Car Accidents Aren't Homicides. Stop Pretending They Are

Glock" by mynameisgeebs is marked with CC BY-NC 2.0 DEED.

Homicides are when one person kills another. Under the eyes of the law, this can take on multiple forms, but for the most part, we tend to lump all those illegal acts under that one umbrella–though there are legal homicides as well.


Many people only seem concerned when the bad guy used a gun to kill someone else. Otherwise, they don’t seem to care.

So-called gun homicides are something many are concerned with, and from time to time, we get people who really want to try a public health approach to the issue.

In and of itself, it might not be the most horrific idea out there. There are some ways that the healthcare establishment could be helpful, such as providing counseling to shooting victims who are most at risk for becoming killers themselves, for example

But folks, this isn’t the way to sell that approach.


What seems to be missing from this discussion is how “gun violence” is different from motor vehicle crashes. After all, those differences make a huge, well, difference.

First and foremost is the fact that a car crash is generally an unintended event. Few people go out looking to have an accident, after all, and most of those fatalities back in the day were the result of a design issue within the car itself. Redesign the part and you reduce the fatalities.

But most “gun deaths” are the result of an intentional act. Roughly half to two-thirds are suicides, depending on the year with most of the remaining being homicides. Both, however, are intentional acts.

With homicides, one party generally decides to kill another. Their goal is to take a human life.

That makes it very different than a car crash where the fatality isn’t intentional.

How can you redesign a gun so that it won’t take a life? If you could do so, why would you? After all, then it’s useless for self-defense, which is why most people buy one in the first place.

And this is part of why there’s so much resistance to the whole “public health approach” to gun violence in the first place. It’s because people keep trying to treat homicides like car accidents and they’re not really that similar at all. The only reason to try to equate them, however, is to try and justify attacking the object instead of the person responsible.


A car accident might be fatal and might warrant new safety procedures, but intentional acts can’t be mitigated through features. It’s just not remotely possible to do so and we all know it.

So please, if you want to talk about public health, stop acting like the guns in and of themselves are the problem and we might be willing to talk. Until then, don’t be shocked that there’s resistance.

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