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Tenn. Gun Bill Sponsor Arrested for Possessing Handgun While Drunk

Crime

"obviously very impaired and not in any condition to be carrying a loaded handgun"

The Blaze told you a few weeks back about an Ohio bill that allowed legal gun owners to bring firearms into establishments that serve alcohol, provided no drinking takes place.

Today, the Associated Press is reporting that an advocate for a similar law in Tennessee was allegedly caught drunk driving with a loaded gun in the car.

The media is now using these allegations to call into question the wisdom of the Tennessee firearms law that allows law-abiding gun owners to carry in bars in restaurants-- all as a result of one man's actions.

Rep. Curry Todd, a Collierville Republican who sponsored the law that made it legal to carry a gun into bars in Tennessee is facing charges of possession of a handgun while under the influence and drunken driving. He was pulled over in Nashville late Tuesday, according to court documents.

Police said he 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's seat and 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 legislator posted bail of $3,000 and was released from jail Wednesday morning.

Todd didn't immediately return a message left on his cellphone by the AP, and no lawyer was listed in his arrest records. A spokesman for the House Republican Caucus said leaders were monitoring the situation but had no immediate comment on the arrest.

Todd told officers that he had consumed two drinks when he was pulled over, according to the affidavit.

As a former Memphis police officer, Todd doesn't have to have a state permit to carry a gun in public. But state law makes it a misdemeanor for anyone to consume alcohol while carrying a firearm in public.

Todd's arrest was first reported by WSMV-TV. Court documents don't indicate whether Todd had been drinking at a bar.

Todd sponsored a 2009 bill to let people with handgun carry permits take their weapons into businesses that serve alcohol, provided they don't drink. Although police and prosecutors spoke out against it, the measure passed and easily survived a veto from then-Gov. Phil Bredesen, a Democrat.

A judge later declared the law unconstitutionally vague but the Legislature addressed those issues in a new version that became a law last year.

During debate over the bill in 2009, Todd assured lawmakers that gun permit holders would be careful about not violating the ban on drinking in bars or restaurants while carrying a gun.

"The burden is not going to be on the restaurant owner, it's going to be on the individual, because he's going to know that he has a chance there if he's caught to lose his gun permit forever," Todd said.

If  Todd is found guilty and the law he sponsored comes under attack, he might not be the only Tennessean to have his second amendment rights curtailed.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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