HARWOOD, Presiding Judge.
The indictment against this appellant charged that he, having been convicted of a crime of violence, did possess a pistol, etc.
Section 174, Title 14, Code of Alabama 1940, provides that no person who has been convicted of a crime of violence shall own or possess a pistol.
The appellant filed a plea of not guilty, and a special plea setting up that in 1939 he had been convicted in this State of murder in the second degree and sentenced to a term of fifteen years in the penitentiary; and that on the 24th day of April 1950 the State Board of Pardons and Paroles had granted him a full pardon with restoration of all civil and political rights.
The court sustained the State's demurrer to the special plea above mentioned.
The evidence showed that the appellant, a few months before the trial below, did possess a pistol in his home, and further shows that he had been pardoned and his civil rights restored.
The sole question raised on this appeal by the record and evidence is whether appellant's possession of a pistol, after having been convicted of a crime of violence, is illegal in view of the pardon granted him.
The question presented is original, as far as our own decisions are concerned. We have been assisted by excellent briefs filed by counsel representing the appellant, and the State.
Counsel for appellant relies for error on statements contained in two of our cases as to the effect of a full pardon, that is a pardon with restoration of civil and political rights.
In re Stephenson, 243 Ala. 342, 10 So.2d 1, 3, 143 A.L.R. 166, was a review by our Supreme Court of a decision by the Board of Bar Commissioners denying Stephenson's petition for reinstatement to practice as an attorney. In the course of its opinion, in which the judgment of the commissioners was affirmed, the court quoting from a leading United States Supreme Court case, Ex parte Garland, 4 Wall. 333, 18 L.Ed. 366, wrote:
The other statement is to be found in Hogan v. Hartwell, 242 Ala. 646, 7 So.2d 889, 891, to the effect that by a pardon "`a person * * * is relieved from the legal consequences of a specific crime'", and that "`a full and unconditional pardon restores to the offender the customary civil rights which ordinarily belong to a citizen.'"
The language of our two cases above set out constitutes broad generalization and like all statements of generalities, will lead to paradoxical conclusions if mechanically and literally applied to every factual situation.
"If the offender really is to be treated as an innocent man after his pardon, the offense which he has committed cannot properly be made ground for removing him from the office of an attorney or trustee, or from any other office. He not only cannot be disqualified as a witness, but proof of his conviction should not be allowed to discredit him." Williston, "Does a Pardon Blot Out Guilt," 28 Harv.L.Rev. 647.
It should be noted that despite the language used in In Re Stephenson, supra, the judgment of the Board of Bar Commissioners denying petitioner's reinstatement to the bar was denied. Further in an earlier proceeding, Ex parte Stephenson, 237 Ala. 488, 187 So. 461, 462, in which this same petitioner had appealed from an order denying his reinstatement as an attorney, following his pardon from a conviction for forgery and subsequent disbarment by the judges of the Fourteenth Judicial Circuit, the Supreme Court, in affirming the order of the circuit judges, wrote:
In Terry v. State, 25 Ala.App. 135, 148 So. 157, certiorari denied 226 Ala. 685, 148 So. 159, this court held that the right to examine a witness as to prior conviction for a crime involving moral turpitude is in no manner affected by the fact that the witness has received a pardon for such offense.
The question of the effect of a pardon has often been reviewed in cases dealing with the punishment to be imposed under multiple offender statutes. One of the leading cases is People v. Biggs, 9 Cal.2d 508, 71 P.2d 214, 216, 116 A.L.R. 205. Many authorities are reviewed in the opinion in this case, and we quote the following pertinent excerpts:
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Instead of blotting out of existence the guilt of an offender, the very acceptance of a pardon is an implied acknowledgment of guilt. Burdick v. United States, 236 U.S. 79, 35 S.Ct. 267, 59 L.Ed. 476. As stated in People ex rel. Prisament v. Brophy, 287 N.Y. 132, 38 N.E.2d 468, 471,
It is well settled that the constitutional right of every citizen to bear arms in defense of himself and the State, as guaranteed by Article 1, Section 26 of our Constitution, is subject to reasonable regulation under the police powers of the State. Jackson v. State, 37 Ala.App. 335, 68 So.2d 850.
The provisions of Section 174, supra, prohibiting a person who has been convicted of a crime of violence from owning or possessing a pistol, evinces a clear intention on the part of the legislature to protect the citizens of this State from the actions of that class of persons, who by their past acts, have shown themselves unsuitable and unfit to own and possess pistols. The classification is warranted, and the provision clearly a reasonable exercise of police power. The purpose of Section 174, supra, being to protect the citizens of this State, and not to punish, this appellant is in no position to complain that because of a past act of violence he has placed himself in a class of citizens deemed unfit by the legislature to own or possess a pistol. He has himself determined his civil classification, and must abide by the reasonable restrictions placed upon the class within which he falls.
Further, a pardon has never been deemed to restore offices forfeited, or property or interests vested in others. In re Stephenson, 243 Ala. 342, 10 So.2d 1, supra.
Section 174, supra, became operative April 6, 1936. See Acts of Alabama, Extra Session, 1936, p. 51.
The effect of this act was to vest in the people of Alabama a real and vital social interest designed to enhance their own protection. Such interest vested in the society of this State upon the appellant's conviction of murder in the second degree on 30 March 1939. It cannot properly be deemed to have been vitiated or destroyed by the pardon granted the appellant in 1950.
For the reasons set out above it is our conclusion that the judgment of the lower court is due to be affirmed, and it is so ordered.