As ABC News described the incident:
[When her attacker was] inside, the man tackled her and began trying to cover her mouth with his hand, which she thought smelled of chemicals, the report states. He then started hitting her in the face with his fist.
After she was able to break free, Noble grabbed a pistol off the coffee table and shot the man three times before running to her neighbor’s apartment and telling her to call 911, according to the report.
Noble told police that “she feared not only for her safety but for the safety of her baby, and felt that she had no other option in this situation, according to the report.
Authorities have ruled that Noble’s use of force was justified, however she now faces 24 years in jail for her actions. Why? She previously pled guilty to a felony marijuana charge.
“Right now I’m looking at the max, 24 years, that’s my baby’s life. I mean, I’m going to miss 24 years of my child… I won’t even, I won’t even know my child, I’ll miss out on everything.”
The tragedy of Nobles’s story has several layers.
The first is that a marijuana possession is a felony charge in the state of Arkansas. It’s worth noting that there is nothing particularly unusual about Noble’s case: her and several friends were found with an ounce of marijuana and drug paraphernalia during a routine traffic stop. Since no one claimed ownership, all faced criminal charges. Facing jail time, Noble accepted a plea deal that gave her a suspended sentence and barred her from possessing a fire arm.
That Noble would face a felony from such an incident speaks to the absurdity of the continued war on drugs. It may also explain why 66 of Arkansas’s 75 counties see unusually high opioid prescriptions.
The second is how over criminalization leads to a dangerous loss of basic individual rights. In the case of Noble, the gun used to defend herself was owned by her husband, who serves is the Arkansas National Guard. In the eyes of the Arkansas “Justice” system, Noble being caught with marijuana last December meant she had no right to use her husband’s firearm to defend herself from a brutal attacker. The law would leave her a defenseless victim.
Luckily there does seem to be momentum towards restoring gun ownership rights to non-violent offenders that have been caught up in America’s justice system. Legislators at both the state and federal level have relevant pushed bills in recent years, while federal courts have also found some that blanket bans for all felons are unconstitutional.
Unfortunately for Noble, this precedent won’t apply to her case as she was still under her five year suspended sentence.