NASHVILLE — The chairman of a special state House firearms task force has resigned his position following his arrest Tuesday night for DUI and possessing a loaded weapon while intoxicated.
The future of the task force itself is in limbo with House Majority Leader Gerald McCormick, R-Chattanooga, who created the panel, saying he will make a decision about it by next week.
McCormick said Rep. Curry Todd, R-Collierville, voluntarily resigned his task force chairmanship during a conversation with him Thursday. McCormick emphasized Todd still remains chairman of the House State and Local Government Committee.
“I just said thank you, I think that would be the best thing,” McCormick said of Todd’s offer.
Meanwhile, in a development out of Washington, D.C., U.S. Rep. Steven Cohen, D-Tenn. — who hails from Shelby County as does Todd — abruptly dropped his co-sponorship of a Republican-backed bill dealing with handgun-carry permits Thursday.
The National Right-to-Carry Reciprocity Act of 2011 would require states that allow the concealed carrying of guns to recognize one another’s permit.
“He did indeed take his name off it,” said Cohen spokesman Michael Pagan, who added that he had no additional information.
Meanwhile, the next meeting of the state firearms task force, which McCormick created, has been postponed. McCormick said the task force could be disbanded, but said it was due to the economy not any controversy.
“I was really hoping the economy would be roaring back by now, and it’s not,” McCormick said. “I think people want us to focus more on economic development and jobs and leave some of the other issues to the side for the time being.
“This is a timely opportunity to do that with the gun task force,” McCormick said. “I don’t think we need to push those issues right now.”
On Thursday, Senate Speaker Ron Ramsey, R-Blountville, a supporter of legislation opening up places where handgun-permit holders can go armed, told reporters he has “zero tolerance for drunk driving, and I think he [Todd] needs to be punished to the fullest extent of the law. And the fact that he had a firearm in the car is bad; that’s breaking the law, too.”
Ramsey said it would be up to Todd’s constituents to decide whether he should remain a lawmaker. He deferred to House Speaker Beth Harwell, R-Nashville, on the issue of Todd keeping his chairmanship of the powerful State and Local Government Committee.
Todd is expected to meet next week with Harwell about that.
Critics of the guns-in-bars law are trumpeting Todd’s arrest for being intoxicated while possessing a loaded gun as evidence bolstering their opposition to the legislation.
But Ramsey dismissed such talk.
“Using that same analogy, then he broke the law driving a car, too, and I guess we need to take all cars away from people,” he said.
The Associated Press, meanwhile, reported that Nashville police said they pulled over Todd because his sport utility vehicle was weaving and speeding 20 mph above the 40 mph posted limit.
A previously released court affidavit said Todd was unsteady on his feet, failed a field sobriety test and refused to take a breath alcohol test.
Police said they found a .38-caliber gun in a holster between the driver’s seat and center console.
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, ...