published Thursday, October 13th, 2011

Rep. Curry Todd, guns-in-bars law sponsor, faces DUI

  • photo
    This booking photo released by the Metropolitan Nashville Police shows state Rep. Curry Todd, R-Collierville, who was arrested late Tuesday, Oct. 11, 2011, on charges of drunken driving and possession of a gun while under the influence. Todd was a main sponsor of a Tennessee law to allow people with handgun carry permits to bring their guns into bars and restaurants that serve alcohol. (AP Photo/Metropolitan Nashville Police)
    Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

Should Rep. Todd be stripped of his position as the Republican chairman of the House State and Local Government Committee?

NASHVILLE — The Tuesday night arrest of state Rep. Curry Todd, sponsor of Tennessee's controversial guns-in-bars law, on DUI and handgun possession charges, quickly found its way into the political sphere Wednesday.

Tennessee Democratic Party Chairman Chip Forrester called Todd's reported actions "embarrassing to himself and the state of Tennessee. House Speaker Beth Harwell would do the entire a state a great service by asking Todd to resign or explain why she condones this unacceptable behavior from Republican leadership."

In a statement, Todd said he is "deeply sorry for the events of last evening. On the advice of legal counsel, I have decided not to make any public comments about the situation at this time."

He said he plans to talk with Harwell when she returns from an out-of-state trip "to determine whether it is in the best interest of the General Assembly for me to step aside as Chairman of the State and Local Government Committee."

On a personal note, Todd said, "I am incredibly grateful for the calls of support from constituents, colleagues, and friends about this incident."

House Majority Leader Gerald McCormick, R-Chattanooga, told reporters "maybe the Democratic Party chairman ought to read the U.S. Constitution before he executes someone for something they haven't been convicted of yet. That would be my suggestion."

Forrester later replied, "It's discouraging to hear Republican Leader Gerald McCormick quickly dismiss Rep. Todd's poor judgement, saying he hopes Rep. Todd will retain his committee chairmanship."

He said Harwell "either believes Republican leaders deserve special treatment or she believes these actions demand consequences. Rep. Todd's judgement is no longer [in] question, Speaker Harwell's, however, is."

According to a Nashville police affidavit, Todd, who represents the Collierville area in West Tennessee, was pulled over by an officer at 10:55 p.m. Tuesday. He allegedly failed a sobriety field test and refused to take a breathalyzer test. A loaded .38-caliber gun was found in a holster between the driver seat and the center console, police said.

Todd told police he had only had "two drinks." It was unclear whether he had consumed them at a restaurant while carrying his weapon, which is illegal.

The affidavit said Todd was unsteady and "almost falling down at times" and that he was "obviously very impaired and not in any condition to be carrying a loaded handgun."

Todd was the lead sponsor of a 2009 bill to let people with handgun-carry permits bring their loaded weapons into bars and restaurants that serve alcohol, provided they don't drink and the establishment posts no signs banning guns

McCormick said he had had a "brief personal conversation" with Todd earlier today.

"All of us face challenges and make mistakes in our lives," McCormick said. "My thoughts and prayers are with Rep. Todd and his family right now. On a personal note, I only hope that he takes the necessary steps to address this issue."

Asked if Todd would keep his chairmanship, McCormick said, "it's too early to really know if he's going to keep his chairmanship. He's done a good job, and I certainly hope so. We're not going to make any rash decisions until we have a detailed conversation with him" and House Speaker Beth Harwell, R-Nashville, who appoints chairmen.

McCormick acknowledged "it's a bad idea to drink and carry a gun, obviously. Now, I don't know the details of what happened with Rep. Todd last night, but I think he would agree with me, and I know he would agree with me, that people who are drinking should not have loaded handguns with them."

The Tennessee Firearms Association was among groups that pushed for the guns bill. On the group's website Wednesday, someone posted the comment: "THANKS CURRY FOR THE BAD PUBLICITY."

Tennessee's DUI law is a Class A misdemeanor, carrying penalties upon conviction of up to one year in jail with a mandate of serving at least 48 hours.

Possession of a weapon while under the influence is a misdemeanor and carries a sentence of up to one year and a $2,500 fine.

According to a database of state handgun permits, Todd, a former Memphis policeman, had a handgun carry permit. If convicted, that could be suspended for up to three years.

Tennessee lawmakers' foibles have become fodder for partisan attack in the past. When Democrats were in control of the House, Republican leaders demanded the resignation of then-House Judiciary Committee Chairman Rob Briley, D-Nashville. That came after the lawmaker was charged with being drunk and fleeing the scene of an accident before leading police on a 100 mph chase before being stopped, according to police and court documents.

about Andy Sher...

Andy Sher is a Nashville-based staff writer covering Tennessee state government and politics for the Times Free Press. A Washington correspondent from 1999-2005 for the Times Free Press, Andy previously headed up state Capitol coverage for The Chattanooga Times, worked as a state Capitol reporter for The Nashville Banner and was a contributor to The Tennessee Journal, among other publications. Andy worked for 17 years at The Chattanooga Times covering police, health care, county government, ...

Comments do not represent the opinions of the Chattanooga Times Free Press, nor does it review every comment. Profanities, slurs and libelous remarks are prohibited. For more information you can view our Terms & Conditions and/or Ethics policy.
jwkilgore said...

I don't know the situation, but I'd bet the gun is a car weapon (as opposed to a carry weapon) and is always stuck between the seat and console. If it wasn't it in a holster fitted for concealed carry then he probably didn't have it on him while actually drinking, so he did comply with his own law. Legally, he did have possession of a loaded gun while drunk and should be punished for it, but depending on how impaired he was he might not have even remembered it was there. Media attention on the presence of a handgun is a red herring. The fact that he chose to DRIVE a 2-ton "weapon" while intoxicated is a different story, however, and if convicted of DUI this "leader" should be stripped of all responsibility and thrown under the jail. Leaders should be held to a higher standard.

October 13, 2011 at 6:07 a.m.
EaTn said...

So much for the argument that carry permit holders have had the training to be totally responsible and everyone should feel safe with them carrying loaded weapons.

October 13, 2011 at 8:14 a.m.
Gator said...

This guy was driving while drunk. Guilty of DUI. Throw the book at him, strip him of his position and be done with it. The gun was not drawn or waved around. It was not on his person or pointed at anyone. It was no more dangerous than an umbrella lying in the backseat with a point on it. Give me a break and leave the gun out of this. This is NOT a gun issue as the liberals would like to make it.

October 13, 2011 at 8:49 a.m.
moon4kat said...

How is this not a gun issue? Todd was an irresponsible drunk in charge of two deadly weapons. One was a car, the other was a loaded .38. That makes it a gun issue.

October 13, 2011 at 9:23 a.m.
dao1980 said...

Well... he was interacting with the car by using it = DUI

The gun was in it's place being un-used...

Would you accept a DUI if you were drunk and you had a car in the garage?... I mean, your in charge of a car by owning one.. right?

October 13, 2011 at 9:31 a.m.
sangaree said...

Gator said... This guy was driving while drunk. Guilty of DUI. Throw the book at him, strip him of his position and be done with it. The gun was not drawn or waved around. It was not on his person or pointed at anyone. It was no more dangerous than an umbrella lying in the backseat with a point on it. Give me a break and leave the gun out of this

Not according to TN Laws on guns and consuming alcohol. According to the law not only should he be charged, but he should also lose his license for a period of no less than 3 years. Plus, if that's dudes' mug shot he looks more than drunk. He looks high on something.

October 13, 2011 at 9:44 a.m.
nowfedup said...

Kind of amusing to watch the gunnies freak out with all kinds of really idiot cover for this guy, not waving it around, on seat etc. Sort of REALLY, shall we say, "Shoot down" that ole "carry folks just sweet honest folks the love apple pie, Chevie and the flag" etc, more when the fool that sponsored carry into bars and "no issues there" gets busted.

Sort of makes that crutch of "An armed qualified citizen makes it safer streets for us all" a little shallow. Doubt he is guilty of possesion while drunk, well carry loaded pistol in front seat,no permit and see what happens if stopped. Sorry but the NRA poster child of goodness, was not. The whole carry thing is a joke on a good day, even worse in GA where there is NO testing or class, just get Judge to sign paper. Now doesn't that give on a feeling of security? Note those GA clowns can then legally carry in TN or most other states. We really need to revisit these laws but the cowards that only feel macho when they have a gun, and some it seems a few drinks, are so afraid and paranoid, nothing will happen. Seems second elected official abusing guns in the region, wonder how many more let off? Hope the jail him as example of how the law should be tightly enforce, one for DWI, second jail time for drunk with loaded gun at side. The R party should, if one ounce of decency and responsibility, dump him now, he is a disgrace to responsible gun owners and useless Icon of TN and its totally corrupted good ole boys politics.

October 13, 2011 at 9:47 a.m.
moon4kat said...

dao, that's a really lame attempt at an analogy. You're saying Todd had to be engaged in shooting the gun while drunk before you'd consider it a gun issue. The point is that drunks have impaired judgment, leading to fatal accidents with ANY deadly weapon.

October 13, 2011 at 9:50 a.m.
Facts said...

I'm a independent conservative. He should face all the consequences that an average citizen should face. If he were at home with his gun and alcohol, his business. But he was in public, driving drunk (the most dangerous weapon), and had an abundance of knowledge to know better. This Democratic Chairman's right: the Legislator's judgment has been proven. The one's defending him to stay in office and in leadership are the ones that are now joining him in the ranks of the irresponsible.

October 13, 2011 at 9:54 a.m.
dao1980 said...

Not shooting moon4kat, but wielding/handleing/physicaly contacting.

I think that the fact that the gun was still in the place where it was intentionally stored when sober, takes it out of the equation.

Guns and automobiles are equally deadly and dangerous tools/implements.

With your logic, -"The point is that drunks have impaired judgment, leading to fatal accidents with ANY deadly weapon."- (which, your statement is correct)

We should be going after anyone who is drunk while in the general vicinity of any dangerous implement that they own... of course that would include hammers, crowbars, knives, nail guns, screwdrivers, dirt bikes, 4wheelers, arrows.. wow, it would seem that the world is a terrifying place when you fear the existence of inanimate objects before they are animated by a person with impaired judgment or wishing to do harm.

October 13, 2011 at 9:58 a.m.
petuniadewitt said...

let's remember, tho, drunk drivers don't kill people, cars do!

October 13, 2011 at 10:10 a.m.
ibshame said...

"He allegedly failed a sobriety field test and refused to take a breathalyzer test."

Isn't there a penalty for refusing to take a breathalyzer test? He looks pretty drunk from the mug shot. Evidently he knew he was well above the legal limit. On the bright side at least he was stopped BEFORE he could cause an accident and not after.

October 13, 2011 at 10:14 a.m.
Mojo57 said...

I believe if Rep. Todd is convicted, he should save face (no pun intended) and resign his office. At some point we have to make our elected officials accountable for their actions! Stepping off my soap box now.

October 13, 2011 at 12:37 p.m.
McRand said...

In some states a refusal to take a breathalyzer is an automatic suspension. In other states you are not required to take one. What if somebody spiked your drink it didn't hit you until after you left and were already on the road and you felt you were getting an odd feeling but did not believe it to be from your drink, but just thinking you may be getting sick and continued heading for home? That's why we have a system of due process. Until proven guilty, the charges are alleged.

What does TN say?

Am I required to take a field sobriety test? NO. Tennessee law does not require you to perform field sobriety tests at the request of an officer. The officer, however, is under no obligation to inform you that such tests are voluntary.

October 13, 2011 at 2:15 p.m.
Gator said...

Thank you, dao1980. You said it better than I did. This is a DUI case, plain and simple. As a non-drinker, I COULD get on a soap-box of the dangers of drinking alcohol and recommend that IT be outlawed. Hmm... I believe we've already tried THAT one, haven't we? :)

October 13, 2011 at 2:47 p.m.
adolphochs said...

WWJ(F)D? - What would John Ford Do?

October 13, 2011 at 3:58 p.m.
Humphrey said...

That a boy taking up for him Gery.

October 13, 2011 at 4:50 p.m.
mtngrl said...

The issue with having a gun while drunk is equivilant to DUI whether he was "wielding" it or not. You can get a DUI by simply sitting in a car with the keys in the ignition. I know 2 folks this has happened to - one was waiting on the driver while sleeping in the car and turned on the engine to just have heat. another was sleeping in the car with just the keys in the ignition when a cop showed up to see what was up, he got cited for not having required eyewear on while "driving". Just having the keys in the ignition counts as being in control of the vehicle. How is that different than having the gun loaded?

October 13, 2011 at 5:16 p.m.
Echo said...

Three articles about this arrest already?! Tried, and convicted by the Chattanooga Times Free Press.

Did the Eric Holder suspend the presumption of innocence while we were trying to figure out how he and Barack Hussein Obama delivered 2,000 guns to Mexican Drug cartels, resulting in dozens of deaths including the murder of two U.S. federal agents, Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry, and ICE Agent Jaime Zapata and other Mexican police and civilians? How many articles have been written about this in this rag?

Why did they do it? To subvert the U.S. democratic process by restricting legal gun ownership. To impose a socialist agenda upon the U.S. population that cannot be achieved by popular support. To make a phony case that guns used by criminal organizations in Mexico are being purchased in small numbers from U.S. gun stores, and not through the international marketplace for fully automatic weapons. This story has the same agenda.

The alleged DUI charge against some politician is no reason to change a policy affecting 1 in 13 Tennesseans who have no criminal history and have passed the state mandated safety class and a security background check (paid for at their own expense). The law has provisions for those who drink and carry and it represents less than 1% of all TN permit holders, a rate lower than for police.

We the People have a natural and constitutional right to protect ourselves from thugs in our backyard or in the Justice Department or White House if it becomes corrupted beyond what can be remedied by an election. We also have a moral obligation to maintain a democracy, and not let it become manipulated by schemes and publicity stunts. Eric Holder and Barack Hussain Obama's backfired stunt has already killed two more U.S. federal agents and countless others now and in the future than Representative Todd's gun or car have, so how about some perspective?

October 15, 2011 at 12:43 a.m.
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