NASHVILLE, Tenn. - The sponsor of a bill that would allow handgun carry permit holders to carry their weapons into places that serve alcohol said the governor, police chiefs and the media have misfired.
Representative Curry Todd said the "Guns in Bars" bill, as opponents have often called it, should be called the "Restaurant Carry" bill.
"It's never been about that. It's been sensationalized," Todd said Tuesday, on the eve of an expected House override of Governor Phil Bredeson's veto of the bill last week.
The Memphis lawmaker has pushed the bill since he arrived in the House 11 years ago.
"This is a restaurant carry bill whereby if they happen to have a bar you, as a citizen with a handgun carry permit can go in there [with the weapon] as long as you are not drinking," he continued.
Rep. Todd stresses that if restaurants or bars don't want to allow guns inside they can post a sign saying so.
Monday, he chastised the governor's veto on the House floor shortly after the document was officially read into the record, saying, "I want to tell you what the governor can do with that piece of paper he just sent."
The remark was followed by an assortment of laughs and groans from fellow lawmakers.
Tuesday, when News 2 asked Todd if he stood by those comments he replied, "No comment."
He, however, had plenty to say about how he felt his bill had been mischaracterized by the media and Governor Bredesen.
During the governor's veto announcement last week, several large city police chiefs, including Metro Chief Ronal Serpas, lined up behind him.
"I think he sensationalized it with the law enforcement community there, and I don't think he properly portrayed the bill," Todd said.
He said he has head from many officers, chiefs and sheriffs who support the bill.
Monday, the governor repeated his opposition to the bill.
"For a couple of hundred years in this country we have understood that rationale for not mixing guns and alcohol," he said. "To change it this way in the state, for reasons that don't seem the least bit clear, I think is a real mistake."
Rep. Todd and a majority of House members are expected to override the veto Wednesday morning.
The Senate will look at the issue Thursday.
A simple majority in both chambers would make the bill law.