Updated: 5:05 p.m.
The man whose penchant for challenging state gun regulations by walking around public places armed with a loaded gun has lost another legal challenge.
In granting a motion for summary judgment by state Attorney General Robert Cooper — named as a defendant in the case — Chancellor Russell T. Perkins dismissed Leonard S. Embody’s claims on Monday, concluding they were without merit and that Embody failed to show his rights had been infringed upon. [Click here to view Perkins’ ruling.]
Embody’s suit in Davidson County Chancery Court challenged a section of the Tennessee Code Annotated that “prohibits ‘the carrying of firearms for the purpose of going armed’ by persons not otherwise permitted to carry firearms by statutory exception or defense.”
The man dubbed the "Radnor Lake Rambo" claimed the state statute was vague and violated his constitutional rights.
In Perkins’ analysis of the challenge, he cited other court decisions, including the Tennessee Supreme Court’s ruling, that strongly caution against invalidating state laws on facial challenges of constitutionality. Perkins wrote, “a party challenging at statute’s constitutionality on its face has the burden of showing that the statute is invalid in all its applications.”
Furthermore Perkins opined that “the standard of review … in analyzing this presumptively lawful statute is intermediate at best, as the statute does not implicate the core fundamental right protected by the Second Amendment,” being the right to keep firearms for the purpose of defending one’s home.
Tennessee state law, Perkins wrote, "clearly outlined what weapons-related activities" were illegal as well as the applicable defenses and also made clear the enforcement guidelines of such laws, countering Embody’s claim that state law was overbroad in its reach.
Of Perkins’ ruling, Cooper said, “We are gratified that the Court upheld the constitutionality of reasonable laws regarding firearms outside of the home in the interests of public safety and crime prevention.
In response to Perkins ruling, Embody said, "I'm surprised that the Chancellor departed from the long standing case law in Andrews v. State and Glasscock v. Chattanooga. To say that law abiding people with no criminal records may be prohibited from bearing arms for defense is absolutely contrary to the Second Amendment and the Tennessee Constitution. I'll appeal his decision."
Embody made headlines in December 2009 for dressing in camouflage and carrying an AK-47 pistol in Radnor Lake State Park and a couple weeks later for carrying an 1851 replica Navy pistol as he walked along Belle Meade Boulevard.
In both cases, he was stopped and questioned by law enforcement officers, the first by State Park Ranger Steve Ward. Embody later sued Ward for violating his Second Amendment rights as well as his 14th Amendment rights which preventing unreasonable seizure, stemming from the hours-long detainment in the Radnor Lake incident.
Federal Judge William Haynes ruled against Embody in July 2011, stating in part, “Given that Plaintiff was in personal possession of a loaded weapon in a public park, the Court concludes that the temporary seizure of Plaintiff’s weapon did not violate the Second Amendment.” http://nashvillecitypaper.com/files/citypaper/Haynes ruling in Embody v Ward .pdf">[Click here to view Haynes’ ruling.]
In January 2011, Perkins dismissed Embody’s claim against the state, writing that the section of state law mentioned in the complaint was “within the regulatory powers of the state and bears a well-defined relation to the prevention of crime by regulating the manner in which a firearm may be carried.”
But just a month later, Perkins overturned his own decision when Embody filed what the chancellor called a “respectful, well-crafted” motion to alter or amend the judgment. The case continued up until this week.
|Perkins ruling on Embody suit.pdf||1.13 MB|
|Haynes ruling in Embody v Ward .pdf||1.8 MB|