The arrest this week of a Tennessee lawmaker for allegedly driving drunk with a loaded gun bolsters the case of opponents of a law he championed allowing owners of concealed weapons in bars and restaurants where alcohol is served.
“Proponents of Tennessee’s guns-allowed-in-bars law argue that gun-permit holders are responsible citizens,” Ray Friedman said in reaction to the arrest of Curry Todd. “They would never break the law by drinking in bars and restaurants while carrying their guns. Rep. Curry Todd just proved that this simple idea is wrong.”
Friedman publishes a website listing what establishments permit guns.
Police stopped Todd, who’s chairman of the legislature’s Firearms Task Force, after they observed him allegedly speeding and swerving Tuesday. Inside his GMC Envoy, Curry reeked of alcohol, police said, adding that they found a loaded Smith & Wesson 38 Special in a holster next to the driver’s seat.
Todd was “almost falling down,” according to a Nashville police affidavit. The 63-year-old Republican legislator was charged with drunken driving and possession of a handgun while under the influence. In their arrest report, police said Todd “was obviously impaired and in no condition to be carrying a loaded handgun.”
In the mug shot taken after his arrest, state representative Todd looks disheveled and bleary eyed, barely able to keep one eye open.
The irony is inescapable: Todd is among the strongest backers of the Tennessee law allowing owners of concealed weapons in places where alcohol is served. During the debate, he told ABC News, “I think that you, as a permit-holder, have that right and responsibility to protect your family.”
Nashville police did not disclose where Todd had been drinking. After spending a night in jail, he posted $3,000 bond and was released. Todd’s legislative office did not respond to a request for comment.
Tennessee is among a growing number of states that now allow permit holders to take concealed handguns into bars and restaurants. Ohio passed a similar law earlier this month. In both states, establishments have the right to ban guns if they post signs making it clear they are not welcome.
Nashville legislators said today his task force was likely to be delayed, if not disbanded, after its chairman’s embarrassing arrest.