A park ranger disarmed and detained Embody to determine whether the AK-47 was a legitimate pistol under Tennessee law,
releasing him only after determining it was. And Embody sued the park ranger, claiming
he had violated his Second, Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment rights.
Embody’s appearance at the park prompted two encounters with park rangers.
In the first, Ranger Joshua Walsh approached Embody, asked for his permit and
questioned him about the gun. Embody produced a valid permit, but Walsh could not
tell whether the firearm qualified as a legal one under state law. “Technically it’s a
handgun,” he told Embody, “but I don’t know why you need it out here,” and “I’m pretty
sure an AK-47 is not a handgun.” R.22-3 at 3. Uncertain how to proceed, Walsh
allowed Embody to continue through the park—for the time being.
Walsh phoned a supervisor, Ranger Steve Ward, for further direction. Ward in
turn called Chief Ranger Shane Petty, who did not believe the AK-47 was a handgun
given the description of it. Petty and Ward determined that Ward should undertake a
“felony take down” of Embody, disarm him and check the weapon. Id. at 9. They called
the Metropolitan Nashville Police Department for assistance
Ward found Embody in a parking lot and ordered him to the ground at gun point.
Without arresting Embody, Ward removed the gun, patted him for other weapons and
detained him. When the Nashville police officers arrived, Ward explained his concern
that Embody’s weapon was illegal, and the officers conducted a weapons check to
determine the gun’s status. Meanwhile, Embody requested the presence of a police
supervisor, even after the Nashville officers advised him it would delay his release.
Once the officers confirmed that the firearm fit the definition of a handgun under state
law, Ward returned the gun to Embody and released him. The incident lasted about twoand-
Embody sued Ward for damages under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. He alleged that Ward
had violated his Fourth Amendment rights by subjecting him to an unreasonable seizure
and his Second Amendment rights by disarming and detaining him for carrying a
weapon condoned by state law. The district court granted Ward’s motion for summary