The rule of law or the rule of the police?

The trial of John Noble for the legal activity of carrying a firearm openly to a political rally began today.  He is charged with misdemeanor charges of disturbing the peace and disrupting a public meeting, neither of which appear to have any basis in fact beyond his presence at the rally distributing literature and openly carrying his firearm.  (The arresting officer even described him as "pleasant gentleman").

What disturbs me about this case, beyond the so-called authorities exceeding their legal authority, is the fact that the police were called by someone else there with a concealed carry permit:
Prosecutors called John Atkinson Sr. of Vanport Township, the first person to spot Noble in a crowd of about 300 people standing in Beaver?s McIntosh Square... Atkinson said Noble had a semiautomatic 9mm handgun holstered on his right hip and was carrying a Bible. Noble crossed under a police tape cordoning off the park and began distributing literature... Atkinson, who has a license to carry a concealed weapon and has been a gun owner most of his life, said he immediately hailed a sheriff?s deputy and pointed out Noble, who was arrested on the spot.

?He had every right to (have the gun), but in my opinion, this was a presidential rally, and that isn?t the right time or place to carry a firearm,? Atkinson said.

I have a little sympathy for Atkinson's position.  There are legitimate security concerns involved, but the appropriate way to handle that is to ask people who attend armed to leave their weapons outside the secure area or leave the event, not bring charges against them for a legal activity. 

There have been quite a few cases where open-carry activists have been arrested for peacefully going about their business armed.  They usually end in vindication for the gun owner, but not always... and fighting charges, even baseless misdemeanor charges, is expensive and time-consuming.  There's a definite discouraging effect and I suspect that's the point. 

If we can be arrested for activities that aren't against the law, do we have the rule of law or the rule of the police?

This entry was published Wed Oct 08 10:12:06 CDT 2008 by TriggerFinger and last updated 2008-10-08 10:12:06.0. [Tweet]

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