Arrest of Tennessee's guns-in-bars law sponsor triggers controversy
NASHVILLE, Tenn. - A Tennessee state lawmaker who was the lead sponsor of a law allowing handgun concealed carry permit holders to bring their guns into bars has been arrested on charges of drunken driving and possession of a gun while under the influence.
Rep. Curry Todd, a Collierville Republican, was pulled over in Nashville late Tuesday, police say in court documents. He allegedly failed a roadside sobriety test and refused to take a Breathalyzer test. A loaded .38-caliber gun was found in a holster stuffed between the driver seat and the center console.
A police affidavit said Todd was unsteady on his feet, "almost falling down at times." It concluded that Todd was "obviously very impaired and not in any condition to be carrying a loaded handgun."
The name of a lawyer for Todd, who is a former Memphis police officer, could not immediately be located. A spokesman for the House Republican Caucus had no immediate comment on the arrest.
Todd's arrest was first reported by WSMV-TV.
Todd sponsored a 2009 bill to allow people with handgun carry permits to bring their weapons into bars and restaurants that serve alcohol, provided they don't drink. The law passed despite opposition from law enforcement and district attorney groups, and easily survived a veto from former Democratic Gov. Phil Bredesen.
A judge later declared the law unconstitutionally vague. The Legislature passed a new version last year.
Todd, the chairman of the House State and Local Government Committee, is known for flashes of a quick temper. After Bredesen vetoed the original version of the guns in bars bill, Todd said: "I want to tell you what the governor can do with that piece of paper he just sent."
Todd also drew national attention last year for saying in a committee hearing that illegal immigrants can "go out there like rats and multiply" after hearing that federal law requires the state to extend prenatal care to women regardless of their citizenship status because all children born in the U.S. are citizens.
Todd initially acknowledged that he used the wrong words and that he meant to say "anchor babies" - itself a term many consider offensive - but refused to apologize for the original remark.
Todd later changed course and said he would "apologize if the comment offended anyone."