By Erik Schelzig, Associated Press
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — State Rep. Curry Todd, a retired Memphis police officer who has pleaded guilty to drunken driving and gun charges, is speaking out against Gov. Bill Haslam’s proposal to keep retired law enforcement officers with DUI convictions from being able to carry firearms in public.
Todd was arrested in Nashville in 2011 after he failed a roadside sobriety test and police found a loaded .38-caliber gun stuffed next to the driver’s seat. The Collierville Republican later pleaded guilty, but has easily been re-elected to the Legislature ever since.
The Haslam administration bill carried by Majority Leader Gerald McCormick, R-Chattanooga, would give the Tennessee Peace Officers Standards and Training Commission the authority to ban retired officers from obtaining handgun carry permits if they were convicted of drunken driving once in the previous five years or twice within the past decade. It would only apply to new applicants.
The bill was up for a House floor vote on Monday evening after passing the Senate unanimously last month. But the vote was delayed after Todd questioned the need for the bill.
“I have no problem with removing someone’s firearm if they’ve been convicted of a DUI,” said Todd, whose state-issued carry permit was suspended after his 2013 guilty plea. But Todd said that he doesn’t support giving the POST Commission the added authority over retired officers.
“This is not needed; this is redundant,” said Todd. “They’re actually going into areas they shouldn’t be going in, and I think they’re trying to get a little kingdom out there.”
Todd served on the POST commission in the 1980s and was again appointed to the panel by House Speaker Beth Harwell, R-Nashville, last year. But Todd said he resigned over scheduling conflicts.
Todd said any state law on the matter would be superseded by the federal Law Enforcement Officers Safety Act, which gives off-duty and retired officers the ability to carry their concealed firearms nationwide. Todd told his colleagues that he expects to obtain his certification under the federal law next year.
Rep. William Lamberth, R-Portland, said disagreements about the bill amount to a “turf war” over jurisdiction, and argued that the measure is aimed at keeping former officers with multiple drunken driving convictions from getting “special treatment.”
“If anybody were to get multiple DUIs after retirement, surely all of us would agree that they should have to have special evaluations and have to go through the same type of evaluations and standards and review that any other citizen would,” he said.
A vote on the bill was rescheduled for April 18.