News Local/State

Congressman Rodney Davis Says He’s ‘Not Aware Of’ Invitation To Gun Violence Town Hall

Congressman Rodney Davis speaks with Visit Champaign County and the U.S. Travel Association about federal government, local businesses and tourism.

Congressman Rodney Davis speaks with Visit Champaign County and the U.S. Travel Association about federal government, local businesses and tourism. Daniel Baker/Illinois Public Media

Congressman Rodney Davis says he is "not aware of" any invitation to a town hall meeting on gun violence Thursday in Champaign, but multiple people say they have invited Davis to attend.

Speaking to reporters on Tuesday after a roundtable on tourism in Champaign, the Republican from Taylorville referenced his experience at a shooting last year at a Congressional baseball practice in Virginia. Davis said he's happy to talk with those who disagree with him on the issue. 

“I have my own viewpoint as a victim of violent crime, and a victim of gun violence. And it doesn’t always agree with those who actually want to just push an agenda that only focuses on the firearm side of the equation," Davis said.

"Let's listen to everybody, listen to the kids who have their viewpoint--whether I agree or disagree with them on what their solutions are, they need to be heard," Davis said. "And listen to the victims of gun violence. And let's not just push a political agenda, because frankly--that's what happens. And unfortunately, we don't get to solutions when it comes to reducing the amount of violence in this country." 

The group UIUC Students Against Gun Violence is helping high school students in Urbana and Champaign plan Thursday's gun violence forum at the Champaign Public Library--an event promoted on facebook as, 'Town Hall for Our Lives IL-13'. Organizer Valerie O'Brien says her group invited both Davis and 13th District Democratic challenger Betsy Dirksen Londrigan to attend, but only Londrigan has accepted their invitation so far. 

"One of the community members who visited Davis’s office [Monday] has said that his staff responded that he never does in-person town halls and that he’ll likely be out of town Thursday," O'Brien said through email. 

In another email to WILL, Terry Maher with the group Bend the Arc: C-U said that she was one of the people who invited Davis to attend on Monday at his Champaign office.

"I am one of the several people who were inside Rodney Davis' office on Monday, April 2, to present the petition asking Davis to hold a town hall on gun violence," Maher said in the email. "The presenter told the receptionist that a town hall was now scheduled for April 5 at the Champaign Public Library."

Maher also confirmed O'Brien's account of the exchange with the staff member at Davis's office.

Survivors of the mass shooting in Parkland, Florida in February have called for town halls nationwide. The events follow a series of protests, across the United States and around the world—calling for increased gun control. 

This article has been updated on Wednesday April 4 at 4:45am to include information from Terry Maher. The headline has also been corrected to more accurately represent Davis's statement to our reporter.