Tuesday, June 25, 2013

A Silver Lining in the Nationwide Ammunition Shortage?

Probably not...

No mere vacation can prevent me from checking out my work-related LinkedIn groups where a peer was commenting generally on apparently excessive ammunition purchases by the Federal government.  Is the DHS deliberately buying up all the ammunition?  Even the NRA-ILA says not so much.

"[E]ven if federal agencies bought all of the ammunition for which they've recently solicited proposals, it would still amount to only about three percent of total domestic ammunition production."

Then our correspondent asked a different and more interesting question.

"Slightly off topic, but it does relate to the broad question of availability and if a lack of supply will affect acts of violence."

As is frequently my style, I approached the question from another angle altogether.

Firearms and ammunition of all kinds are being purchased at record rates by panicked gun owners who fear a government ban on the ownership of military-style self-loading rifles and high capacity magazines in the wake of the Sandy Hook massacre. This "Banic!" buying continues unabated months after all such proposed legislation was killed in committee. What gives?
Bedroom closets, basements, and garages are brimming with cases of ammunition purchased at 2-3 times the normal price by frightened, angry men who have been whipped into a highly politicized frenzy by their favorite talk radio, cable news, and YouTube personalities. Having lost all awareness of their actual privilege, they feel dispossessed, threatened, and powerless in the face of an ever-changing political, economic, and social environment. The vast majority of these men are law-abiding and peaceable citizens who will never break a law or harm another. They are addressing their uncertainty and discomfort the only way they know how.

But taken to extremes, a mindset of fear, anger, grievance, grudge, obsession, and paranoia begins to look very much like the thought processes plaguing those few who actually become active shooters, targeted school killers, and the perpetrators of mass murder in the workplace. When one of the usual psychological, neurological, or chemical triggers tips one of these troubled figures to an act of public violence will his stockpile make a difference? I hope not, but only time will tell if divisive Culture Wars rhetoric plays a role in future atrocities. 

Evidence-Based Medicine is Not the Same as Science-Based Medicine

EMDR is controversial not because it works, but why it works...

A thread at the Association of Threat Assessment Professionals (ATAP) LinkedIn group asking about research supporting the use of EMDR gave me a chance to practice my Google-fu.

I know people who have benefited from Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) and several health care professionals who recommend it for the treatment of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

The VA/DoD Clinical Practice Guideline for the Management of Post Traumatic Stress lists EMDR as an effective treatment for PTSD, while expressing the usual reservations about it's mechanism of action. It's a thorough piece of scholarship that addresses many current PTSD treatments. It's bibliography is 30 pages long. I forwarded it on to my friends and associates in the field.

A search for the terms Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing EMDR at Google Scholar returns 6,880 hits.  PubMed serves up 247 hits for eye movement desensitization and reprocessing.  Here's an interesting discussion by an insurance company (Aetna) that pays for EMDR.  The analysis is supported by a strong bibliography.

Less un-biased resources include an EMDR International Association (EMDRIA) response to the Institute of Medicine (IOM) report on “Treatment for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder in Military and Veteran Populations: Initial Assessment.”  Many of the papers in past issues of "Journal of EMDR Practice and Research" are open access.

Except for knowing people who have benefited from EMDR I have no dog in this fight, but the controversy is a fascinating example of the difference between evidence-based medicine and science-based medicine.  Again, most everyone agrees it works.  The disagreement is about understanding how it might work.