'Radnor Lake Rambo' sees state suit shot down in chancery court

Wednesday, July 25, 2012 at 4:45pm

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.pdf1.13 MB
Haynes ruling in Embody v Ward .pdf1.8 MB

8 Comments on this post:

By: BenDover on 7/26/12 at 8:00

He should appeal this.

By: HamBoneHamBone on 7/26/12 at 10:27

No, he should not.

By: Kelliente on 7/26/12 at 6:56

These are the best comments on any City Paper article I've ever seen. Accurately sums up both sides of the debate without resorting to vitriol or name-calling. 9.5/10. Would read again.

By: dargent7 on 7/27/12 at 6:06

An AK-47 can hardly be classified as a "pistol". It's an assault rifle. Quite menacing.
An 1851 Navy replica would be non-threatening.

By: parnell3rd on 7/27/12 at 10:10

An ak-47 with out a buttstock and barrell less than 16 inches is by federal law a "Pistol"
An "Assault Rifle" under federal law is a rifle capible of automatic fire.
Under the Bill Clinton" assault weapons bans" an assault rifle was defined as "anything that looked like an assault rifle"
IE: gun, squirt gun, paint ball gun, rubber band gun.

By: kwikrnu on 7/28/12 at 4:19

Under federal law there is no barrel length restriction for a pistol. Under Tennessee law handguns must be less than 12 inches in length. One may possess a pistol with a 12 inch barrel in Tennessee, but may not carry it under the handgun carry permit.

I plan on filling an appeal in the lawsuit. The Chancellor ignored Tennessee case law when he invented the "in the home" ruling.

By: kwikrnu on 7/28/12 at 6:38

Also I wanted to add that I have handgun carry permits from 3 states and a federal firearms license. My federal license allows me to sell and possess machine guns and silencers without any background check. Yet, I may not carry a gun in Tennessee unless I am a resident of another state. If I were to sell my house and quit my job in Tennessee and move to Kentucky I could, under current law, carry a handgun within the state of Tennessee.

By: user0123 on 7/30/12 at 4:04

So move and become a resident of another state already. Leave, be gone and good riddance.

All of your legal efforts have been defeated repeatedly. How much more money will you waste to fight a battle you're not going to win? You are a menace to all lawful gun owners' rights, the 2nd Amendment and a menace to society and your actions are those of a crazy man who has no ability to rationalize, reason or exercise logic or common sense. Which is exactly why your Tennessee Handgun Permit has been revoked and will remain that way.

If a federal agent were to do a psychological profile on you, I have no doubt that it would reveal you to be nearly identical to the Columbine shooters in 1999. The Virginia Tech shooter in 2007 and the Aurora shooter just this past month. Your crazy internet rants and your electronic He-Man boasts justify this opinion and the majority of those who waste time entertaining your discussions would agree.

I hope your next appeal is equally denied and then you can appeal again to be denied again.