Santa Ana Homicide Garners Headlines, but Overall Gun Crimes Down
An Orange County man convicted of fatally shooting his father in an argument about whether a gun should be kept in the home was sentenced to 50 years in prison.
Despite cases like this, Santa Ana Felony Defense Attorney Houman Fakhimi knows that gun crimes are becoming more of a rarity, not only in California but throughout the country. This is, of course, contrary to perceptions that people have about offenses committed with guns - perceptions that shape future legislation, often leading to more stringent definitions and punishments.
The Pew Research Center recently released a survey indicating that more than half of Americans believe gun crime has risen since the 1990s. These crimes would include homicides, assaults and robberies.
However, federal data shows that gun crime peaked in the mid-1990s and has been on the decline ever since.
The number of homicides committed with firearms has been halved in the last 20 years. This is in line with a trend involving reductions of all types of crime, regardless of whether firearms were used.
The Bureau of Justice Statistics reports that firearm-related homicides have plummeted by nearly 40 percent between 1993 and 2011. Non-fatal gun crimes dropped by nearly 70 percent.
Still, guns are the No. 1 murder weapon in the U.S., with more than two-thirds of all homicides committed with firearms.
Less than 1 percent of crime victims reported using a firearm to defend themselves.
In spite of all this, only 12 percent of the nearly 1,000 surveyed by Pew believed that gun crimes had dipped. Nearly 30 percent believed it had stayed about the same, while more than 55 percent said it had shot up.
The obvious theory is that media coverage is fueling this notion that these kinds of violence are more pervasive than ever. Some of the most-watched news coverage last year involved the mass shootings in Colorado and Connecticut. National newscasts are more frequently focusing on crime, although local news outlets are diminishing their coverage of it.
Regardless of this drop, the U.S. still has one of the highest murder rates compared to other developed nations, and per capita has more guns than any other country.
In the case of the Santa Ana domestic violence homicide, the father and son were fighting about the issue of whether to have a gun in the home they shared. The father wanted it out. The son insisted it stay.
The 62-year-old father reportedly called police and asked them to "evaluate" his son, who was acting erratically. He made no mention during that phone call of a gun or of a physical altercation.
Officers responded, but no one answered the door, so they left. At that time, the defendant fired a single shot at his father, killing him. The next phone call made to police was by the son, informing them that he had fatally shot his father. He was later arrested without incident.
Defense lawyers at the trial had argued that it was never the son's intention to kill his father. Rather, they argued, he was suffering from psychosis brought about from his methamphetamine use.
The jury convicted him anyway - one count of felony murder, with a sentencing enhancement for the personal discharge of a firearm resulting in death.
Contact Houman Fakhimi trial attorney at (714) 705-6701 as soon as possible if you are arrested in Santa Ana.Additional Resources
OC Man Gets Life in Prison for Fatally Shooting Dad in Firearm Dispute, May 10, 2013, Staff Report, CBS Los Angeles.