Leonard S. Embody, the man dubbed the “Radnor Lake Rambo” after he openly carried his firearm at places such as Radnor Lake State Park and on Belle Meade Boulevard, is suing the state after it suspended his handgun carry permit.
In his suit, Embody claims that Tennessee’s handgun carry permit laws are unconstitutionally vague and violate his constitutional rights to bear arms and be provided due process of law. He also said that forcing citizens to get permits to carry handguns violates his Second Amendment rights.
The suit names the state Attorney General Robert Cooper and Department of Safety Commissioner Dave Mitchell as defendants. It seeks to declare certain sections of state law regarding handgun carry permits as unconstitutional and that his permit be immediately reinstated.
Spokespersons for both the state Attorney General’s Office and the Department of Safety declined to comment on the pending litigation.
Embody said in light of his suspension as well as the late June U.S. Supreme Court opinion in McDonald v. Chicago, which appeared to heavily restrict state and local authorities’ abilities to limit the right to bear arms, he’s challenging the state laws on carry permits.
“Basically what I’m doing, is — since they took my handgun carry permit without due process and without a good reason — I’m challenging the fact that the Supreme Court of the United States at the end of June said that it’s an individual right to keep and bear arms, and the Tennessee law is in violation of that because it prohibits handguns and they criminalize it.”
Embody, 38, is also challenging a section of state law that the Department of Safety cited as a reason to suspend Embody’s handgun carry permit, stating that he “poses a material likelihood of risk to the public” based on information provided by the Belle Meade Police Department.
Belle Meade officers stopped Embody in January as he walked along Belle Meade Boulevard while carrying an AK-47 pistol. Authorities also stopped him in December at Radnor Lake State Park.
Embody said the law providing a “material likelihood of risk to the public” as means for suspending a permit is unconstitutionally vague, saying that a judge would normally determine if the permit of someone facing criminal charges should be suspended pending the trial. Someone acquitted of a felony, for instance, could have a permit reinstated following the trial, he said.
But for someone such as Embody, who hasn’t been arrested, reinstatement is vague, he said.
“In cases like this,” Embody said, “where the Department of Safety says they can suspend my handgun carry permit based upon a ‘material likelihood of risk of harm to the public’ the statute says nothing about when I’m supposed to get that permit reinstated.”
Embody, who lives in Brentwood and has held a carry permit since 2001, first filed suit against the state Attorney General’s Office and the Department of Safety on May 25 in Williamson County, but it was transferred to Davidson County last week after the Attorney General’s Office argued in court filings that Davidson County was the proper venue for suits against the state.
The Department of Safety suspended Embody’s handgun carry permit on March 10, and he subsequently requested a hearing be held regarding the suspension. That was previously set for Aug. 6 according to the Department of Safety but was deferred to Dece. 3 based on Embody’s request.
Of his past run-ins with police, Embody said he wasn’t trying to provoke them — “everywhere I go I carry open, for the most part.”
He later added, “In several cases now, they appear to either not know the laws or they don’t like people to open carry a handgun — and they violate their civil rights.”
Now following the McDonald ruling and the suspension of his permit, Embody said he has the standing to challenge state law.
“My ultimate goal is to change the law in Tennessee now that I have standing to challenge this in court,” Embody said, adding that the Department of Safety gave him that standing by taking away his permit.