like we do. And that's why it's our lane. And I think that we've earned that right, as the right of people that are educated, and know how to take care of these folks, but also the right of people that know how to read the science behind what laws work and what laws don't work. We have a right to talk about it.

Rob Icsezen 36:41


Dr. Cedric Dark 36:42

You know, that's all we're asking for, you know, if the NRA wants, you know, us to respect their Second Amendment right. I want them to respect my First Amendment right, to talk about it. And I think that First Amendment does come before the Second Amendment. So I don't know if there's an order priority of anything.

Rob Icsezen 36:58

[laughing] There is in fact! There's a reason it's first!

Dr. Cedric Dark 37:00

But, you know, maybe, yeah, there's, there's a reason. So let me talk about it, tell them to stay in their little box, and do what they want to do over there. But stay out of my lane. Let me practice medicine, let me practice public health and policy, because I do have a degree in that as well. And they can just shut up and, you know, try to make money making, selling bullets.

Rob Icsezen 37:21

And that, you get to a point of data driven policy. And that's why we're, we're now having a string of shows where we're talking to some doctors and scientists. And I think that that's one of the things that we've gotten away from. And it's hard to get back to, but I wanted to really try to push that, is that the folks like you, the scientists, the folks who are in the data, the folks who are trained in rigorous analytical, scientific reasoning, we need to listen to these people, as we shape our policy to make our world safer and better.

Dr. Cedric Dark 37:52

Yeah, definitely.

Rob Icsezen 37:53

Okay. Well, Dr. Dark, thank you so much for being on the show today. It's been a real pleasure having you.

Dr. Cedric Dark 37:58

Thank you.

Rob Icsezen 37:59

Next week, we're going to shift back to the issue of immigration, when we talk to local immigration attorney Ruby Powers, hope you'll join us.

So if this discussion made you think, motivated you, or hell, even made you angry, hit that subscribe button at or wherever you get your podcasts! And don't forget to tell all your friends about us! Also, we've revamped our website with more information and accessibility. Now we'll be providing a transcript of all new podcast episodes shortly after they're released. And we'll be doing the same for back episodes, slowly but surely. ***end music begins to fade in*** Another thing you'll see on the website is an option for swag! It's not available yet, but we hope to have t-shirts and other cool stuff available for all you awesome H-Town progressive soon! So again, check all this out at And as always, we'd love to hear from you. If you have a comment, topic idea or a guest suggestion, email me at, OR give us a call and leave us a message with your comments at 281-915-9561, again, that's 281-915-9561 and we'll put your message on the show!

Thanks again for listening! I'm Rob Icsezen, and THIS, is H-Town Progressive!!!

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