Open Carry Loss in Court

Looks like the guy who got arrested open carrying at an Obama rally is going to trial:

District Judge Douglas Loughner ruled in Beaver County Court Monday that John Noble, 50, of 1063 Willowbrook Drive should stand trial on misdemeanor charges of disorderly conduct and disrupting a public meeting, stemming from the Sept. 29 rally for Democratic presidential running mates Barack Obama and Joe Biden.

The stakes are high on this.  If the state prevails in court here, people who open carry in a public place will be risking being arrested for disorderly conduct.  This is a big part of the reason I’ve been a pain in the ass about not provoking confrontations unnecessarily.  It was entirely predictable that trouble was to be found going to an Obama rally openly armed.  I think there’s no ground for the charges brought.  I really hope a judge agrees with that, or we’re all screwed.

21 thoughts on “Open Carry Loss in Court”

  1. I can’t agree strongly enough!

    Rosa Parks, get to the back of the bus bitch!

  2. I could not agree with you more Sabastian. I am a firm believer that a right not exercised is a right denied but there comes a time when one has to use commonsense and an Obama rally was not the place to prove a point. And should Obama win, there may not be enough judges left that respect the constitution to save us from folks like these or the people in government who wrongly charge them with a crime.

  3. As long as he has a competent attorney he will not lose on the disorderly conduct charge. The law itself as well as the case law is clear on the matter. I also think he will prevail on the meeting charge also.

  4. Sebastian is right. This guy doesn’t even begin to compare with Parks. If you know you’re trying to start a confrontation on a rights matter, it’s important to have your strategy worked out in advance with expert – not just competent – legal advice and representation. It would appear that’s not the case here.

    If you want a better understanding of considering legal strategy before you act, and the benefit that comes with it, read The NAACP’s Legal Strategy against Segregated Education. It was not a simple matter to defeat.

  5. What I don’t understand, he wasn’t in the “safe zone.” He wasn’t in the area that Obama was going to be speaking at. He was across the street. This must be the stupidest judge in the whole state.

  6. If Obama wanted to demonstrate his ‘pro-gun-owner’ agenda then his campaign should have asked the police to drop the charges. Then again, Pelosi should have done the same for the hunter who had the misfortune of sharing a hotel room in the same hotel as her.

    Their silence is interesting. Note how vocal they get if a real criminal is facing the death penalty, etc…..

  7. I wouldn’t be too quick to condemn the guy in VA. He’s already won settlements from the city of Norfolk for being wrongly arrested. I think we’re fine there…this will probably end up being a good thing in that case. The more the cops get slapped by judges and the more cities have to fork over settlements for arresting people for something that’s been perfectly legal for pretty much…forever in VA, the less likely future incidents become.

    VCDL knows what its doing, I can assure you.

  8. They might have been more concerned about the Bible the group was carrying.


  9. If I’m not mistaken, PA has some case precedent that establishes that mere lawful open carriage of a firearm is not inherently disorderly conduct/etc.

    If that’s true, then the case will turn on other factors unrelated to arms.

  10. It is legal to open carry or it is not. If legal, there was nothing wrong for the man to carry. It is a political statement near a political rally. He can even claim it is a 1st amendment question if this goes farther as a civil right violation.

    Now was it smart, maybe not. But he had the right and he exercised it now he has to back that up with an attorney and a court hearing. Hope he wins, the case law is on his side.

    There comes a time that people have to stand behind their rights, For Mr. Noble this is his time. I do see the similarities for Rosa Parks. A civil right is just that. It does not matter if it a seat on the bus or a walk in a park.

    However we as gun rights supporters should support him since he was exercising a right we all hold dear.

    I do believe that political rallies with the inherent dangers of assassination have implications to carry rights.

    This may have been as good as any time to challenge the assumption that open carry and rallies do not mix. After Obama wins it may be too late to try this attempt successfully. Lets consolidate our rights as much as possible.

    Sebastian you are getting weak on carry rights and issues. It is better to know if this is legal or not.

  11. RAH:

    I’m sorry, but things aren’t that simple. You’re talking about a right that’s, quite honestly, very poorly defined by precedent, both federally, and in Pennsylvania law. You can believe you have a right to openly carry a firearm outside the secure area at an Obama rally and hand out literature, and I would agree with you. But in terms of defining the right, it’s a poor test case, because you’re going to have judges looking for reasons that this is a reasonable exercise of police powers.

    This case puts in jeopardy the open carry rights of every single Pennsylvanian, because this one guy thought it was wise to go make a point. If the state prevails here, it’s the beginning of the end for open carry in Pennsylvania, because any public complaint your carriage causes will cause you to risk disorderly conduct.

    Whether we like it or not, judges do not think the way we do. Believing, with all our might, that we have a right to do something is not in any way meaningful if you can’t get the people who wear robes to agree with you. I want them to agree with us, which is why it was stupid to make a point like this. The outcome was entirely predictable.

    Don’t get me wrong. I hope the state loses, but this guy just handed the state a fantastic opportunity to limit open carry in this commonwealth. If these guys want to play this game, fine, but they need a strategy. What they have now is not a strategy, except for losing.

  12. Does this man have a website, so we can judge his actions and strategies for ourselves?

  13. I agree that this case could more clearly define the open carry limitations or not. But precedent is made by case law and this will be one of those cases. Ambiguity is not always helpful. In order to address concerns the legislature may want to address legitimate security concerns and open carry rights. Many court cases are defining the line between competing rights or interests.

    Myself, I would never have done this as I consider it an invitation for being hassled. However gun rights are being defined by these cases in PA and VA.

    Norfolk PD has yet to accept the right of open carry among its black residents. There are dangers in open carry as there is no logical reason that criminals will not also use the right to open carry and do it in public. Once that becomes an issue, open carry may be limited unless strongly resisted and the risks accepted that both bad guys and good guys could use this right.

    I have heard too many people say that only good law abiding people carry a gun openly. Once that is accepted public behavior and police are restrained from questioning the carrier it is logical that criminals will do it also.

    This is a concern that the antis bring up and it is a valid point. The issue is that with rights are risks and as free people we have to embrace the risks in order to enjoy the rights of being free.

    However the VCDL as an organization has been extremely effective in defining the right to open carry and that was not even their intention originally. It came about because of the screwy requirement of open carry in restaurants that offer alcohol.

    Pennsylvania seems to be next battleground state to vehemtly exercise open carry and Mr. Noble is this next test case. We are naturally scared of losing but without the fight we cannot win also.

    The same fear was prevalent in Heller’s case by the NRA that were scared that if it went to the SC that we would lose. But without that risk we never could win either. That case is now being fought in a variety of courts throughout the land to consolidate the gains.

    The parallel strategy is in the legislature and as you have shown that has been has been successful in PA. But state law is nothing but words unless acted upon.

  14. I fear I am of two minds here. Yes, he is [largely] in the right.

    Yet… You have a 1st Amendment right to wear a T-Shirt with a Holocaust-denial statement printed on it. But if you wear it to a Young Men’s Jewish Association fundraiser you might well be found guilty of overstepping that right.

    Not a good analogy, I know, even given the anti-gun positions of the candidates (“OK for me and cops, but not for you”). Still, I suspect he would have gotten into the same trouble if it had been a McCain//Palin rally.

  15. After the Civil War white folk would ride around in “militias” and attack homes where the colored folk had guns. Eventually, the women in these families wouldn’t allow the men to bring guns into their homes anymore. Now the blacks are some of the most anti-gun folk out there. Anyone besides me feel there is a strong enough correlation to maybe feel say there is a possible causation? I right unexercised is a right lost.

    Was that little black lady who wouldn’t move to the back of the bus trying to not scare the white folk? Or did she have more balls then you do? (Yeah fine, ban me, I admit that is pointed. But I find appeasers of all sorts to be rather closely related to the Jews of pre-war Germany.) If a person chooses to fight the fights that you are scared to fight, at least keep your mouth shut rather then try to act like you are some how keeping the good fight to cover your cowardliness.

  16. Have you read about the history of the civil rights movement? It wasn’t random people getting themselves arrested. They had a legal strategy, they had brilliant attorneys who spend their careers fighting this stuff systematically, and with forethought.

    The open carry movement in Pennsylvania does not have a strategy, except for losing. It started out smart. I supported it for a while. But no longer. I will never stop supporting the believe that open carry ought to be legal, because I think it is a right. I will never stop supporting people who open carry, who weren’t looking for trouble, who find themselves in hot water with law enforcement. But I’m not sitting back quietly any longer when people insert themselves into situations that’s guaranteed to turn out badly, and then shout “Look at me!”

    If you want to sit there with your smug satisfaction that you’re better than everyone else because you’re standing up to the man, you’re welcome to it, but you guys are endangering the rights of everyone by provoking these stupid and unecessary confrontations with law enforcement and the media.

  17. Don’t scare the white folk. I can’t say it’s stupid. But, I can say that I will sit here in smug self-satisfaction over the fact that I will not go timidly into the night. (But, then I don’t face quite the same hostile crowd here in Az that you Pa’s do. So my open carry is more a proactive reminder then a reactive whatever. *Shrugs* Maybe I am talking out my A.)

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