Gun laws vary widely from state to state. What may be considered a felony in one state may be treated as a misdemeanor in another. The story of an Oakland Raiders football player who was recently arrested after allegedly firing a gun near another man's head provides an interesting example of this phenomenon.
The accused man, Rolando McClain, was in Alabama on Dec. 1 to attend his grandfather's funeral. He was with a high school friend of his and another friend when he and the high school friend got into an argument. Police say that the McClain and the third man attacked the victim, giving him a concussion, broken nose and black eyes. McClain then allegedly pulled out a gun and held the barrel against the victim's head.
He reportedly threatened to kill the man and the gun went off, though it did not strike the victim. That fact is the reason when police arrested McClain in connection with the incident, he was charged with brandishing a weapon, discharging a firearm in city limits and third-degree assault, all misdemeanors, instead of felony-level assault or attempted murder. The other suspect was also charged with third-degree assault. Both posted bail and were released.
As the district attorney explained, since the victim was not injured by the gun, there were no grounds to charge McClain with a felony under Alabama law. The bullet did not strike a house or occupied vehicle, or McClain could have been charged with a felony for that.
Source: Decatur Daily, "McClain fracas no felony," Sheryl Marsh, Dec. 4, 2011