Mayor dispels rumor about Belle Meade gun ban

Wednesday, March 17, 2010 at 1:33am

After a gun rights activist walked down a Belle Meade street with a loaded pistol in his hand, the city decided it needed to clean up an outdated law on its books.

But the change has stirred a wave of opposition from gun rights groups including the National Rifle Association Institute for Legislative Action which made a post Tuesday on its website that claimed the city was trying to ban guns.

“Not only does this legislation create a victim zone inside Belle Meade by disarming law-abiding citizens, it is also a clear violation of Tennessee’s preemption statutes,” the post read in part.

The NRA-ILA urged citizens to voice opposition to an ordinance on the Wednesday city commission agenda.

“There is a rumor going around that we are going to ban handguns, guns in the city,” said Mayor Gray Thornburg.

She said the rumor is a “complete misunderstanding.” The city is merely realigning their ordinance to be in line with state regulations.

“I know that a whole bunch of people in Belle Meade own guns, and I’m sure that there are plenty who have permits to carry,” she said. “They are absolutely right. I wouldn’t violate somebody’s Second Amendment right by banning guns.”

The current Belle Meade municipal code includes a section on firearms and weapons that says “it is unlawful for any person to carry in any manner whatever, with the intent to go armed and razor, dirk, knife, blackjack, brass knuckles, pistol, revolver or any other dangerous weapon or instrument…”

It also includes the phrase “except the army or navy pistol which shall be carried openly in the hand.”

The new ordinance deletes the exception that would include the Navy black powder pistol Leonard Embody carried when he walked down Belle Meade Boulevard in mid-February.

Embody, who is active on many gun rights blogs, first gained attention in December when he brandished a loaded AK-47 pistol at Radnor Lake State Park. At the time, he said he would continue to carry — to test the state’s laws. On several blogs, he said he would go to Bicentennial Mall and to Belle Meade.

“As you probably know, he came into the city [with a Navy model 1851 black powder pistol] basically forcing our hand on the law,” Thornburg said. “The police were expecting him to come, we were expecting him to push buttons.”

She said Embody found a loophole in the law that allowed him to carry the military-style weapon, and the city is amending the law to take off the out of date exemption.

“That’s all we are doing,” Thornburg said. “We’re deleting that particular part which is very, very old. Historically, everybody had that in there.”

Thornburg said the law should have been taken off the books years ago, but likened finding outdated laws to searching for a needle in a haystack.

“We do this on a routine basis,” she said. “Every time a state building code gets changed, we change. When you’re made aware of an ordinance that’s not correct you change it. And that’s really all that we’re doing.”

The ordinance will be before the commission Wednesday on second and final reading. Commissioners can either approve it or defer it, if they think there are too many questions that need to be answered.

“This one, I don’t know,” Thornburg said. “There hasn’t been any conversation on it, but I promise you we have been bombarded with emails.”

13 Comments on this post:

By: xhexx on 3/17/10 at 6:04

"She said Embody found a loophole in the law that allowed him to carry the military-style weapon, and the city is amending the law to take off the out of date exemption."

Military-style weapon? hahahahaha Yeah, a revolver from 150 years ago.

They'd ban them if they could, but it would violate state law and invite a legal battle with the NRA. She's being a good steward of the city's money that can be put to better use for sidewalks.

By: Kosh III on 3/17/10 at 7:13

Yeah right, like Belle Meade will build sidewalks that some commoner might accidentally use and defile the city's purity.

By: localboy on 3/17/10 at 7:46

"Not only does this legislation create a victim zone inside Belle Meade by disarming law-abiding citizens..." What hyperbole - these guys would discipline a baby by cutting off its arm. People would give more credence to their arguments if everything wasn't "they'll have to pry the nuclear warhead from my cold dead fingers" screech. It's unfortunate - the NRA used to bring to mind outdoor sports like hunting; now it sounds like a cover for paramilitary activities. What a pity.

By: Nisus on 3/17/10 at 7:48

The provision that one may only carry 'the army or navy pistol' was to ensure that no black freedman would be armed. Those things were very expensive if you could find one for sale, and you don't want anybody interfering with the Klansmen doing 'God's work', do you?

This relic of the Jim Crow South should not simply be 'adjusted'; it should be purged and publicly denounced by the city council.

By: Donna1989 on 3/17/10 at 8:23

I believe I should have the right to own a gun, but I also need to respect the power it represents. If I am going hunting my gun should be visible with me in the woods, if I am taking a stroll down a public street or park I need not to alarm and panic people by displaying a weapon. How arrogant - deliberately frightening children and adults away from home enjoying family time in their community. Does “common sense” need to be a required course before purchasing a gun? Check Embody’s drinking water for lead poisoning.

By: Bo_Jangles on 3/17/10 at 8:45

"CARRYING" hand guns is POINTLESS! Using hand guns is IMPORTANT! Honestly, there really is no reason to OWN a hand gun unless you plan to USE the hand gun for what it is intended for...TO KILL PEOPLE. Owning one or many hand guns, like the gun toting and owning wackos do, is a waste of time & money. It is utterly pointless and greedy for one to own something that will rarely if EVER be used to KILL anyone! If the gun geeks truely believed that owning and USING a hand gun will better society, then I believe they should personally police each any every street each and each and every day, with no worry of consequence, and USE their own hand guns on those they feel they should KILL. If gun owners do not plan to KILL anyone in the near future, then they should volunteerly give up their weapons to authorities and let those who are PAID to police the streets do their jobs.

By: sidneyames on 3/17/10 at 9:00

Bo you are wierd in your views. If I own a hand-gun, it is to protect my home and family. I think just owning a gun does not in itself mean that a person is "planning" to kill someone. But it is my right to own a gun if I do it legally. I don't want to be over-governed and have that right taken away.

If someone walks down the street in Antioch carrying a loaded gun, who would care? Did the guy shoot anyone? If not, then no harm was done!

By: Bo_Jangles on 3/17/10 at 9:23

Sydney - Owning a gun DOES equate to killing. A guns purpose is to KILL. If you own a gun and plan to use it to "protect" your home (like someone is really going to pick up your home and take it away) or your family then YOU should plan on KILLING with your hand gun, not wounding, not threating, that person that you're protecting your home (hee, hee) and family from. If you plan on wounding or threating the "intruder" then perhaps a baseball bat or frying pan or taser would be a better choice for you. There are other forms of protection and steps one can take if one truely wants to "protect" oneself in certain situations.

By: gruntz on 3/17/10 at 11:50

Bo Doesn't Know. Your arguments are very poor. We have the law on our side and the Constitution on our side. If I tried to take away your right to assemble, you would be upset, I think. It is the same thing for the 2nd Amendment. If you try to take that away from me I'll be upset. Another reason to legally own guns that sidneyames didn't mention and which the authors of the Constitution were aiming for is that we need it to protect ourselves from tyrannical government that wants to destroy our freedoms. The authors had lived through British rule. The horrible way they were governed led to the 2nd amendment and rightfully so.

By: AmyLiorate on 3/17/10 at 2:08

Bo would have you ignore shooting targets with a pistol. Try it sometime Bo it can be fun, improve your skills, learn to relax in the great outdoors.

Meanwhile Bo, please note that 1/4 of HCP holders in this state are women. Maybe they will never pull the trigger on another person. You'd be amazed what happens when someone suspicious is hanging around and you just happen to expose your holstered weapon just a little bit.

Maybe one day Bo will be an old man and too poor to move away from a rough area of town... but for now people like Bo want to choose for the rest of us that we should be victims and not someone who prevented a crime. Isn't it funny that the gun owners aren't trying to force their will on him?

By: TN4th on 3/18/10 at 9:04

Do we really want to live in a place where many people of all stripes are openly walking around with guns???? If I were a company trying to make a relocation decision, the last place I would go would be a place like that. Good for us. We have guns, but we ain't gonna have jobs.

By: kwikrnu on 4/26/10 at 10:41

Belle Meade Commisioners passed the revised ordinance upon first reading in February. However, in both March and April they failed to vote on the ordinance. Maybe they'll take on their unconstitutional ordinance proposal in May...

There are several problems:
1. State law should preempt. The State needs to amend TCA 39-17-1314(a)
2. Unconstitutional laws such as the one in Brentwood need to be overturned.
3. Stupid, constitutional, racist laws such as the one found in Belle Meade ordinance 11-602 need to be properly amended.
4. Cops who abuse police powers and act without regard to safety need to be fired.

Audio of 911 calls and police dispatch regarding the Belle Meade incident.

By: JarvisCassandra30 on 8/25/11 at 12:31

I opine that to receive the loan from creditors you must have a great motivation. But, one time I have got a auto loan, because I was willing to buy a house.