South Carolina              
Administrative Law Court
Edgar A. Brown building 1205 Pendleton St., Suite 224 Columbia, SC 29201 Voice: (803) 734-0550

SC Administrative Law Court Decisions

CAPTION:
Amir Muhammad vs. SLED

AGENCY:
South Carolina Law Enforcement Division

PARTIES:
Petitioners:
Amir Muhammad

Respondents:
South Carolina Law Enforcement Division
 
DOCKET NUMBER:
07-ALJ-20-0379-CC

APPEARANCES:
For the Petitioner:
Pro se

For the Respondent:
C. Dale Scott, Esquire
 

ORDERS:

FINAL ORDER AND DECISION

STATEMENT OF THE CASE

This matter is before the Administrative Law Court (“ALC”) for a final order and decision following a contested case hearing pursuant to S.C. Code Ann. § 23-31-215(D) (Supp. 2006), S.C. Code Ann. §§ 1-23-310 et seq. (2005), and S.C. Code Ann. § 1-23-600(B) (Supp. 2006). The petitioner, Amir Muhammad (“Muhammad”), applied for a concealed weapon permit pursuant to S.C. Code Ann. §§ 23-31-205 et seq. Respondent South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (“SLED”) denied the application pursuant to § 23-31-215(B). After notice to the parties, the court held a hearing on October 11, 2007. All parties appeared at the hearing. Evidence was introduced and testimony presented. After carefully weighing all of the evidence, the court finds that the Petitioner’s application for a concealed weapon permit should be granted.

FINDINGS OF FACT

Having observed the witnesses and exhibits presented at the hearing and closely passed upon their credibility, and taking into consideration the burden of persuasion by the parties, the court makes the following Findings of Fact by a preponderance of the evidence.

On March 18, 2007, Muhammad applied for a concealed weapon permit. One of the questions contained in the application asked, “Have you ever plead guilty, been found guilty, paid a fine, forfeited bond, been jailed or placed on probation for any offense?” In response to this


question, Muhammad checked the box for “No.” Upon receiving his application, SLED performed a background check on Muhammad. The background check revealed a criminal record report from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”) indicating that in 1967 Muhammad was convicted under the Military Selective Service Act of “failing to report to hospital as ordered to fulfill military obligation” and of “failure to report for civilian work.” As a result of these convictions, Muhammad was sentenced to two years of confinement.

Captain Clifton Weir, who testified for the Petitioner, is in charge of the regulatory section of SLED, which is responsible for processing applications for concealed weapon permits. SLED policy requires denial of an application if it contains falsified information. SLED’s policy also is to deny applications for concealed weapon permits if it determines that the applicant has been convicted of a felony. Based on the information it received from the FBI in this matter, SLED determined that Muhammad answered untruthfully about his prior convictions. Accordingly, SLED denied Muhammad’s application for containing false information and based on his previous convictions.

Muhammad provided testimony explaining his response and admitting to the convictions. Based on Muhammad’s testimony, the court finds that he did not intentionally provide false information on his application. Muhammad readily admitted at trial that he was convicted of these charges and served eighteen months in prison. He explained that he was a conscientious objector during the Vietnam War because of his religious beliefs. However, Muhammad was informed by authorities following his prison term that he “wouldn’t have to report [these convictions].” Muhammad has not been convicted of any other crimes since 1967 and pointed out that he does not have so much as an outstanding parking ticket.

Muhammad applied for a concealed weapon permit to protect himself. He testified that he completed the required SLED training and that he believes his application should be granted.

LAW

Based upon the foregoing Findings of Fact, the court concludes the following as a matter of law.

1. Jurisdiction and Review

Jurisdiction over this case is vested with the South Carolina Administrative Law Court pursuant to § 23-31-215(D), §§ 1-23-310 et seq., and § 1-23-600(B). The weight and credibility assigned to evidence presented at the hearing of a matter is within the province of the trier of fact. See S.C. Cable Television Ass’n v. S. Bell Tel. & Tel. Co., 308 S.C. 216, 222, 417 S.E.2d 586, 589 (1992). Furthermore, a trial judge who observes a witness is in the best position to judge the witness’s demeanor and veracity and to evaluate the credibility of his testimony. See, e.g., Woodall v. Woodall, 322 S.C. 7, 10, 471 S.E.2d 154, 157 (1996); Wallace v. Milliken & Co., 300 S.C. 553, 556, 389 S.E.2d 448, 450 (Ct. App. 1990).

In presiding over this contested case, the court serves as the finder of fact and makes a de novo determination regarding the licensing matters at issue. See S.C. Code Ann. § 1-23-600(B) (Supp. 2006); Marlboro Park Hosp. v. S.C. Dep’t of Health & Envtl. Control, 358 S.C. 573, 577-79, 595 S.E.2d 851, 853-54 (Ct. App. 2004); Brown v. S.C. Dep’t of Health & Envtl. Control, 348 S.C. 507, 512, 560 S.E.2d 410, 413 (2002).

2. Concealed Weapon Permit Requirements

The issuance of a concealed weapon permit is governed by § 23-31-215. To be granted a concealed weapon permit, an applicant must be at least twenty-one years of age and not prohibited by state law from possessing a weapon. § 23-31-215(A). Further, the applicant must submit a completed and signed application, a full face color photograph, proof of residence, proof of the required vision rating, proof of training, satisfaction of an application fee, and a complete set of fingerprints. Id. Upon satisfaction of these requirements, SLED is required to conduct a fingerprint review and background check, and if favorable, SLED must issue the requested permit. § 23-31-215(B). However, if the fingerprint review or background check is unfavorable, then it is within SLED’s discretion whether to issue the permit. See id.

3. Pardon

The federal constitution grants the President of the United States the power to grant pardons for offenses against the United States, except in cases of impeachment. U.S. Const. art. II, § 2. Pardons relieve individuals from the legal consequences of their crimes and the associated convictions. See, e.g., S.C. Code Ann. § 24-21-940 (2007) (defining pardon to mean that “an individual is fully pardoned from all the legal consequences of his crime and of his conviction, direct and collateral, including the punishment, whether of imprisonment, pecuniary penalty or whatever else the law has provided”). Legal consequences may include disqualifications, such as denial of a concealed weapon permit. See, e.g., Brunson v. Stewart, 345 S.C. 283, 547 S.E.2d 504 (Ct. App. 2001) (holding that upon receiving a pardon for a violent crime an individual is not precluded from owning a gun); 67A C.J.S. § 21 (2002) (“[W]here the effect of a pardon is to obliterate the conviction, a license cannot be denied to an individual on the basis of the conviction for which he was pardoned. Also, a pardon which removes both punishment and the disabilities consequent upon the conviction may include the disability to receive a permit to carry a weapon.”) (citations omitted).

On January 21, 1977, President James E. Carter, Jr. granted a full pardon to individuals who were convicted of violating the Military Selective Service Act, with two exceptions. The proclamation granting this pardon provides:

Acting pursuant to the grant of authority in Article II, Section 2, of the Constitution of the United States, I, Jimmy Carter, President of the United States, do hereby grant a full, complete and unconditional pardon to: (1) all persons who may have committed any offense between August 4, 1964 and March 28, 1973 in violation of the Military Selective Service Act or any rule or regulation promulgated thereunder; and (2) all persons heretofore convicted, irrespective of the date of conviction, of any offense committed between August 4, 1964 and March 28, 1973 in violation of the Military Selective Service Act, or any rule or regulation promulgated thereunder, restoring to them full political, civil and other rights.

This pardon does not apply to the following who are specifically excluded therefrom:

(1) All persons convicted of or who may have committed any offense in violation of the Military Selective Service Act, or any rule or regulation promulgated thereunder, involving force or violence; and

(2) All persons convicted of or who may have committed any offense in violation of the Military Selective Service Act, or any rule or regulation promulgated thereunder, in connection

Presidential Proclamation of Pardon, 42 Fed. Reg. 4391 (Jan. 21, 1977) (“Proclamation 4483”). Presidential pardons have the force and effect of law. See Indep. Meat Packers Ass’n v. Butz, 526 F.2d 228 (8th Cir. 1975) (“Presidential proclamations and orders have the force and effect of laws when issued pursuant to a statutory mandate or delegation of authority from Congress.”), cert. denied, 424 U.S. 966 (1976); see also U.S. Const. art. II, § 2 (granting the President the authority to grant pardons for offenses against the United States, except in cases of impeachment).

4. Conclusions

After carefully weighing the evidence and applying the law as discussed above, the court finds that Muhammad’s application for a concealed weapon permit should be granted.

Although Muhammad was convicted of two crimes in 1967 which generally might preclude him from obtaining a concealed weapon permit, these crimes were unconditionally pardoned by presidential proclamation in 1977. Further, Proclamation 4483 unequivocally states that individuals which were granted this pardon were restored to “full political, civil and other rights.” Presidential Proclamation of Pardon, 42 Fed. Reg. 4391 (Jan. 21, 1977). Neither of the exceptions in Proclamation 4483 appears to apply to Muhammad’s convictions.

Since pardons have the effect of removing the legal consequences of the conviction, the court finds that Muhammad did not falsify his application. Other than the two convictions that were pardoned, there was no evidence presented that Muhammad has an unfavorable background. Accordingly, the court finds that SLED must grant the requested concealed weapon permit. See § 23-31-215 (stating that once the applicant has submit the items required by subsection (A), SLED must conduct a background check and “[i]f the fingerprint review and background check are favorable, SLED must issue the permit.”); see also Brunson, 345 S.C. 283, 547 S.E.2d 504 (holding that upon receiving a pardon for a violent crime an individual is not precluded from owning a gun).

ORDER

Based upon the Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law stated above, it is

ORDERED that the Department shall GRANT Muhammad’s application for a concealed weapon permit in accordance with § 23-31-215.

IT IS SO ORDERED.

______________________________________

PAIGE J. GOSSETT

Administrative Law Judge

December 10, 2007

Columbia, South Carolina


~/pdf/070379.pdf
PDF

Brown Bldg.

 

 

 

 

 

Copyright © 2024 South Carolina Administrative Law Court