http://www.tennessean.com/article/20100107/OPINION01/1070327/1007/ Other Views When Leonard Embody, wearing a cammo jacket, military boots and a black skullcap, openly carried an AK-47 firearm in Radnor Lake State Park on the Sunday before Christmas, he did more than scare a few hikers. His actions, though lawful, sparked outrage and a larger debate on Tennessee handgun carry laws. Tennessee law defines a "handgun" as "any firearm with a barrel length of less than 12 inches that is designed, made or adapted to be fired with one hand." Apparently Mr. Embody's AK-47 fell within this definition because its barrel was 11 inches and was adapted to be shot with one hand. Mr. Embody's "hiking" while openly armed in a state park shows how handgun carry laws fundamentally alter the nature of civic life, the peace of public places and the character of society in Tennessee. Similar to an episode in Pennsylvania where a gun-toting mother exercised her "right" to openly carry her permitted handgun to her 5-year-old's soccer game, Mr. Embody's brandishing of an AK-47 in a state park leaves citizens aghast. State changed law in 1994 Mr. Embody stated that he openly carried his AK-47 "because it was his right" a right believed to have been acknowledged in the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in District of Columbia vs. Heller (2008). But there is no Second Amendment right to openly carry a weapon in public. In Heller the Supreme Court decided only that Washington, D.C.'s ban on handguns in a person's home was unconstitutional. The Supreme Court did not hold that the Second Amendment's individual right to bear arms was a "fundamental right," nor did the court validate any right to carry firearms in public. Heller does not prevent states or the District of Columbia from prohibiting concealed or open carry of firearms in public. Many states prohibit openly carrying handguns or firearms (Arkansas, Texas, Illinois, New York, Oklahoma, Florida, South Carolina and Wisconsin, as well as Washington, D.C.). After Heller the District of Columbia still bans concealed and open carry of handguns in public (as NBA basketball player Gilbert Arenas recently learned). In 1994 Tennessee changed its laws to require that handgun permits must be issued to qualified applicants. Now 339,000 handgun carry permits have been issued in Tennessee. Because Tennessee also allows permit holders from any state to openly carry a handgun in Tennessee, conceivably 4 million permit holders (the number estimated in the U.S) could carry handguns in Tennessee. While Mr. Embody is likely a law-abiding, zealous advocate of the open carry of handguns, the Violence Policy Center in Washington, D.C., is keeping tabs on the number of shooting deaths by handgun permit holders. Some 107 people were killed by permit holders since 2007, including six murders by Tennessee permit holders; see www.vpc.org/ccwkillers.htm. The claim by the NRA and gun lobbyists that less-restrictive gun laws or more guns in the hands of law-abiding citizens will make society safer or deter crime is false. Studies show that gun control legislation lowers the number of gun-related deaths anywhere between one to almost six per 100,000 individuals. Simply put, more guns equals more crime. David Randolph Smith is a trial attorney in Nashville and a former professor of law at Vanderbilt Law School. He was lead attorney for the plaintiffs in the successful challenge to Tennessee's guns-in-bars law.