A Davidson County chancellor has dismissed Leonard Embody’s complaint against the state, which he filed last year, claiming that state law unconstitutionally criminalized the carrying of firearms.
In an order filed Friday, Jan. 21, Chancellor Russell T. Perkins granted a motion by the state attorney general’s office to dismiss Embody’s complaint.
That complaint focused on a section of state law prohibiting citizens from carrying a firearm, knife with a blade longer than four inches or a club “with the intent to go armed.”
Embody claimed the section was too vague and violated his constitutional rights under the state constitution as well as the Second and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution.
In his order, Perkins wrote that the state is within its authority to regulate the use of “constitutionally protected weapons” when doing so “with a view to prevent crime.”
Perkins cited the Tennessee case of Kendall v. State, writing that carrying a firearm is prohibited when done so in a manner “readily accessible and available for use in the carrying out of purposes either offensive or defensive.”
Perkins later stated the section of state law mentioned in the complaint “is 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.”
An email statement from the state attorney general’s office read, “We are pleased the court ruled in our behalf, upholding the constitutionality of the law allowing reasonable regulation of the right to carry weapons in public.”
Embody said he does not agree with the order.
"I don't think people who can't afford a handgun carry permit or people who have no federal or state disability should be barred from carrying a handgun for self-defense," he said. "I plan on motioning the court to amend or alter the judgment. I also plan on appealing based upon how the motion to amend goes."
Embody made headlines in December 2009 for 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.
Following the Radnor Lake incident, Embody also sued Park Ranger Steve Ward last February, claiming the ranger detained him for “longer than was reasonably necessary” to investigate any criminal wrongdoing and without probable cause in violation of Embody’s Fourth Amendment rights.
Embody claimed that, after he was stopped and released after showing another park ranger his carry permit, Ward stopped Embody at gunpoint and detained him for more than three hours.
That suit is still pending in U.S. District Court.
The Tennessee Department of Safety suspended Embody’s handgun carry permit last March, stating he “poses a material likelihood of risk to the public” based on information provided by the Belle Meade Police Department following Embody’s encounter with police in the Belle Meade Boulevard incident.
In September, Embody dropped an appeal seeking an administrative hearing on the permit suspension so that his complaint against the state could move forward, he said at the time.