Patsone v. Pennsylvania,
232 U.S. 138 (1914)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Patsone v. Pennsylvania, 232 U.S. 138 (1914)

Patsone v. Pennsylvania

No. 38

Argued November 4, 1913

Decided January 19, 1914

232 U.S. 138


The Act of May 8, 1909, of Pennsylvania, making it unlawful for unnaturalized foreign born residents to kill wild game except in defense of person or property, and, to that end, making the possession of shotguns and rifles unlawful, is not unconstitutional under the due process and equal protection provisions of the Fourteenth Amendment.

Page 232 U. S. 139

A state may protect its wild game and preserve it for its own citizens. Geer v. Connecticut, 161 U. S. 519.

A state may classify with reference to the evil to be prevented.

The determination of the class from which an evil is mainly to be feared and specialized in the legislation is a practical one dependent upon experience, and this Court is slow to declare that the state legislature is wrong in its facts. Adam v. Milwaukee, 228 U. S. 572.

A state may direct its police regulations against what it deems the evil as it actually exists, without covering the whole field of possible abuse. Central Lumber Co. v. South Dakota, 227 U. S. 157.

The provisions in Article II of the treaty with Italy giving citizens of Italy the right to carry on trade on the same terms as natives of this country, and provisions in the treaty with Switzerland, applicable to citizens of Italy under the favored nation clause in Article XXIV of the treaty with Italy, relate to trade, and are not applicable to personal use of firearms, and a state statute protecting wild game and prohibiting aliens from owning shotguns and rifles is not incompatible with or violative of such treaty provisions.

Quaere, and not to be decided on this record, whether the statute in this case can be construed as precluding an alien from possessing a stock of guns for purposes of trade and whether, in that event, it would violate rights under the treaty with Italy of 1871.

Equality of rights assured to citizens of Italy under the treaty of 1871 is that of protection and security for persons and property, and nothing in that treaty purports or attempts to prevent a state from exercising its power for preservation of wild game for its own citizens.

231 Pa.St. 46 affirmed.

The facts, which involve the constitutionality of the wild game statute of Pennsylvania making it unlawful for any unnaturalized foreign born resident to kill wild birds or animals and the validity of such statute as applied to an Italian citizen in view of the treaty with Italy, are stated in the opinion.

Page 232 U. S. 143

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