A teenager who should have been graduating high school in Huntsville has instead pleaded guilty to murder in the shooting death of a fellow classmate three years ago.
Our Birmingham felony defense attorneys understand that per a plea agreement struck with prosecutors, the teen will receive 30 years in prison, with credit for the three years he has already served.
Cases like this are more rare than one might think, but they tend to get quite a lot of media attention. Perhaps it is for this reason or perhaps also for the fervor that is kicked up by politicians when such incidents do occur that people believe gun crimes are much more pervasive than they actually are. In turn, they become more willing to enact not only further restrictions on gun law rights, but also enhanced penalties for those who are charged with crimes involving guns – regardless of whether anyone was injured or killed.
A recently-released study from the Pew Research Center found that the gun homicide rate has plummeted nearly 50 percent since its peak in 1993. However, the public is largely unaware of this decrease.
Rather, we hear more and more about mass shootings, particularly those occurring in schools or other crowded venues. However, the truth is that homicides that claimed three or more deaths between 1980 and 2008 accounted for less than 1 percent of all homicides, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics. However, it is worth noting that that figure increased from 0.5 percent of all homicides in 1980 to 0.08 percent of all homicides in 2008.
When looking at the larger issue of firearm-related deaths, in 2010 there were a total of nearly 32,000 gun deaths. The majority of those – about 20,000 – were suicides.
In addition to firearm homicides being nearly halved in the last two decades, the number of non-fatal firearm crimes too has dropped dramatically – from 725.3 victimizations per 100,000 people over the age of 12 down to 181.5 per 100,000. That is a 75 percent drop.
In spite of this, a survey conducted in March found that nearly 60 percent of Americans believe gun crime is higher today than it was two decades ago. Only 10 percent said they believed it was lower and about 20 percent said it had stayed the same. The rest said they didn’t know or weren’t sure.
The reasons for gun crime decline are multifaceted, but much of it has to do with the aging of the baby boomer generation. It’s a fact that younger people tend to commit the majority of violent crimes. America endured a time of high crime rates from the 1960s through part of the 1980s, partially because we had a substantially higher portion of younger people.
Americans could be forgiven their skewed perspective on the realities of gun crimes, but the fact is, those opinions drive policy with regard to penalties and punishments for offenders.
Murder in Alabama is a crime that is taken seriously no matter how it is committed, with the maximum sentence being the death penalty. There are currently 200 people in Alabama awaiting the death sentence. The death sentencing rate in Alabama is six times higher than it is in Texas. In fact, Alabama has the highest death sentencing rate in the country.
It doesn’t get much more severe than that.
But even crimes of illegal possession of a gun are dealt with harshly. Per Alabama Code Section 13A-11-72, no person who has been convicted of a crime of violence, either in Alabama or elsewhere, is allowed to possess a firearm, and neither is anyone who is an addict. A violation of this statute is a Class C felony, punishable by between 2 and 20 years in prison.