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House firearms panel postponed after Todd arrest

By Erik Schelzig

Associated Press

Published: Thursday, Oct. 13 2011 8:55 a.m. MDT

FILE - In this Feb. 8, 2010 file photo, Rep. Curry Todd, R-Collierville, speaks in the House Chamber of the Tennessee State Capitol in Nashville, Tenn. Todd, lead sponsor of a law allowing handgun carry permit holders to bring their guns into bars, was arrested late Tuesday, Oct. 11, 2011, on charges of drunken driving and possession of a gun while under the influence.

Josh Anderson, File, Associated Press

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — House Majority Leader Gerald McCormick said Thursday that he will postpone and possibly disband a special firearms task force following the arrest of its chairman, Rep. Curry Todd, on drunken driving and gun charges.

McCormick, a Chattanooga Republican, said in a phone interview that "with the chairman otherwise occupied" he will put off the first meeting scheduled for later this month, and will decided over the weekend whether to do away with the panel altogether.

McCormick added that when he appointed the panel of seven Republican gun advocates in July, he expected that the economy would have rebounded to the point where lawmakers might want to concentrate on issues other than jobs.

"This is certainly of secondary importance right now," he said. "I think at this time we need to double back and focus in on economic issues."

Todd, R-Collierville and the chairman of the House State and Local Government Committee, was a chief architect of a controversial new state law that allows people with handgun carry permits to be armed in bars and restaurants that serve alcohol.

Todd and other supporters of the bill stressed that it would remain a crime to drink alcohol while carrying a gun in public.

Police say Todd was pulled over Tuesday night because his SUV was weaving and traveling 60 mph in a 40 mph zone. Court documents say Todd was unsteady on his feet, failed a roadside sobriety test and refused to take a breath alcohol test. A loaded .38-caliber gun was found in a holster stuffed between the driver's seat and center console.

Todd, a retired Memphis police officer who holds a state handgun carry permit, was arrested on charges of charges of possession of a gun while under the influence and drunken driving. He posted bail of $3,000 and was released from jail Wednesday morning.

It is not clear where Todd was coming from when he was arrested, though the affidavits states that he told officers he had had consumed two drinks. He later released a statement saying he was "deeply sorry for the events of last evening," but declined further comment on the advice of his attorney.

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