Leonard Embody stirred up some trouble in Nashville, Tenn., by walking around town with a loaded AR-15 while wearing body armor. Police arrived on the scene after several complaints, but Embody was not interested in cooperating.
Embody refused to answer the officers’ questions as to whether or not the rifle was loaded and continued on his way. The officers followed Embody and continued to ask him questions.
At one point, the officers took Embody’s rifle and checked the magazine without his consent. The magazine was empty, but they were unable to determine if there was a round in the chamber because the gun was secured by a wire lock.
The police had seen enough. They took Embody into custody and charged him with possession of a prohibited weapon. Embody has since been released on a $3,000 bail.
The problem, of course, is that the police cannot arrest somebody for refusing to provide evidence that he or she has not committed a crime. Police can certainly be suspicious that a gun contains contain ammunition, but the mere presence of a gun is not sufficient evidence to seize and search property. It is akin to police officers arresting somebody because the individual will not allow police to come inside and look around. Guns, like all other forms of personal property, are supposed to be protected under the Fourth Amendment.
This incident raises some interesting questions. If it is legal to carry around an AR-15, do cops have the right to ask you about it? How would you feel if you saw a guy walking around aimlessly, in body armor, with a weapon? If people feel uncomfortable, and call the police to investigate, what actions can a police officer legally take if so far no crime has been committed? As the law stands in Tennessee, it looks like this man’s rights were violated. This is now the country we live in.