by Jeff Woods
House Republican leaders have decided to cancel meetings of their much-ballyhooed, brand new task force on gun rights rather than suffer an inevitable humiliation in the media. The task force chairman just went to jail for driving drunk with a loaded gun. Oops!
"With the chairman otherwise occupied," GOP leader Gerald McCormick notes wryly, it might be smart to scrap this whole task force idea. The first meetings, scheduled for later this month by chairman Curry Todd, are definitely off, McCormick says, and he'll decide over the weekend whether to do away with the panel altogether.
It has suddenly occurred to McCormick that the public might not be too keen on its elected officials focusing on the expansion of gun rights at this particular time.
"This is certainly of secondary importance right now," he tells the AP's Erik Schelzig. "I think at this time we need to double back and focus in on economic issues."
The gun-control crowd is trying to capitalize on Todd's arrest to make the case against state laws letting licensed gunman roam freely just about everywhere with loaded firearms.
"This is only the latest example of the dangers of guns carried in public and underscores the futility of trying to predict who will act responsibly and who will ultimately endanger public safety,.” says Kristen Rand of the Washington, D.C.-based Violence Policy Center.
But despite this setback for the gun lobby, no one should expect Todd's arrest to cause the gun-loving legislature to rethink the state's recently expanded gun laws. That's because Democrats and Republicans alike in the legislature are slaves to the NRA and fear giving even the slightest offense.
When Tennessee's newspapers used to keep track of such things, at the height of the gun debate in Tennessee, the state's licensed gunmen took five lives in a little more than a year. The Republican response was to blow it all off as hardly worth mentioning. Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey, one of the NRA's biggest proponents in Tennessee, went so far as to deny the facts and claim not a single one of our 300,000 handgun carry permit holders has caused any trouble whatsoever.
If they ignore murder and mayhem, Curry Todd's little misadventure isn't likely to sway them. To Tennessee Firearms Association president John Harris, Todd is the Jimmy Swaggart of the gun world.
“We don’t throw the Bible out just because preachers make mistakes,” Harris says.