Gun rights activist sues state after carry permit revoked

Monday, August 2, 2010 at 8:01pm

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.

80 Comments on this post:

By: sw9ve on 8/4/10 at 9:21


Unless signs now have the ability to keep criminals out, I don't see where public parks are any more exempt from crime than any other place.

I carry EVERYWHERE I am allowed by law, including parks, church, and nonposted restaurants that serve alcohol.

I don't see any difference in carrying openly in a park over the grocery store.

By: producer2 on 8/4/10 at 9:34

Yes I am very aware of how dangerous the soccer moms, hikers, and naturalist can be in the middle of the afternoon in Brentwood.....

By: sw9ve on 8/4/10 at 9:44

Producer, I have given you very well-reasoned and logical responses. I think it's very obvious that I am not referring to hikers, naturalists, or soccer moms.

Either you didn't read my post very well or you just decided to take a cheap shot and go for a little self-indulgent mockery. How nice.

By: Cookie47 on 8/4/10 at 9:48


It's obvious from your posts you don't like guns or those of us who carry. Rather than spew your sarcastic words against us that carry why not go after the criminals that couldn't care less about the signs on a restaurant door or at a park entrance?

Also, don't lump all HCP holders into the same category as kwikru (Embody). As you can read, we police our own. How would you like to be lumped into the same category as some of the anti-gun liberals at spew their words without even knowing what they speak about? That's where you're heading.

Before starting your sarcasm against guns and those who carry, I ask that you educate yourself as to why we carry first. Then, by all means, bring it on.


By: producer2 on 8/4/10 at 10:50

So you are telling me that Radnor Lake is a well known dangerous place to be? It would be great if you could give me some statistics showing how HCP holders have either thwarted crimes or were able to successfully defend themselves from someone attempting to commit a crime against them.

I have nothing against people obeying the law, I just would like some backup on how the ability to carry has been helpful in aiding the citizenry of this Country.

By: sw9ve on 8/4/10 at 11:14

Google is your friend:

By: Cookie47 on 8/4/10 at 11:26

Thanks sw9ve. Now, the question is will Producer2 actually look at the site?


By: sjgarner on 8/4/10 at 11:43

Here is a rhetorical question for you P2. Are you telling me that there is not a snowball's chance in you know where of me, "a little old lady", getting mugged, raped, robbed, or otherwise attacked in Radnor Park or anywhere else in this city, state, or country, and that it is ridiculous and ludicrous for me or any other citizen to have an HCP or even the right to own and bear arms? Is that what you are saying, sweetie? Because is it is, I have some swamp land in New Mexico I would like to sell you. You better wake up and smell the coffee, son! I wonder why our founding fathers thought it was so important for us to have that particular right? So important, in fact, that they wrote it in the Constitution! Jee Whizz!! Where did you go to school?


By: producer2 on 8/4/10 at 12:13

My aren't we an angry bunch. Look I never stated that you or anyone else should not have the right to bear arms. What I did say is that the gentleman in question, in my opinion, was going out of his way to incite an incident. I do believe it is ridiculous to enter any public setting with an AK-47 pistol, painted orange, strapped across your chest.

Now as to your link. I did go through several of the stories and just as I suspected, 100% of what I saw were folks defending themselves in their homes or place of business. Not one that I read talked about a citizen either defending himself or someone else in a park, a restaurant or any other scenario. Not saying that can't happen but you would think that a website entitled Armed Citizen would be the first place you would find those stories.

This has become all about "It's my right and you can't stop me" instead of people using common sense. It falls right in line in mirroring the rest of our society including our political system. Each on caring more about not allowing the others agendas to work instead of doing what is right and sensible for this nation. Only time and the court system will tell the story on this particular incident.

By: sw9ve on 8/4/10 at 12:27

"This has become all about 'It's my right and you can't stop me' instead of people using common sense."

Not unlike some people's idea of the First Amendment. There's no shortage of people with diarrhea of the mouth.

There is such a thing as exercising one's rights responsibly.

By: producer2 on 8/4/10 at 12:42

Good comeback!

By: sw9ve on 8/4/10 at 12:45

"Now as to your link. I did go through several of the stories and just as I suspected, 100% of what I saw were folks defending themselves in their homes or place of business. Not one that I read talked about a citizen either defending himself or someone else in a park, a restaurant or any other scenario. Not saying that can't happen but you would think that a website entitled Armed Citizen would be the first place you would find those stories. "

It's just hilarious to me that some people like to claim that they can tell when and where one will encounter trouble. The simple fact is that you don't know, and neither do I. Do you know when you are likely to have an auto accident and when you aren't? I don't. That's why I wear my seat belt 100% of the time. Likewise, I don't know where and when I may encounter someone who decides I am an easy target, so I carry my firearm 100% of the time according to law. I can guarantee you that anyone who has been attacked, no matter where it was, didn't expect it. Had they somehow known in advance that they would be attacked, they wouldn't have gone there in the first place.

It's really not a hard concept, Producer.

By: producer2 on 8/4/10 at 1:01

I do know that if I stick my car out in the middle of an intersection and paint it orange, it will probably get hit. You keep wandering from the point of this conversation. I don't care if you carry, just do it where your weapon is not strapped to your plain site!

By: Cookie47 on 8/4/10 at 1:28


Tennessee is NOT a conceal state. We can wear our pistols out in the open for all to see. If the police show up, we show them our HCP and, as long as no laws are broken, we're good to go.

Embody did not break any laws by carrying across his chest. He did, in my opinion, show bad judgment and scare the hell out of a lot of people but that's not a crime.


By: producer2 on 8/4/10 at 1:48

Cookie47 said:
"If I were to open carry my Springfield XD9 at Radnor, I would expect to be looked at funny by some and fearful by others. I would also expect to be approached by a Ranger and/or LEO and questioned. I choose to carry concealed so NOT to draw attention to myself or my family."

So then you admittedly break the law?

By: sw9ve on 8/4/10 at 1:56

Producer, the point is that it if no law has been broken, then you just need to get over it, or write your representative and get the law changed. If someone carrying a handgun openly scares you, then you either need to educate yourself or go home and lock your doors.

By: sjgarner on 8/4/10 at 2:05

Bravo sw9ve! I couldn't have said it better!


By: producer2 on 8/4/10 at 2:09

nice deflection but I was asking cookie47 a direct question. If carrying a concealed weapon is unlawful then please explain the post. Seems simple enough to me.

By: not_guilty on 8/4/10 at 2:33

I support the right to keep and bear arms. After all, not everyone is blessed with the combination of brains and gonads that it takes to walk around unarmed.

Let those law-abiding folks who need their phallic symbols have them.

By: Cookie47 on 8/4/10 at 2:56


No, I have NOT broken any law. Radnor Lake Park is a STATE natural area and it is LEGAL for me to carry there. Nice try but no cigar. Please see below as to whether or not I've broken the law.

While State Parks' rules and regulations prohibit firearm possession and use, Public Chapter 428 of 2009 created an exception in state firearms law that allows individuals with a valid "carry permit" under TCA § 39-17-1351 to carry a handgun within the boundaries of all state parks. While this new law makes an exception for possession, it does not make exception to the use of a firearm. Discharging a weapon in non-designated areas of our parks is still an offense. If a permit holder fires a weapon in self-defense, the holder bears the burden of proof to avoid potential charges under "prohibited firearm use."

Pulled from:

TN is NOT a conceal state thus a HCP holder does not have to carry concealed but it is encouraged by HCP instructors as well as LEOs.. My point was I carry concealed so not to alarm anyone or draw attention to myself. I could carry in full view legally but I don't so not to scare the anti-gunners and make them wet their pants.


By: GUARDIAN on 8/4/10 at 6:44

I knew Embody was setting a trap I didn't think a LEO dept. or the state would fall in. LOL OHWELL

By: sw9ve on 8/4/10 at 8:24

Not Guilty: There are many women who carry. Are they carrying phallic symbols too? And please try to come up with something a little more original, OK? That one has been beaten to death, and it's boring.

By: birdperch on 8/4/10 at 10:20

Just because a state laws allows for carrying a handgun openly, does not make it a wise decision. As an anti-handgun advocate, I do understand the law and owner rights. But as previously stated above, most Americans are afraid of guns, because guns kill and the majority of those injured or killed by guns are by handguns. 4 out of 5 Americans will experience some type of gun violence in their lifetime: either heldup, shot or killed. I am now an American statistic: Three kids, two guns, one to my wrist, another placed on my right temple. Had I been a gun carrier, would I really have had time to say, "Hey guys, could you hold that thought a minute," then Eastwood-like whip out my gun against their two? Maybe I would have gotten a shot off as they ran away....if they didn't pat me down. Statistically, today's robbers travel in groups, rarely solo anymore. Yes, gun toting in America is legal and always will be, but your HCP claim for owning a handgun for self defense is really a false sense of security. Statistics show that. And yes, the kids weren't permit holders, but we all know where their guns come from. Sorry, gang. I wish handguns were traded in for bow and arrows. It much more manly and sportsman-like. Good luck with your lawsuit. Unfortunately, some of our tax dollars will now be involved in your case.

By: sw9ve on 8/5/10 at 7:17

birdperch, I've heard this argument hundreds of times, and it still doesn't pass scrutiny.

There are hundreds of cases on the books where someone with a firearm successfully defended themselves or someone else from a violent criminal. The simple fact is that the vast majority of them are not reported on the news because it does not support most of the news outlets' anti-gun agendas. Making the claim that no one would have a chance at self-defense at any time is just an attempt to rationalize stricter gun laws and ultimately, confiscation of firearms.

Each case is different. No, I might not be able to defend myself, but I refuse to go willingly, and I refuse to be a victim. Common sense tells me that I at least have a chance at survival if I have the means of self-protection. I don't, however, remember reading a single instance where someone legally carrying a firearm was attacked and their weapon was stolen from them.

A handgun in the hands of someone who knows how to use it at can at least level the playing field.

By: Cookie47 on 8/5/10 at 7:23


You're a typical anti-gunner. Guns don't kill people. People kill people. Most people that experienced what you did would go the opposite direction you did.

The HCP holders I know had something happen in their lives that made them decide to get their HCP. I got mine to keep from becoming a statistic.

What happened to you was unfortunate but you shouldn't advocate the rest of us losing our rights because of what happened to you.


By: jamar3030 on 8/5/10 at 9:42

"The law is the law". I personally hate this statement, but all you anti-gun pro "lawful order" people out there use this all the time to defend cops gone wild. Well, in this guys defense the law is the law. If the law says he can carry a gun, he should be able to as long as he hasn't hurt others-- which he hasn't.

Screw your psycho analysis. If he can be psycho analyzed before carrying a gun, you should be psycho analyzed before driving you car because cars kill more people then guns do.

By: sjgarner on 8/5/10 at 10:23


What happened to you is absolutely awful! You must have been utterly terrified! I know I would have been. I am so sorry you suffered something like this, but you know, the criminals will always have guns. We could ban them, collect them from all of the law abiding folks, raid every census-registered home, and then melt them all down, but the criminals would still find a way. LIT60s

By: birdperch on 8/5/10 at 3:06

Haa. I knew that standard line would come up. 'Guns don't kill people. People kill people." Obviously!! Just like cars themselves don't kill people. As Chris Rock says, bullets should cost $100/ea and maybe then there'd be less deaths/injuries. Guns will always be in America. We just need to respect what can be done with them, if possible.

Most of the people I know who have been heldup, shot at or injured, (quite a lot) did not go and buy a gun. That fear is what causes an increase in gun ownership. Fear, and guns, beget guns. Fact. If there were no guns and the bad guys carried knives, then the fear would purport knife ownership. (Yes, I do have friends with guns and some with a plethora.) How many people posting here have been assaulted with a gun? Or knows someone who has? That'd be interesting to learn.

TBI's (TN Bureau of Investigations) 2009 report had no incidents of murder or assaults in State Parks. That's good news! But TN is #7 in the country for gun deaths. I've a call into Metro's Record Office to try and get the most current stats on handgun violence; hopefully with a breakdown of permit holders vs. stolen/illegal weapons. I know none of you will go to the Brady Center site, but they do keep national records with various breakdowns. Yes, there will always be criminals; especially in a diverse, poorly educated and economically stymied culture. Gots to go Vote now. ;)

By: Cookie47 on 8/5/10 at 3:43


To me it's as simple as if you take away guns, only the criminals will guns. If you get the guns then you'll want the knives then the cars. Where does it stop?!?!

If you want a nanny to watch over and protect you from everything and everybody, go hire one. I prefer to defend my family and myself until the police arrive and, as long as it's legal, I'll do EXACTLY that whether the anti-gunners like it or not.

I don't want to be insulting but I'm fed up with people trying to take away my Constitutional Rights simply because they're scared of their own shadow or my gun. Do something constructive and leave me and my rights alone. Put your energy into keeping the criminals off the streets. Once that's done, I'll decide when it's time to put my gun away.


By: sw9ve on 8/6/10 at 6:14

Ummmm, birdperch -

Does crime in parks happen anywhere? Have there been ANY crimes reported in ANY park ANYWHERE in the US? Just because there may not be any reported cases at parks in TN, does that mean it can't happen? Are you really THAT naive?