Obama Gun Protester Cleared on Disorderly Charge

Remember back during the campaign of 2008,  a guy got picked up for disorderly conduct and causing a disturbance for openly carrying a gun outside an Obama rally?  He was acquitted of all charges.  Might not have been the smartest thing in the world to do, but it’s not illegal.

12 thoughts on “Obama Gun Protester Cleared on Disorderly Charge”

  1. Having watched some of the coverage it pains me to hear over and over that he “carried a gun to an Obama rally.”

    he did not carry into any secure area. he didn’t attempt to enter the secure area. the Secret Service questioned him after the cops arrested him and decided he wasn’t a threat. he shouldn’t have been arrested, and certainly not prosecuted.

    i got to spend a bit of time with him and his other supporters yesterday (Thursday) at the courthouse. he’s a real nice guy. basically the Commonwealth of PA, and Beaver County wasted a lot of money on a 5 day jury trial for a misdemeanor that he shouldn’t have been arrested for in the first place.

  2. Gun carrry rights are promoted when we win cases like this. This action by Mr Noble may not have been wise but it was legal.

    It was understandable that local police were hyper about the safety of the candidate. However the use of DO has been substantially weakened against gun carry in GA, WI and PA in recent cases. Each sucess will breed more sucesses that OC ccan not be DO.

    Freedom is circumscribed by these little cases and not too many big actions. Winning these are important. Mr Noble had to bear he costs but his courage allowed the idea that OC even near a Presendential rally is the law despite police discomfort

  3. If I recall correctly in a case before the PA supreme court, Commonwealth V. Ortiz, they indicated that open carry is NOT cause for a Disorderly Conduct or other such charge.

  4. Sebastian,

    I went back to you related post ” Open Loss Carry in Ct”. at that time I posted:

    “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.”

    The use of DO as a weapon against OC in PA is even more weakened even with the sympathetic idea tha protection of a political candidate has priority over civi gun carry rights.

    This is an important case and like Rosa Parks, it will move forward the concept that carry is a right and as long as the carrier did not cross into the security area ,he /she can carry and gun and a bible near a rally.

    This case defines the limits the police can reasonably establish to provide a safe zone. So now is it is confirmed that the police can not arbitraily arrest a citizen for exercising his 1st and 2 nd amendment rights near a political rally.

    That is an important point to establish. I noticed at the time that the SS had checked Mr. Noble out and then was not concerned. It was the police that over reacted

    PA lost this case and the DA tried his best to make a case that OC was DO when a man plans to test out the law..

    As we did worry, the case law supported Mr Noble but the jury did take 2 days to deliberate.

    Next time they will probably not choose to prosecute an OC near a rally.

    Mr Noble was correct Obama’s constitutional rights did not trump his.

  5. Another point I wanted to make, but the previous comment was running long.

    Many in the police and various politicians do not like the fact that PA law allows OC and that now people are exercising their rights. They have had a policy of intimidation by arresting normally law-abiding folk who normally are scared of being arrested.

    The OC community in PA have been taking their courage in their hands and resisting the intimidation tactics. This is very important since rights are generally lost when people fear to use them.

    The police in many localities have been using the intimidation tactics in Ohio, VA, WI, GA, PA, all states that allow carry, to stop the progress in pro gun rights. You do not see that in states that do not have carry rights, like MD. The citizens in those states have already lost those rights from an original failure to exercise them. Probably because they thought it was not the correct thing to do was to carry a gun OC or CC. Generations have instilled that idea.

    You have disagreed with the tactics of the OC community in PA. You feared losing the rights as printed but those rights are just words if not exercised and tested.

    Melanie Hamm, Greg Rotz and Jack Noble have been exercising those rights and pushing back against the intimidation of the police.

    VCDL is vigilant to protect and expand gun rights. They have been a potent force in VA. They focus on the State legislature and the localities that cross the line like Herndon, Norfolk and Richmond. They are vigilant to contact local county attorneys about signage in parks that prohibit guns. Those county attorneys may have started out ignorant but have been educated and have conceded to the law that the state preempts and that the local communities cannot restrict gun carry.

    VCDL was not a major promoter of OC but have defended it vigorously. They do not sacrifice the OC community to the interests of the CC community but protect all forms of carry as part of gun rights.

    PA’s OC community has been more vigilant to defend and promote gun rights by their action and willingness to be arrest and fight it in court, than the CC community.

    PA law community will be less willing to continue the use of police powers to intimidate gun carriers, after this case of Mr. Noble. Because of Mr. Noble the law will be less inclined to charge OC with Do and that will promote more OC.

    Of course we are all scared of the possibility of an OC that abuses his rights and then commits a criminal act and all OC gets tarred with that association.

    But if we are to be free people then we have to accept that risk.

  6. Not sure about that state’s particular laws, but carrying a weapon concealed or not with a permit or not is to a political rally/event is illegal in some jurisdictions, such as Alabama. I think the Alabama law has something to do with preventing violence at demonstrations back during the civil rights era

  7. “but carrying a weapon concealed or not with a permit or not is to a political rally/event is illegal in some jurisdictions”

    this is true. but the important thing to remember is that Mr. Noble was NOT at the rally. he was across the street, in a public park.

    It is critical that we understand that the Police and other civil authorities may not decide to violate our rights simply because of our proximity to an event. It is a Federal law/code/statute that mandates that there be some sort of secure perimeter around Presidential and other Secret Service protected events. outside that perimeter, the cops can’t simply scoop you up, demand to see your papers, and drag you off for “questioning” just because you are carrying a gun.

    the prosecutor in this case tried to make up the law. he tried to argue that ANY lawful gathering, even an accidental gathering, that was disrupted in ANY way was grounds for a year in jail and $2500 fine. since Noble never disturbed the Obama rally in any way, the prosecutor actually argued that by causing the police to have to arrest him, Noble created a disturbance at the gathering of people across that street and should be punished.

    now exercise you logic. if Noble didn’t disturb any lawful assemblies except by being arrested, and he didn’t disturb the peace, since the PA Supreme Court has already ruled that simply carrying a firearm openly in public can’t be punished, what was the prosecutor’s intent? it was to teach us a lesson, we should not exercise our rights. he has taught us that if we are foolish enough to insist on our rights that we will be dragged 9 months through the court system, be threatened with a year in jail and $2500 in fines, and spend thousands on legal fees for a five day jury trial.

    i would never have done what Noble did, but after that “lesson,” i have to prove to him that i will not be cowed by those threats. i suggest that you all take the same attitude. whenever someone, without authority to do so, tells you that you cannot do or say something, you must do or say it anyway, just to prove that he is not the boss of you. when you bow your head and follow “orders” the tyrant has won. I’ll be damned if i let a little tin pot dictator of a prosecutor, an elected official, smack me around like that.

  8. Avtomat et al,
    At no time did Mr. Noble carry in or at the rally. Mr. Noble was well aware of the locations that were considered part of the rally area, and stayed away from them. In fact, IIRC there was security posted along the borders of the rally area, as well as security and metal detectors at the entry points to the rally. He wouldn’t have been able to enter the “rally area” even if he wanted to.

    Just because a federal political candidate enters a town doesn’t mean that the rights of that town or state are to be suspended. In fact, in keeping with the true spirit of our federal system, the federal government and its agents should respect the rights and laws of a state/town/etc., not expect said state/town/etc. to bend to the federal will in ways which the states haven’t explicitly consented.

    This man was acting in a perfectly legal way; he was openly carrying a weapon, handing out pamphlets. He was exercising his rights as per the 1st and 2nd Amendments to the US Constitution, and as per Art I Sec 7 and Art I Sec 21 of the PA Constitution. You and others can claim it was a “bad idea”, but I don’t see it. Acting illegally is almost always bad idea, but exercising rights in a legal way, even when others may not agree, is EXACTLY why we have our state and federal Constitutions in the first place. If everyone agreed with everyone’s behavior all the time, there would be no need for the protection of our rights.

  9. Well Sebastian your fears were not realized. Mr. Noble reinforced your right to OC near a Presendential rally.

    So as a strategy it was a risk but it worked. In hindsight it is easy to say a strategy was the best. Many of us feared Heller, but it worked. There is a time to take ones courage and fight the fight. Mr Noble had his and we had Heller. Mr. Levy disagreed with the timidity of the NRA and pushed a case to define the 2A. It was risky and a 5-4 vote but it has and will reap further harvests in the future.

    1. Actually, RAH, I think you are overlooking a very interesting part of the case. One of the things that sparked concern with many gun owners was Mr. Noble’s postings online before the event. They had a tone which one could reasonably read as ready to cause trouble. (Not violent trouble, just looking to challenge authority.) In a separate article on the proceedings, the judge said that all charges would have been thrown out completely if not for that evidence against him. Those posts were evidence enough to justify a trial over the issue. So it’s not a clear cut win in this case, at least for activism.

      In most of these situations, Sebastian (and other gun owners who carry) aren’t opposed at all to the right, or even standing up for your right. It’s the attitude, planning, and other outside factors that generally sparks concern.

  10. There is nothing illegal is solicitating other people to join in protesting an insult by a Presidential candidate by OC and carrying a bible. If the judge thought that was a problem then we have a bigger problem in not allowing the idea that people can have independent ideas about political philosophy.

    1. No, there’s not any about soliciting others to join you. But his tone in those posts, which even I read as questionable, was what just gave pause. There was a reasonable question as to whether or not his tone indicated that he was going with the intent of disturbing the peace. Hence, to answer that question, they had a trial. Clearly his peers ultimately found that he wasn’t likely intending to disrupt things. However, that doesn’t make his comments wise. Considering the judge was completely willing to throw out all charges outside of those messages, I don’t think you can claim that he’s representative of a larger problem.

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