Davis, Gill both back concealed-carry, agree on little else

NORMAL — Congressional candidates Rodney Davis and David Gill each endorsed concealed carry in Illinois, including allowing guns on college campuses.

It was one of the few issues that the Republican and Democratic candidates agreed on during a one-hour debate Wednesday at Illinois State University.

The debate, organized by the American Democracy Project at ISU, was held in a 740-seat hall that was about 90 percent full.

It was the first face-to-face meeting between the two major party candidates, except for an editorial board session at the State Journal-Register newspaper in Springfield and an informal meeting with State Farm insurance employees in Bloomington.

Independent candidate John Hartman of Edwardsville was not invited to participate, organizers said, because he had not reached a 10 percent threshold in public opinions polls in the 13th District. Hartman has been invited to two other debates, one next week in Springfield and another on Nov. 1 in Urbana.

Both candidates have received high marks from the influential National Rifle Association, but only Davis won the group's endorsement.

Gill, an emergency room physician, said he "reluctantly" supported concealed carry on campuses.

Asked if there were any places where guns should not be permitted, he responded grade schools and churches.

"I would be very limited in where I'd exclude them," he said. "I think that people should have the opportunity to defend themselves. That's the underlying principle. Should you be defenseless just bacause you're walking on the Quad at the U of I? That's where bad stuff happens."

He said he did not believe it would lead to more patients in hospital emergency rooms.

"It's been proven. It's been studied," said the Bloomington Democrat.

And Davis said that "concealed carry is a provision that should be available to Illinois and throughout the country."

He said he didn't believe there are any places guns should not be allowed.

"When you look at the Second Amendment, and you look at states that have concealed-carry laws, I don't think you see an exponential increase in crime and frankly there are statistics on both sides. Some statistics will tell you that there's an actual decrease in crime. I believe that gun owners and law-abiding citizens should have the ability to protect themselves when needed."

The candidates also agreed that more funding should be avalable for Pell Grants for college students.

"Bump them up," Gill said.

He said he would pay for the increases in the grants "by stopping giving money to oil companies, stop being in Afghanistan, have the millionaires and billionaires pay their share."

Davis, too, said he favored more spending on Pell Grants.

"You've got nine colleges and universities in this district. Pell grants are essential to ensuring their sucess and the students' ability to having an affordable education."

He said he would "reprioritize the way America spends money" to pay for the increased grant funding.

But through most of the debate the candidates reran their standard campaign talking points, Gill mentioning the need for higher taxes on the wealthy, for an expanded Medicare-type health system for all Americans and for an end to corporate-backed candidates.

Davis spoke of the need to repeal and replace the Affordable Health Care Act and to cut government spending to help small busineses and to grow the economy.

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wayward wrote on October 17, 2012 at 10:10 pm

So people would be allowed to carry concealed guns on campus, as long as they weren't smoking cigarettes?

Political Observer wrote on October 28, 2012 at 5:10 pm

No, this is just a fake issue in a poorly-written News-Gazette article that's designed to sell newspapers and bolster the News-Gazette's falling revenue stream -- it's a front-page story, designed to catch a potential reader's attention, but whatever information it attempts to provide regarding the concealed-carry issue ends up being completely irrelevant to anything going on in the real world.

Remember, the 2 candidates in this debate want to go to the US Congress, which doesn't have jurisdiction over the concealed-carry policy in Illinois.  (Since it's a state issue, it's up to the Illinois legislature to decide the issue.  Thus, the question is relevant for state electoral races, but not for federal races.)

Now that's not to say that a dishonest person like Tim Johnson won't pretend that there's a federal issue here.  You may recall that Johnson made a big issue a while back that he was going to introduce federal legislation to force concealed-carry on Illinois, but obviously it was just an election-year prank designed to raise more tea party money, win an NRA endorsement, personally benefit Tim Johnson and things like that.  And, for that matter, when has Johnson ever gotten any real legislation passed by Congress, other than for re-naming a post office somewhere over by Bloomington (I believe), a number of years ago? Finally, does any one honestly think that the Supreme Court would agree that a state doesn't have the right to set it's own concealed-carry policy and that its policy could be dictated by the US Congress?  (Actually, it would be pretty funny to see if Johnson ever bothered to even draft the bill that he said he would, and if he did, find out how much it got laughed at by other legislators before being filed in the circular file...but you never get that kind of follow-through by the News-Gazette, do you?)

In any event, even if the State of Illinois ultimately got bullied into concealed-carry legislation by the NRA and a coalition of tea-party legislators, you can bet there would still be an exemption prohibiting concealed-carry on campus.

vcponsardin wrote on October 18, 2012 at 2:10 am
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Concealed weapons on campus?  Thank goodness I'm only a year away from early retirement...

pattsi wrote on October 18, 2012 at 9:10 am

Is there a logical bifurcation between being an emergency room physician and supporting conceal carry?

Political Observer wrote on October 28, 2012 at 5:10 pm

Yes, they're completely bifurcated.