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View Full Version : PA DA: open carry = shouting fire; jury did not agree


HunterJim
07-30-2009, 8:50 AM
http://www.thepittsburghchannel.com/news/20063353/detail.html

BEAVER, Pa. -- A Beaver County jury needed two days of deliberations to acquit a man who carried a gun near a presidential campaign rally for then-Sen. Barack Obama, but John Noble never doubted that his name would be cleared.

"Followed the law, and a jury of 12 saw that I did that," Noble told Channel 4 Action News outside Judge Harry Knafelc's courtroom on Friday.

Noble had a gun and a Bible outside Obama's Aug. 29 rally in Irvine Park. He has said he did nothing wrong by trying to show that "Pennsylvanians do, in fact 'cling to their guns and religion" -- referring to a comment Obama made during a campaign event earlier that year.

"He wasn't there to disturb anyone or create a disturbance. He was there to exercise his rights on an issue he feels passionate about," defense attorney Stephen Colafella told the jury in his closing argument.

Jurors agreed, finding the 51-year-old man not guilty of disorderly conduct and disrupting a public meeting.

Outside the courtroom, Channel 4 Action News reporter Sheldon Ingram asked Noble if he would do the same thing he did the first time and solicit others to bring their guns and Bibles if the rally was held again. Noble said he would.

"It didn't need the attention and an arrest, by any means," Noble said.

We want to hear from you. Please share your feedback in the "Add your comment" box at the end of this story.

Assistant District Attorney Frank Martocci tried to argue that Noble, of Industry, has a right to free speech, but not the right to "trample" on the right of others to peacefully assemble.

"Bringing this firearm to that rally was the equivalent of yelling 'fire' in a crowded movie theater ... Carrying the firearm is not a crime. But the circumstances surrounding it make it a crime," Martocci said.

Supporters -- including Noble's daughter -- checked their guns with security at the county courthouse as they showed up to watch the man be tried.

"Myself, I don't generally open-carry at all. I concealed-carry, but I decided to open-carry to show my solidarity for John," Tom Williams told WTAE Channel 4's Sheldon Ingram.

"He wasn't in -- or intending to go into -- a Secret Service-protected area," Richard Banks told Channel 4 Action News.

"He just wanted to be on the fringes where the people were going in, saying, 'Here are our rights,'" said Noble's wife, Janet.

The criminal complaint filed by state police said that the sight of Noble carrying a weapon "created a public alarm," and police said they believed he intended to cause a disruption because he had posted on a Web site that he was taking his gun to the rally to "test what would happen."

On Wednesday, Noble testified that he had no intentions of causing problems at the Obama rally and simply wanted to be a silent protester.

"It's not their place to legislate or dictate the way you exercise your legal rights," Colella said.

John Atkinson, a Beaver County resident who reported Noble during the rally, said he believes he did the right thing.

"I also carry a firearm, and I didn't bring mine that day. In my opinion, that wasn't the time nor the place," said Atkinson.

"I believe the cops could have gone over there, talked to Mr. Noble and said, 'Sir, this guy raised a concern, and we would appreciate it if you would remove yourself from the situation,'" gun owner Larry Musgrave said.

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pullnshoot25
07-30-2009, 9:20 AM
What a bunch of sissies. That PA DA needs to get slapped with a blackjack.

Roadrunner
07-30-2009, 9:35 AM
So like California, it's legal only until some government hack says it's not on a whim? Nice.:mad:

yellowfin
07-30-2009, 9:49 AM
So like California, it's legal only until some government hack says it's not on a whim? Nice.:mad:The big difference is that in PA the community and legal system will come to your aid and smack down the government hack. PA has a pretty good record of consistently upholding 2A rights and beating back any and all attacks on them.

Roadrunner
07-30-2009, 9:58 AM
The big difference is that in PA the community and legal system will come to your aid and smack down the government hack. PA has a pretty good record of consistently upholding 2A rights and beating back any and all attacks on them.

Point taken, but it still cost money to defend himself. Until these "public servants" feel it in the wallet like the rest of us, they will keep violating the law without giving it a second thought.

bodger
07-30-2009, 10:44 AM
Gun = Evil = Criminal = Arrest.

These overzealous DAs trying to make a point and further their careers by violating citicen's rights are the ones that need to be arrested. And liable for damages in huge civil suits.

Although, PA is a pretty free state when it comes to gunnies. That DA would have to be a sheethead fool not to know that a stunt arrest like this could backfire.

Nose Nuggets
07-30-2009, 11:00 AM
"I believe the cops could have gone over there, talked to Mr. Noble and said, 'Sir, this guy raised a concern, and we would appreciate it if you would remove yourself from the situation,'" gun owner Larry Musgrave said.

They certainly could have, and likewise, Noble could have told them to shove it.