published Wednesday, February 10th, 2010

Tennessee: Man with AK-47-style pistol in park sues ranger


Associated Press Writer

NASHVILLE — A man who was detained for three hours while carrying an AK-47-style semiautomatic pistol at Radnor Lake State Park is suing the ranger who stopped him.

Leonard Embody filed a lawsuit in federal court in Nashville on Monday. He claims Park Manager Steve Ward violated his civil rights by detaining him without probable cause and for longer than was necessary to determine he was not committing a crime.

Embody has a handgun carry permit, and a new state law allows permit holders to carry their weapons in state parks. However, State Department of Environment and Conservation spokeswoman Tisha Calabrese-Benton has said Embody was detained because his weapon looked like a rifle and startled hikers had complained.

Embody's attorney, Phillip Davidson, said the gun has the same "center operating parts" as an AK-47. It has a pistol grip and no shoulder stock.

After Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco Firearms and Explosives personnel were called, Embody was released without charges.

He has been detained briefly in several similar incidents — at least three other times in state parks and once by police in the Nashville suburb of Belle Meade.

Calabrese-Benton said the gun he carried at Radnor Lake on Dec. 20, 2009, had no stock and the barrel was under 11 inches. However, state attorneys were investigating whether it's legal to carry the AK-47-style pistol with 30-round magazine as a handgun. For unexplained reasons, it had an orange tip, like a toy weapon, although it was real.

The lawsuit claims Ward knew Embody had a handgun carry permit before detaining him because Embody had already shown the permit to another ranger. It says Ward pointed a shotgun at Embody, forced him to lie on the ground and handcuffed him. When Metro Nashville Police arrived they asked Ward to release Embody, but he did not do so immediately, the lawsuit states.

Embody seeks a jury trial and asks to be awarded an unspecified amount of compensatory damages for his injuries. The lawsuit claims Embody was "subjected to mental anguish, humiliation and embarrassment" because the incident was widely publicized in the local media.

No answer to the claims had been filed in court by Wednesday. Calabrese-Benton said the state cannot comment on the lawsuit but is asking the Attorney General's office to represent Ward.

Embody has been stopped at least four other times. Three times he was stopped while carrying a gun at Bicentennial Mall, a state park next to the Capitol in downtown Nashville, Calabrese-Benton said. He was released each time after a check of his handgun carry permit.

Embody also was stopped on Jan. 23 by police in the Nashville suburb of Belle Meade while walking down Belle Meade Boulevard with a .44 caliber black powder revolver in his hand, Belle Meade Police Chief Tim Eads said.

He was detained for about 16 minutes while officers checked his permit and weapon.

Eads said he is a supporter of Second Amendment rights but called Embody's actions "reckless."

Speaking of the lawsuit against Ward, Eads said, "I'm sure we'll be next."

Embody's attorney, Davidson, said he had no comment on the other incidents. He said his client is not granting interviews.

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hcirehttae said...

What a nutcase! Where's the outrage from rational supporters of gun rights? He's modified an assault weapon to meet some fantastical, technical definition of a "handgun" and then added an orange tip, so it looks like a toy gun. What can possibly be the purpose of that, except to confuse law enforcement officers, possibly forcing them to hesitate for a moment before taking appropriate action when confronted with such a weapon? Then this guy drives around all over, just begging a cop trying to do his job to react in a split-second to his weirdness -- and he has the nerve to file a lawsuit over it. But he's "not granting interviews" according to his lawyer. Who does he think he is, Charles Bronson? What loony-tunes attorney would file this lawsuit?

Can we get our state legislature's attention here, please, to take another look at these jackleg laws they've been passing recently? People should be able to own guns to protect themselves and their families, but not to brandish them around in a ridiculous, provocative manner like this joker.

February 10, 2010 at 7:28 p.m. they REALLY consider a gun like that a "Hand Gun"? I mean seriously, that don't look like a "Hand Gun" to me! More like a 2 hands gun lol

February 10, 2010 at 7:54 p.m.
Sailorman said...

Yeah it's considered a handgun. Barrel under certain length, short overall length, and no shoulder stock. Blame our fed government - they're the ones that came up with the definition. It's what happens when trying to classify every conceivable configuration down to the very last detail. It's just as dumb the rest of the firearm classification follies.

As for it being a "modified assault weapon":

Look up the definition of assault weapon. There's a million of them and all have to do with cosmetic features that affect functionality not one wit. It's very unlikely he "modified" anything. They're manufactured that way.

February 10, 2010 at 8:12 p.m.
thetruth128 said...

This idiot needs to lose his concealed permit. I strongly believe that upstanding citizens have the right to carry. He is obviously being confrontational in order to try and win a lawsuit. The officers should arrest him for anything they can the next time this moron tries something like this. Being arrested while armed should be enough to get his permit yanked. A concealed permit does not allow you to walk in public with the gun in hand. That is called "Brandishing a firearm" and is illegal. Being arrested for this would allow for the permit to be taken. There is no law for having a handgun in open view, you only need a permit for concealed carry. I think this is the point he was trying to make, but he is to stupid to know how to go about it the right way. Painting the tip orange has no purpose other than to help illustrate his lack of intelligence. With all the laws on the books that are not usually enforced, there are several that could be enforced (such as spitting on a sidewalk) just to help the police get this nuisance locked up.

February 10, 2010 at 8:44 p.m.
Sailorman said...

thetruth18 - exactly

February 10, 2010 at 8:51 p.m.
hotdiggity said...

thetruth18-my exact thoughts. Very well stated.

February 10, 2010 at 9:02 p.m.
Sailorman said...

If anyone wonders what the HCP holder perspective is, peruse this thread. The guy has a history and has been universally condemned.

February 10, 2010 at 9:21 p.m.
SCOTTYM said...

Sailorman, indian,

First of all, I agree this guy is looking for trouble.

That said, I'm a bit confused by the description of this "AK pistol". Obviously it is legal or this dipstick would be locked up. That said, I was under the impression that an AK that has been modified with an 11" barrel would be considered a "Short Barreled Rifle", shoulder stock or no, and would require a tax-stamp. Further more, a "SBR" would not fall under TN's definition of a handgun for the purpose of carrying with a HCP. What am I missing here?

February 10, 2010 at 9:57 p.m.
SCOTTYM said...


I had to dig out my login for TGO. It seems Mr. Bonehead happens to have an "AK style" pistol that was originally manufactured as such, and therefore the receiver is stamped as such. I guess that covers that.

He's looking for trouble and will cause us all headaches if he keeps it up.

February 10, 2010 at 10:11 p.m.
SavartiTN said...

I wonder if the rangers were walking around with a Desert Eagle in their hands, would idiots like this guy be carrying around his and tempting fate?

I am insulted that this moron is going to sue the state of Tennessee over this and cost us taxpayers money. Good grief.

February 10, 2010 at 10:43 p.m.
rolando said...

It is possible, even probable, that Embody is indeed challenging the law and its enforcement. This is the way it is is called "civil disobedience" and usually requires an arrest. The tactic has an honorable history and goes back at least to the nineteen-sixties, if not to Ancient Rome. Money is not the primary reason for the lawsuit...

Hm-m-m. No mention of whether the handgun was actually loaded or not. If not loaded and the purpose WAS to challenge the law, that could be the reason for the orange tip [not wanting to get accidentally shot by an overzealous, itchy-fingered, 12-ga 00 buckshot totin' Ranger...]

Note for thetruth128: Tennessee law does NOT specify "concealed", although the authorities recommend it. It is a "Handgun Carry Permit". Unquote. I am not sure how a handgun this size could be concealed. Under the shoulder and down the pants, perhaps...or maybe a violin case under the arm??

February 10, 2010 at 11:07 p.m.
rolando said...

You should be insulted that the "Ranger" forcibly detained an innocent man on YOUR dime, SarvatiTN. If the "Ranger" is found guilty and liable, he was NOT legally acting in the line of duty and he could be personally financially responsibile for his action. A serious lesson and more serious precedent would be established concerning harassment of a private citizen by law enforcement. They might even brush up on the laws.

February 10, 2010 at 11:20 p.m.
SCOTTYM said...


I do agree with you regarding the civil disobedience angle. I don't actually agree with this fellow's tactics, but the strategy is sound.

I consider myself to be fairly well informed about firearm laws and in this situation the legality of this firearm was confusing for me. I can only imagine how it would look to the officer who may know only the bare minimum about firearms laws.

BTW, I believe the problem is due to having too many infringements upon our right to bear arms, and not upon the officer's lack of knowledge about them.

If the officers were charged with merely ensuring that firearms were not being used to endanger others instead of enforcing a encyclopedia's worth of arcane technical regulations, we wouldn't have to worry about these things.

February 11, 2010 at 12:02 a.m.
SCOTTYM said...


Yeah, that's what I'm reading as well. I'm not sure more than a very small percentage of law officers would possess this knowledge.

February 11, 2010 at 12:06 a.m.
donhamrick said...

Every single one of y'all objecting to this guy's firearm don't fully understand the Four Corners Doctrine of Constitutional interpretation.

The Second Amendment is a vital function of the Common Defence Clause in the Preamble to the Constitution of the United States.

ANY firearm designed for personal carry that functions for personal safety, security, and self-defense, even a pistolized AK-47, also functions for the Common Defence under our Constitution to keep the State and Federal Government within the limits of the Constitution. Hence the Domestic Tranquility, the General Welfare, and the Blessings of Liberty clauses in the Preamble.

Can't y'all see behind this story that "law enforcement" does NOT want the American people exercising the "FULL SCOPE" of their rights under the Second Amendment?

Part of the "FULL SCOPE" (i.e., the Swiss or Isreali Model) of the Second Amendment is the Ninth Amendment right and the Tenth Amendment power reserved to the People to keep and carry fully automatic machine guns in intrastate and interstate travel if we were allow to such constitutional freedoms.

Severely restricting the Second Amendment also means a greater nullification of the Thirteenth Amendment's prohibition of slavery and involuntary servitude because we grow more dependent on GOVERNMENT PERMISSION to exercise our rights. That then becomes a delusion of freedom.


February 11, 2010 at 1:52 a.m.
hotdiggity said...

Believe it or not, there are still people out there who are "startled" by seeing this type of weapon in the open at a state park. Its not an everyday occurrence and recent incidences of mass murder in the news stick with people. Not taking sides, but I think the majority of people are unaccustomed to seeing these types of weapons in the open and some will report on it.

I am not arguing the legalities. But with this law being so new, is it really unreasonable for the park ranger to detain him and call in the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco Firearms and Explosives division to verify the legality of the weapon? An incidence like this was bound to happen sooner or later.

February 11, 2010 at 3:03 a.m.
hotdiggity said...


Uhhh, thanks anyway but I think I will keep my delusion as to having automatic weapons on the streets. But thanks for your concern.

February 11, 2010 at 3:15 a.m.
donhamrick said...

REPLY TO hotdiggity

LOL. Let me know what you think about your delusion when you get shot at or witness a drive-by shooting with the shooter using an AK-47; or when sleeper cell terrorists deploy in major cities in machinegun attacks on the population. There's more than one definition for "invasion" in the Constitution.

February 11, 2010 at 4:48 a.m.
SavartiTN said...

hotdiggity has a point. Since only 3% of Tennesseans have a handgun permit, the other 97% probably aren't used to seeing guns openly carried in a state park and might be alarmed, especially considering that we, as a nation, have been taught to fear incidents such as this in the wake of 9/11, Columbine, and Ft. Hood.

Embody's intent was to create controversary. He had carefully planned his actions as stated in the Nashville newspaper article in the link below. There is also a picture of Embody's "handgun."

It then must remain questioned just how beneficial is the right to carry a handgun. This website offers some interesting and alarming numbers regarding violence caused by a person with a legal handgun permit.

This being said, with 97% of Tennesseans not having a handgun permit, the public might wonder why in the world the Great State of Tennessee would think that carrying a weapon into a state park would be a good idea to begin with.

February 11, 2010 at 11:14 a.m.
hotdiggity said...

Savarti-Thanks for the links.

This part in the first article was interesting..

"A champion of the Second Amendment is vowing to exercise his constitutional rights by parading around Bicentennial Mall with a loaded AK-47 assault pistol slung across his back, but even fellow gun advocates are denouncing his behavior as a foolish publicity stunt."

My opinion is he is not doing any favors for gun carry advocates. I tend to believe most advocates of the carry law are responsible citizens and this casts a bad light on the whole.

The guy seems a little nutty.

February 11, 2010 at 12:08 p.m.
hotdiggity said...

donhamrick-Thanks for the heads up. I'll let you know when I see the black helicopters approaching also, LOL.

February 11, 2010 at 12:27 p.m.
Sailorman said...

The guy is a money grubbing nutcase period. While he technically didn't violate any law, his motives and lack of judgment are appalling.

What's an "assault pistol"? Never seen one of them - maybe it's like an "assault bicycle" or is it just something you made up?

Quotes from the VPC - wow - an organization totally dedicated to relieving the citizenry of a constitution protection. But let's take their numbers re actions by permit holders at face value.

Law enforcement officers killed - 9 Private citizens killed - 108 Number of mass shootings - 11 Number of murder-suicides - 13

You know the old story about statistics. A number of these cases are pending so we don't know whether the permit holder was justified or not. There appears to be confusion among the categories as some of the instances are counted more than once - McClendon for example.

You might also look up Josh Sugarman who seems to have created quite a cozy situation for himself.

On the news today, it was reported that 400+ children die each year from choking on food.

February 11, 2010 at 1:09 p.m.
MountainJoe said...

While I agree that Embody was seeking confrontation in the name of publicity and potential financial reward, he was legally carrying a legal weapon and therefore should not have been detained.

If the ranger (or any LEO) does not know which weapons are legal and which are not, the prudent thing to do would be ... NOTHING ... unless the person carrying the weapon is using it to threaten others. You might keep an eye on him from a distance, but unless you are sure he is breaking the law you have to leave him alone.

You don't throw a guy on the ground, cuff him, and point a shotgun at him unless you are SURE he has done something illegal. If you are not sure you let him go. Now all of us taxpayers will be on the financial hook for this ranger's professional (or lack thereof) judgment.

February 11, 2010 at 2:04 p.m.
rolando said...

While disagreeing with Embody's choice of tactics and his unusual weapon of choice, I totally support his RIGHT to carry it [so long as he injures no one].

Further, I sincerely hope he wins his case and receives a substantial award as a form of notice to other overzealous "Rangers" out there. Innocent until proven guilty, remember?

One does NOT throw down on an innocent man who declares his innocence, threaten him with a 12ga shotgun undoubtedly loaded with tactical double-ought buckshot ammo, put him face down in the dirt, cuff him, take his gun, and unreasonably detain him AFTER his innocence is established by police officers without facing the consequences.

BTW, I never accepted any gun I hadn't inspected to be anything but real, no matter WHAT color it was. Good way to die.

As usual, SCOTTYM, I fully agree with you. Embody needed a devil's advocate in this anti-gun Right Grabbing crowd. However unorthodox his actions, he was exercising his constitutional right to carry.

February 11, 2010 at 4:27 p.m.
aryfrosty said...

The first post above wherein the person goes into an anti-gun rant is indicative of a poorly informed reader who seems to believe that the world turns upon hysteria. The man who was arrested did NOT convert an AK 47 to a pistol. They are sold that way. In fact any frame which has ever been used to build a rifle is absolutely prohibited from being made into a hand gun. They cannot, under law, have a shoulder stock or be readily convertible to a rifle. The orange tip is a plastic muzzle protector which is legal to place on a gun while it is being transported to prevent damage to the gun. It is shameful that some Police Officers know less about firearms than they do about rocket science. That is nearly the same as a surgeon not knowing how to hold a scalpel. It's their job to know these things

February 11, 2010 at 4:53 p.m.
hcirehttae said...

"The orange tip is a plastic muzzle protector which is legal to place on a gun while it is being transported to prevent damage to the gun." - aryfrosty

"People should be able to own guns to protect themselves and their families, but not to brandish them around in a ridiculous, provocative manner like this joker."

The second quote is mine. Is that an anti-gun rant? Reasonable people might differ on that.

I don't know much I guess, aryfrosty, but I've read the colored tips are designed to signify that a gun is a toy rather than the real thing. Explain to me why a muzzle protector would be colored orange, the same color that indicates a gun is a facsimile?

February 11, 2010 at 6:36 p.m.
SavartiTN said...

Embody conceded that he had painted the tip of his Draco AK on purpose. He has succeeded in being banned from just about every gun owners blog on the internet. I think that he is lucky that some other gun toting Tennessean didn't act before the ranger got there. And, you should agree, MOST people, even LEO, don't know that there is such thing a Draco AK 47 "pistol."

Mountain Joe said "You don't throw a guy on the ground, cuff him, and point a shotgun at him unless you are SURE he has done something illegal. If you are not sure you let him go," My teenage son was treated EXACTLY that way in downtown Knoxville for giving food to a homeless man. Apparently it is illegal to feed the there. I know of several cases in Tennessee where this has been done for even lesser offenses. Hey, it's Tennessee. What do you expect?

February 11, 2010 at 7:05 p.m.
SavartiTN said...

indian: I know that it seems like there are a lot of thme out there but unfortunately the real story is that Tennessee hand gun permit holders runs between 3-4% and not any more. It is usually closer to 3%. One recent report quoted the number at 222,000. There are 5.6 million people in the state. You do the math?

How many do you think are carrying?

February 11, 2010 at 10:52 p.m.
SCOTTYM said...


That article was posted on 11/1/2007 @ 4:22:25 AM.

The newest HCP holder number available is 268,711. From .pdf Notice that the number has grown by 23% in the past year.

Official TN population projection for 2010 is 6,229,564. From

I get 4.3% of the total population of TN with HCPs.

Those under 20 make up around 25% of the population. If we exclude them from the population estimate (they can't get a permit until they turn 21) we get close to 6% of the eligible population with a HCP.

Dumping the other non-qualifiers (convicted felons, those with drug convictions or recent DUI's, and those with domestic violence histories) from the estimates and we would likely end up closer to 7%.

February 11, 2010 at 11:57 p.m.
Fehrmann69 said...

This hassel could have been prevented if the legal system in this country would have followed the 2nd Ammendments instructions ...shall NOT be infringed. Most of us law abiding citizens would be carrying concealed, instead of in the open, were it not for the requirement of a permit. You see it was we, the people, that informed our government, of the rights that we have, given to us by God, that are not to be infringed. We, the people, by our constitution, do not need anyones permission, to arm ourselves for our own protection. Is it even fair to expect any law enforcement officer to give his, or her life up, to save ours if we aren't willing to save our own? I think not.

March 5, 2010 at 3:12 p.m.
rob85546 said...

Some people really have NO CLUE.... the AK47 he was carrying IS considered a pistol by defintion.. "DRACO" he has a right to carry it... Personally I would conceal carry my handgun, and not draw attetion to myself. He DID NOT have an assualt rifle that was MODIFIED>.. AS for the Ranger, well most cops really dont know the law and laws on the books like one would think...

February 16, 2011 at 6:42 a.m.
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