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Beaver County man defends carrying gun near Obama rally

| Sunday, Aug. 31, 2008

A Beaver County man says he believes he broke no laws by carrying a gun across the street from the site of a rally of Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama.

John Noble, 50, of Industry, said he was not attending the event Friday night in Beaver and wanted only to hand out fliers about gun rights.

Noble said he was in a park across from the Beaver County Courthouse with his wife, Janet, an hour before Obama arrived. He was eating an apple and holding a Bible when four officers and a police dog approached Noble, disarmed and arrested him.

He said he offered the officers fliers, but they weren't interested.

"It's my right to keep and bear arms. It's completely legal what I was doing," Noble said Saturday. "I was about to hand out some gun-right fliers. I never had a chance."

State police Trooper Shawn Schexnaildre said in a news release that Noble breached a secured perimeter of a presidential candidate political rally with a fully loaded, holstered and exposed handgun.

Noble's actions created a clear public alarm and caused a significant breakdown in rally security because officers had to leave manned security posts to arrest and disarm Noble, the trooper said.

Misdemeanor disorderly conduct charges will be forthcoming against Noble, said Schexnaildre.

Noble said he openly was carrying a Glock 9 mm semi-automatic handgun in a retention holster, which prevents the gun from being removed without activating a secret release. He said he has carried the gun every day for 23 years for protection but never has drawn it or had to use it.

"I carry it all over Beaver County, and I never had anything happen," said Noble, describing himself as a self-employed contractor who installs fencing for horses and cattle.

Noble said he has a license to carry a concealed weapon. A self-described activist and "law-abiding citizen," Noble said he has distributed fliers on gun rights to police agencies, but this was the first time he tried to do so in public.

Noble said he was shackled and held for about three hours. Police kept his gun, worth about $600, he said.

He said he has an attorney but would not provide the name. Noble said he's not sure how he'll respond to the incident.

Asked if it was wise to carry a gun near the Obama event, Noble said: "His rights don't trump mine."

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