BEAVER, Pa. - A western Pennsylvania man has been cleared of criminal charges after bringing his handgun to a campaign rally for President Barack Obama. John Noble, of Industry, wore the 9 mm on a holster and carried a Bible to the August rally to protest Obama's remark that Americans who felt left out by the system clung to guns and religion. The rally was in Beaver, about 30 miles north of Pittsburgh.
Tom Williams, a Pennsylvania Firearm Owner's Association member, drove three hours from Port Allegheny in McKean County to support Noble – a man he has never even spoken to. "I support the Second Amendment, I support John's right to open carry," he said. "He didn't break any laws. I think if any laws were broken it was the police who unjustly arrested him."
Williams hopes to make the three-hour trip again on Wednesday for Noble's trial. Richard Banks, founder of www.PAopencarry.org, traveled 300 miles from Luzerne County to support the 51 year old.
"It seems pretty simple to me," Banks said, his gun in a holster at his side. "A lot of people congregated knowing that this rally was happening in a nearby adjacent area to make statement either for or against the candidate. They had signs … and Jack's statement was a little simpler, but just as protected."
Banks said he carries a firearm routinely and maintains a concealed carrying license, just as Noble does.
Police said the 51-year-old Noble wanted to be disruptive. They say he posted on the Internet that he was taking the gun to "test what would happen." Friday, a jury acquitted him of a disrupting a public meeting and a judge acquitted him of disorderly conduct, but called his actions foolish.
Noble wasn't charged with gun offenses because he was legally carrying it.