I was deeply disturbed by the headlines a couple of weeks ago about a Chicago mother who had lost four children to murder. My heart ached for that mother's loss.

But as I was more disturbed when I realized that this tragedy has been (yet again!) exploited by the media in its relentless camgaign to demonize firearms. The headlines read GUN violence. Not gang violence, not drug trade violence, not out-of-control-crime-rate violence; no, the media calls it GUN violence.

Why is that? Why are the newspapers and electronic news outlets almost all blaming firearms in general, and "assault weapons" in particular--for the massacres at Sandy Hook, Columbine, Virginia Tech?

The media's demonization of guns as the source of the violence and death in America is, quite simply, irrational. I can demonstrate that it's irresponsible, even outright insane. It flies in the face of reason and experience, yet it is virtually unchallenged. Why?

I am not the man to answer that question. There are a lot of smarter people than me who have done a much better job of it than I could. John Lott's More Guns, Less Crime and Dr. Gary Kleck's papers published in peer review journals, among many other studies, have shown that Americans use firearms millions of times annually to actually prevent violent crime. The CDC's analysis of the results of the last "assault weapons ban" (AWB) showed that it was a tremendous waste of money and time, and did nothing to prevent crim.

Gun control mania seized the U.K. and Australia after madmen slaughtered school children in Scotland, and tourists at a seaside resort. Both countries banned and confiscated huge numbers of firearms. But today, both countries suffer rates of violent crime—including "gun crime"—much higher than they had prior to their gun bans.

But America's politicians and journalists ignore that evidence and clamor for more gun control. This is irrational, and arguably insane.

I am a trauma physician with tens of thousands of ER experience. If I were to practice medicine as irrationally as the gun-control politicians practice politics, I would be sued into poverty, and stripped of my license. Banning guns as a treatment for violence in America would be as useless as me applying leeches and muttering occult incantations to treat a trauma patient. It's worse than useless: it's malpractice.

Gunshot wounds can be terrible, but they can also be trivial. To us ER docs, a gunshot wound (GSW) is a relatively straightforward thing to deal with. Other types of trauma, like motor vehicle collision (MVC) trauma are often much more difficult to assess and treat. Most of the time, I treat GSW victims quickly and effectively and the patient will not only survive, but recover completely.

GSW's aren't the only deliberately inflicted trauma that we treat in the ER. Guns are used in 2/3 of American murders, but the other 1/3 use edged weapons, bludgeons, bombs, fists, etc. It will surprise most laymen, but blunt trauma and stab wounds are often a much harder medical problem to tackle than GSW's.

If we look at worldwide data we find that murder rates have no apparent relationship to gun laws. The murder rate in the USA was 4.7/100,000 in 2011 (total 14,478), but strictly gun-controlled countries like Russia (10.2/100,000) and Brazil (21.0/100,000) are much more violent.

Examination of these figures suggest that if America could somehow round up all the guns in the country, the violence would be unlikely to diminish. Criminals are at least as violent in Russia and Brazil as they are in America. They use guns less often than American criminals, but their violence is no less awful.

Some of my ER colleagues worked in Northern Ireland during The Troubles, back in the 1980's. They were used to dealing with GSW and bomb victims on a regular basis, and they were good at it. But they dreaded the cease-fires negotiated between the government and the IRA because when guns were taken out, the violence continued with even more horrific weapons. Incidence of GSW's approached zero. but instead of shooting people, they would beat them with clubs, or drill holes in their brains with electric drills, or cut them to ribbons with razors, or douse them with gasoline and set them on fire.

I did my trauma training in Canada, which had a much lower rate of gun violence than the USA in the early 90's. (it's no longer true, by the way; Canadian criminals use guns now at a rate very close to the rates here in America, despite Canada's much "tougher" gun laws). I saw far fewer GSW's in Canada than I've seen in the USA, but I saw a hundred times as many trauma cases where the weapon was a knife, a machete, a club, a pipe.

Now, I happen to have been shot (once), stabbed (twice), and suffered severe burns (3 times). I will state for the record that if I was asked to choose among those three as my method of execution, I would take a bullet over a knife or a flame in a New York minute. This may seem a macabre distinction to the average American, but as a physician who deals in trauma on a daily basis, and who is responsible for treating the agony of the injured and dying, the distinction is real.

If we completely eliminate guns in America—arguably an impossible undertaking—we will not eliminate violence. Not only will we still have violence to deal with, but the trauma and suffering that will be incurred will be horrific beyond the imaginings of John and Jane Q. Citizen. Think about South Africa, with its incredible murder rate, which is also very, very tightly gun-controlled. Death by "necklace" (having a burning, gasoline-soaked car tire draped over your neck until your head and face are charred beyond recognition while you're still alive) is more common in South Africa than death by GSW.

Take away guns, and you don't take away violence. You just change its style.

If professors such as John Lott and Gary Kleck have demonstrated the positive value of firearms in Americans' self-defense against violence, and public health authorities aorund the world have shown that gun bans have no effect on criminal violence, and if the experiences of Belfast and South Africa and the Soviet Union have shown that banning guns only condemns innocent people to death and torture by countless grisly means, then why in God's name are America's politicians and journalists continuing to harp on THE GUN as the evil thing that must be eradicated from our society?

Here's where the media and our elected officials are committing malpractice. As long as they can blame GUNS for the problem, they don't have to actually work at finding a real solution to the problem of violent crime. By blaming guns, they don't have to admit that violence is not a simple problem that can be fixed with a new law or two. It's a complex and difficult problem, and the solutions are going to be uncomfortable for many of us to face. Demonization of guns, rather than seeking a truly workable solution, would be like me using leeches and arsenic to treat a heart attack. It's malpractice, plain and simple.

It is manifestly obvious that it is time to address the real reasons behind violence in America. Let's address inner city decay and unemployment, and while we're at it, let's call the glorification of gangs and drugs and violence in movies and video games for the poison it is to our young people.

Let's address the deplorably underfunded mental health system in this country, so that madmen like Adam Lanza can be kept safely away from potential victims--whether by institutionalization, or by better community treatment and monitoring.

And let's provide armed guards in our schools, as the NRA and others have called for, a measure which has far more "commonsense" behind it than the half-witted proposals touted by demagogues like Sen. Diane Feinstein. Armed guards in schools have kept Israeli schools murder-free for nearly 40 years. The fact that Feinstein, Obama and Biden have dismissed this proven effective measure tells us that they are far less interested in protecting our children than they are in protecting their own political positions.

However we as a nation choose to address the issue of violence in America, our politicians and journalists have to stop this sinister and deliberately misleading demonization of firearms. Guns are no more responsible for violence than Rosie O'Donnell's ice-cream scoop is responsible for her obesity. The sooner we as a nation face this fact the sooner we will be able to get working on some real solutions.

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I had the privilege of speaking with Ryan Rocquin of The Gunrunner Podcast (www.thegunnrunnerpodcast.com)  last weekend just before the Super Bowl kickoff,  and had an enjoyable conversation with this young man. For those who don't follow his website and podcasts, let me tell you a little bit about him.

Ryan is a USMC veteran with The Sandbox listed on  BTDT section of his resume. He has trained as a paramedic as well, but if I recall correctly he doesn't actually work as an EMT currently. He is a public school teacher in the Pacific Northwest, one of my favorite parts of the USA, and a member of one of my favorite professions. He is also an enthusiastic lifelong hunter. Anyone who knows me at all will recognize that there are significant points of concordance with Ryan and myself, so it's no surprise we get on pretty well.

Readers may recall that I did an interview with Ryan for his podcast last summer, in which I explained in my usual long-winded and pontificating manner why it matters more where you shoot someone than what you shoot him with. In other words, I explicated the principles of Tactical Anatomy as set forth in my book and in my training courses. 

Ryan tells me that he has received a lot of feedback on that podcast, some of which was actually positive. Moreover, listeners had peppered him with so many questions that he felt a followup interview was necessary to answer them all. So we did another interview, and I answered those questions. If you go to his website, which I've cited above, you can listen to that podcast, which was published on 2/8/13. 

Or, if you hate listening to my hoarse and scratchy voice, you can just follow this blog for the next little while, because I'm going to put down in pixels in this very weblog the points I made in the podcast, which include:

1. How badly the 380 ACP truly sucks as a defensive pistol round 

2. Why the 9mm is the world's default defensive pistol round

3. Myth or Magic? Personal defense shotgun loads: bird, buck, and slug

4. Home defense tactics

5. Why you need to shoot the bad guy more than once

... and a couple of others, which I can't recall off the top of my head, but which I'll add in here using the "edit" function after I listen to the interview again later this weekend.

IN THE MEANTIME... Tactical Anatomy's website reconstruction is underway!!! I have been discussing future direction of the website (and Tactical Anatomy LLC in general) with my advisors and my webmaster, Deleyna, and we are proceeding with several projects including making this website a LOT easier to use.

Those of you who have had difficulty getting hold of me through the website email link, I apologize to you profusely. We had to upgrade security drastically due to a huge number of hacking hits from China and Russia last fall, and it cut out a lot of emails accordingly. Hopefully the security issues will be a thing of the past with the website upgrade, and life will return to some semblance of normal.

Keep your eyes on this space, as I will be blogging a lot more frequently in this new format. You won't be able to see the new format for a while, but trust me, Deleyna and I are getting it up and running in the background.

As always, remember: only incapacitating hits count.

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Since the horrific murders in Newtown, CT, last week, America has been gripped by a near-hysterical public debate about what to do to prevent such a thing from happening again. Not surprisingly, the usual gun-hating politicians are crying out for more stringent gun control laws, as if Connecticut's existing and very stringent gun laws were inadequate.

And it's no surprise that no politicians are crying out for curbs on the ultra-violent influences our kids are exposed to in video games, TV, and movies. No politicians are suggesting that the mainstream media's obsession with glorifying insane killers like Adam Lanza needs to stop. And so far the politicians have only paid lip service to the shameful underfunding of mental health care in this nation.

If anything good comes out of this tragedy, it might be what some people are proposing as the Lanza test. The test is simple:  just ask if some proposed solution would have stopped or limited what Adam Lanza was able to do. If the answer is no or little, then find a better solution. Here are some examples:

1. Would having locked security doors stopped Lanza? No. Not if he could break or shoot out glass panels and get in, which is what he did.

2. Would requiring background checks at gun show have stopped Lanza? No. He murdered the person who legally purchased the guns and took them. Lanza was too young to purchase those guns himself under state law. Same for waiting periods, required training, and safety locks, none of which would have stopped or limited what Adam Lanza was able to do.

3. Would banning all assault weapons and semi-auto pistols have stopped Lanza? No. Only if you think a body count of 10 or 12 is okay, which might be how many kids he could have killed using two revolvers and a pump shotgun.

4. Would arming teachers and principals have stopped Lanza? Yes. It is probable that no one, or possibly only a few adults would have been shot before Lanza was stopped and likely no kids would have been killed.

Now if we can get politicians to use the Lanza test we might actually find ways to protect kids.

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I was privileged to be asked by Kathy Jackson of Concealed Carry Magazine to write an article on SXRV. You can check it out in the latest issue (Vol. 9, Issue 7, October 2012) or by loggin in to www.usconcealedcarry.com.  Kathy did a great job of editing the article and improving my amateurish photos and illustrations. Way to go, Kathy!

In other news, I returned this past week from a successful hunting trip to Wyoming.

This was the 5th annual reunion of a bunch of guys that my friend Keith and I have gathered up for an annual Antelope Armaggedon. This year was surprisingly cold and snowy, which really played hell with the antelope hunting. Fortunately, good guiding by Keith and Larry, and some amazing shooting with a great rifle that Keith provided that could reach out and kill speedgoats at nearly 1000 yards turned the tide!  I brought home 3 tasty animals, which will provide the bulk of our winter's meat here in West Texas, and will provide about 40 pounds of antelope/pork smoked sausage for the annual Reagan County Big Game Supper coming up the Saturday after Thanksgiving.

I have a couple more hunts scheduled this fall, and in the meantime I'm preparing for my recurring Family Medicine Board exam in November. Not to mention that my Concussion Clinic duties are really taking off. So I may be even LESS likely to post regular blogs than I usually do.

So in the meantime, y'all stay safe, and have a great fall and/or hunting season.

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I recently did a radio-type "podcast" interview with Ryan Rocquin, who runs a firearms-oriented podcast website. This interview will be put out on Monday, September 3, 2012 (Labor Day). If you feel like hearing me bloviate for an hour, you can catch it any time after Monday at the following website:


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This material is likely Old Hat to most of the members here at TacAnat.com.  But over the past year or so I've noticed an encroaching mentality on numerous internet forums which I can only describe as willful stupidity about the realities of the use of deadly force. People are using terms like "castle doctrine" and other blather as if these are magic words that will somehow preserve them from unpleasantness if they should find themselves forced to use deadly force against another person.

I realize that most people making these statements have no training in the law, in police policy and procedure, and certainly no training in the use of force of any kind, let alone the use of deadly force. But they persist in spouting their nonsense to all and sundry from some misguided sense of righteousness, and so many of them are saying it so often that more and more people are starting to believe it. I think it's time those of us who have experience or even expertise in the use of deadly force need to speak up and slap these idiots and their foolishness down. Good people's lives are at risk as long as this nonsense is allowed to be promulgated without challenge.

If you agree with what I've written here, I encourage you to copy and paste it into an email and send it to the people you think need to read it.

I've been dealing with the realities of the use of force and the use of deadly force for close to 20 years now. In that time I've seen the consequences of it up close and personal... fortunately, not in a way that has destroyed my life. But I've seen a lot of people's lives destroyed by their ignorance of the realities of use of deadly force.

If you don't believe me, dig out the last 5 years of American Handgunner and read The Ayoob Files in each issue. Ayoob doesn't dwell on it, but the life-destruction suffered by the people he writes about is horrific.

So here's the short version of what I know to be true about the use of a handgun (or any firearm, for that matter) in an act of self-defense:

1. If you carry or even own a firearm for purposes of self-defense, you are an idiot if you don't spend the money and time to get training. I'm not talking basic handgun training. I'm talking about training in the use of deadly force.

2. There are 3 people in America who conduct this training at the highest level. Their names are Massad Ayoob, John Farnam, and Clint Smith. Massad Ayoob's class is probably the most accessible. After I took his LFI-I class in 1998, I went home and registered my entire family for the class. I have since come to realize that John and Clint teach much the same material. And I state without equivocation that if you don't take one of these guys' classes but you still intend to use your firearm for self-defense, you're just asking to have your life destroyed.

3. You can get these Ayoob's and Farnam's training for about the price of a good handgun and a holster and a year's supply of ammunition (if you ever bother to practice with that fancy gun, which most handgun owners don't, of course). Smith will run you a bit more, but what he teaches is worth the extra dough. If you have a safe full of guns and you haven't taken training in the use of deadly force, you're lying about being serious about armed self-defense.

4. If you shoot somebody, even if you did so in what you think was self-defense, have realistic expectations about what is likely to happen.
a. EXPECT to be arrested and charged.
b. Expect to be handcuffed and taken to jail.
c. Expect a very nasty series of interrogations.
d. Expect to have to hire a good lawyer, and expect to spend the next 1-2 years defending yourself.
e. Expect to have to mortgage your house and liquidate all your assets to pay your legal costs.
f. Expect to lose your guns.
Start with these expectations, because they are far more likely than the chances you are going to be allowed to go home and sleep in your own bed for a while. (But if you've taken appropriate deadly force training, your chances of making it through this horror relatively unscathed is much better than if you follow all the advice you've been reading on the internet.)

5. If you live in a place like rural Texas or Montana, most of what I've described in #4 probably won't happen. If you live in a major city or in a Blue state, most of #4 is likely. But much of it will happen, even if you did everything right.

6. Life isn't fair. Deal with it.

7. The police are not going to be your friends if you shoot somebody. It's their job to arrest and charge people who shoot other people, and then let the legal system sort it out. They don't care if you think you're a good guy.

8. The prosecutors are not going to be your friends if you shoot somebody. It's their job to put you in prison for the rest of your life, whether you deserve to be there or not. They don't care if you think you're a good guy.

9. Your friends and family--most of them--are not going to be friendly to you if you shoot somebody. People regard killers of other people as pariahs. They don't care that you think you're a good guy, and that you did everything right.

10. If you haven't realized by now that you need some training in the use of deadly force and how to deal with the aftermath, I don't think there's any hope for you.

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We will be holding a Shooting with Xray Vision for Civilians  class (SXRV-C) at the Sand Burr Gun Ranch outside of Rochester, Indiana, on September 9, 2012. Our host and old friend, Denny Reichard, has a great shooting venue at the Gun Ranch. In addition to being one of the best Smith & Wesson revolversmiths in the world, he's also a man with a great sense of humor and has his priorities in order.

As usual, our SXRV class will cover the fundamentals you NEED to know  in order to maximize your ability to neutralize a deadly threat. The course covers in detail: terminal ballistics, gunshot wounding and incapacitation, human physiology, and critical 3-dimensional human anatomy. Course tuition is $150.00. 

You can register for the class by calling the Sand Burr Gun Ranch (574.223.3316) and ask for Ashley, or shoot me an email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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On August 1, 2012,Reagan County Sheriff's Deputy Josh Mitchell died under my care.

He had been shot with a rifle by a chronic meth-head here in my little West Texas town about 90 minutes before I finally gave him up to the Lord and admitted there was nothing more I can do. I, and my entire trauma team, worked our ass off trying to save Josh's life. I spent 20+ hours from the time Josh got shot to the time the perp tried to eat his gun (typically for him, a botched job) trying to marshal our small hospital's resources to be as prepared as we could be to meet the needs of whatever might have come down the pike. I was deathly afraid that I was goiing to have two or three wounded cops in my ER in the next few hours. I can't begin to describe what I, and key hospital staff, had to do in the hours after Josh's death to be prepared for the deaths and injuries we were obligated to be prepared for.

I am a damned good trauma doc. I have saved lives more than a few times, but I've lost a lot more than I've saved. I have enormous resources at my command in virtually any ER I work here in America, but resources and skill can't save the life of someone whose injuries are beyond repair. 

Josh's GSW was not survivable. If he'd been shot in the lobby of Odessa General, our closest Level I trauma center, he'd have died. But knowing that doesn't kill the sadness I feel for not being able to save him. 

I feel surrounded by loss and doubt at this time. We have had our debriefings, our group counselling session that did an enormous amount of good for the folk who do what they do in our little rural county. These folk have been overwhelmed by this situation, and I think we've accomplished the first steps in the healing for them. 

But for me, there's no one. I'm not saying this as an expectation of a pity party. But really, there's no one who can feel what I feel, other than a handful of smalltown ER docs scattered around the country. I only know a few, and tomorrow (today, really, as I type this.... it's 4 am) I will be calling the 3 or 4 guys who, like me, are small town ER docs with Big  City ER experience and attitudes to bounce this stuff off of. 

As my good friend Gail Pepin, an ER nurse, says: "If they die, they die."

She's right.

But here in Small Town America, it hurts to know she's right.

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We are getting pumped and ready for our June 22 Tactical Treatment of Gunshot Wounds class at Hennepin Tech College in Brooklyn Park MN.

If you are interested in this class and haven't made the final decision to attend, DO SO NOW!!! Enrollment is low for this class, so there is PLENTY of room for you. This class is open to both law enforcement and non-sworn civilian personnel.

Contact me a.s.a.p. by email (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) if you want to attend. I don't have to have your money up front to confirm your spot, but I do need your contact info. And your promise you'll give me your firstborn child if you fail to attend after promising to do so.

The following day, Saturday June 23, my assistant instructor Elliott and I, along with my son Luke, will be going to the DPMS "Outbreak Omega" zombie shoot down in Morristown. Any of y'all who want to join us are welcome, but their registration deadline is June 15, so you'd better get your poop in a group pronto if you want to shoot with us!


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Well, I am enjoying my first Spring down here in West Texas, and I must say it's glorious!!! Not to rub you northern fellers' noses in it, but I do not miss the long, alternately dusty and damp, chilly months of March and April as they go in Wisconsin and/or Alberta!

But weather aside, we have other things to be pleased about here at TAS this month.

First thing: I had a great block of training up in Minnesota in March with the Special Operations Training Association of the Upper Midwest (SOTA). I had the opportunity to speak at their annual convention on March 4-6, then held a Shooting with Xray Vision for SWAT class at Hennepin Tech College on 3/7.

I had the opportunity to sit in on Johan Boden's ballistics class at the SOTA conference. Johan is an old friend of mine from IDPA, and he is also the guy at Federal/Speer who demo's their ammunition ballistics all over the world. He takes the high road in his classes, meaning he does not comment on ATK's competitors. He simply demo's the Federal/Speer ammo line, which is all that really needs to be done. I am not a ballistics expert, but I've hung out with a few over the years, and I know good ballistics when I see it... and I can say without a shred of hesitancy that if you want ammo that will perform at or  beyond the established FBI standards under any patrol or SWAT  conditions you can think of, Speer and Federal ammunition will fit the bill. I have carried Speer's GDHP handgun ammunition in all my carry/duty pistols and revolvers for years, and Johan's demo at SOTA last month confirmed my choice as a good one. I have also been a proponent of the Federal Tactical Bonded .223 round for years (either 55 gr or my preferred choice, the 62 gr) and Johan demonstrated the exemplary performance of this ammunition in bare gelatin, clothed gelatin, through windshield glass, and even through automobile sheet steel. If your agency is looking at a major ammo purchase and you haven't looked closely at Speer/Federal, I strongly recommend you get hold of Johan at ATK and get him on board for a demo.

Our SXRV class at Hennepin Co. was a very good class. As usual, the background, training, and ongoing mission of the partcipants drove much of the content of the course. This was a pretty switched-on group of guys, so we were able to cover some of the more advanced material I don't usually go through in many classes, including such topics as the anatomically-correct used of edged weapons. I have tended to stay away from discussion of edged weapons in my training, but I'm getting questions about knives and other edged weapons a lot more often lately. I'm not sure that we're seeing more use of such weapons in police encounters with felons, but awareness of them is certainly increasing.

I haven't written anything about edged weapons under the Tactical Anatomy masthead to date, but I'm wondering if I should do so. Please contact me through email if you have strong opinions one way or another!

BOOK NEWS:  Some folks are waiting for books, and for this I apologize. I am part-way through a rewrite of my Tactical Anatomy Instructor Manual, which will be released as the Second Edition some time this summer. I've listened to what people have had to say about the first edition of the book and tried to incorporate new material that reflects the questions and concerns I've heard about. I have greatly expanded the educational ("adult learning theory") theme I touched on in the Introduction of the first edition, making it a chapter in its own right. I have also added a lot of material to the Computer Simulator section, and have added a Live Fire Training section as well, all of which is drawn from real-life experience with police departments around the country that are training their cops in the Tactical Anatomy SXRV system.

The Second Edition will be released as an e-book, which means I will no longer be shipping each copy out of my home. I know those of you who have had to wait on orders when I've been too busy with medical and/or SWAT team priorities to tend properly to shipping will be pleased to hear that. (... and the crowd goes wild!...) My editor/publisher is working on an all-electronic option as well, so the book may be available for downloading to your Kindle or computer, if we can get it set up right.

I will keep y'all posted here on my website when the Second Edition becomes available.

Upcoming Training: I am working with my longtime friend and training partner in Minnesota, Elliot Gilchrist, to bring a Tactical Treatment of Gunshot Wounds class to the Twin Cities region in June 2012. We are looking at the end of the week of June 18 (so 6/21 or 6/22) for this class, and depending on demand, we may schedule a SXRV for Civilians class as well. Both classes will be open to LE and non-sworn personnel. If you are interested in attending either or both of these classes, let me know by email asap so I can plan for numbers. Tuition for TTGSW is $150.00, and all training materials are supplied. Students will need to bring a change of clothes (a pair of pants and a long-sleeved shirt you can destroy), sidearm, tactical rifle/shotgun, and a modest supply of ammo. And as in all Tactical Anatomy classes, remember to bring along your brain, 'cause you're we're gonna make you use it!!

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Screen shot of Dr. Williams being interviewed by Police One TV