DECATUR - Candidates for the 51st State Senate District took shots at one another over their records on gun rights Thursday, as Tim Dudley struck back at opponents who he said mischaracterized one of his votes on the Macon County Board in 2008.
"It's an outright lie," Dudley said. "He pointed to a nonbinding resolution I voted on on the county board, which had no practical effect. I joined other pro-gun members on the board voting against it."
The Decatur Democrat spoke at the Decatur Civic Center alongside Macon County Sheriff Thomas Schneider, former Sheriff Jerry Dawson and sheriffs from Shelby and Moultrie counties. He said he would sponsor or support concealed-carry legislation if elected.
"Illinois is only one of two states in the nation that doesn't allow concealed carry," Dudley said. "We must have a state policy to ensure that the constitutional rights of our friends and neighbors are defended."
Wisconsin is the other state that does not permit concealed-carry.
The news conference, which was attended by several of Dudley's supporters and some local Republicans, comes after Dudley's opponent, incumbent state Sen. Kyle McCarter, R-Lebanon, sent out a mailing to 20,000 constituents that mentioned Dudley's vote.
The February 2008 vote concerned a nonbinding resolution presented to the Macon County Board by a gun rights chat room on the Internet with no identified leader or members, according to board minutes. It resolved that the board would "oppose the enactment of any legislation that would infringe upon the right of the people to keep and bear arms �" The measure passed 10-9, with Dudley voting "nay."
Speaking Thursday, McCarter said Dudley did not defend the 2nd Amendment.
"Actions speak louder than words," McCarter said. "He voted against a resolution supporting the 2nd Amendment as a member of the Macon County board. It doesn't matter if it's binding or nonbinding."
Dudley also took the opportunity to take a shot at McCarter's record, claiming McCarter had not lent any support to a concealed-carry bill in the state Senate that stalled in committee. McCarter said Democrats stonewalled the bill and cited his endorsement by the Illinois State Rifle Association as proof of his support for Second Amendment rights.
"That's just a distraction from what he's done," McCarter said. "The truth is, that bill was sent to the Public Health Committee and never even called for a hearing. His party killed that bill."
Speaking after the news conference, Schneider said he is in support of concealed-carry as long as the state would fund police efforts to make it happen.
"I think it needs to be a funded mandate, not an unfunded mandate," Schneider said. "We can't put the responsibility (for funding it) on sheriff's departments."