Bishop Jim Curry testifies on gun violence prevention

[Episcopal Diocese of Connecticut] Testimony of the Right Reverend James E. Curry, suffragan bishop in the Diocese of Connecticut, before the Gun Violence Prevention Working Group.

January 28, 2013

Senator Looney, Representative Miner, members of the Gun Violence Prevention Working Group, thank you for this opportunity to speak before you.

My name is James Curry and I am one of the three bishops of The Episcopal Diocese of Connecticut. We have two parishes in Newtown: St. John’s Episcopal Church in Sandy Hook and Trinity Episcopal Church in the center of town. I am very proud of the clergy and people of these parishes as they minister to a community harmed so deeply by senseless slaughter and forever changed by the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School. I grieve for the living as well as the dead. No parent, no priest, no community should ever have to bury children who were victims of such violence. I never want to have to stand again at the grave of a six year old like Ben Wheeler, a child of energy and joy and a special love for lighthouses.

At the root of these killings is access to guns with rapid-fire ability and high capacity magazines. That is a reality that we as a society must face. The massacre in Newtown is only the latest example of wholesale murder made possible because of the availability of assault weapons – a technology that has no place in our communities and no need among our citizenry.

I am here today to urge you to support legislation to ban assault weapons, limit the capacity of gun magazines, and institute universal background checks for any purchase of firearms. In the face of the slaughter in Sandy Hook we need to find a commonsense response that puts the lives of our children ahead of an un-restricted right to gun ownership. Charles Ramsey, Police Commissioner of Philadelphia, is absolutely right when he says: If the slaughter of 20 babies doesn’t wake you up, then I give up, because I don’t know what will. We need reasonable gun control in this country, or guess what, it will happen again.”

The Episcopal Church supports the constitutional right of law-abiding citizens to keep and bear arms, but we also stand, by resolutions of our General Convention and Executive Council, for public policies to ban assault weapons.

The massacre in Sandy Hook is a wake up call for us as a society to challenge the violence of our culture and discern comprehensive responses to cycles of violence. We, the Episcopal Church, commit to building educational, formational, and spiritual resources toward this end.

In the past we, as a society, have been very slow to recognize and change the cycles of violence that infect our communities. Groups like Mothers Against Violence here in Hartford have been raising their cries for action and justice for years and we have not listened well. Now is the time to listen and to act. You have the opportunity now in the wake of the shootings in Sandy Hook to make significant legislation that can protect all our children and make our communities safer.


  1. Dan Odenweller says:

    “We need reasonable gun control in this country, or guess what, it will happen again.” Both Bishop Jim Curry, and The Very Reverend Gary Hall who called the proposed legislation “common sense legal action.”

    It might be time to review the existing body of firearms control legislation, then define the short- comings, then review how the proposal overcomes the shortcomings. Then perhaps we could dialog, knowing what the goal was.

    Surely this issue deserves as much effort as the Anglican/Episcopal issue. Let us clearly define the goal, and the factual basis for the solution, firesty. Then draft the legislation for the common sense solution.

  2. Daniel Vélez Rivera says:

    Bravo Bp. Curry, your message is what the citizens need to support. The rights of the people to bear arms is not in question, but the right to bear weapons of mass destruction is not a right, it’s s crime – that has tbeo be questioned..

  3. Theron Patrick says:

    Evil exists. That is a bold and not Politically Correct statement. The killing field in Connecticut is at point. An evil man killed his mother, 20 children and 6 adults. Note that I said an evil man. I did not say an evil system, a failed system, the government, an evil thing etc. It was the evil act of a man. His sole intent was to cause the most anguish and go out infamously. Evil cannot reside in an object. It cannot reside in a system. It can only reside in a soul.

    It is not Politically Correct because somehow over much of the past century a part of the population has developed the belief that “the government” is responsible for and has the power to protect the individual, particularly the children, from harm. To attribute this murder to a single evil man, who is dead signals a failure of “the government” to meet that expectation. A demand that the government “do something” is heard across the land. “If only the government would do ______” then this would not have happened” is the cry and is nonsense.

    Unfortunately there is damn little that “the Government” can do. The second half of new(ish) belief that “the government has the power to protect the individual, particularly the children, from harm” is not only wrong it is stupid. The primary persons responsible for our own security is We. That does not stop many in Government from trying. The results are many times useless and sometimes worse than doing nothing.

    With great fanfare the folks at local, state and federal levels as well as corporations and other institutions turned many places into “weapon free zones.” Of course the law and policy that prohibits guns, knives, pepper spray etc. in certain places means nothing to evil.

    The effect of this law and policy at the killing fields in Sandy Hook is that the courageous men and women that stood up to evil had been disarmed by their own state so that they had no chance of stopping him but could only sacrifice their lives to slow evil down and give the children a few more seconds to escape. But the cry goes out from a few people that we have to do something. As in Bishop Jim Curry’s case they say it is the evil black guns that are the problem. They say it is the 30 round magazines that is the problem. Others say it is the Mental Health system that is the problem. Many say it is the video games that cause the problem. Nonsense. The gun control initiatives, like the “weapon free zones” are simply politicians/ policy makers making noise so that they can say they did something. The Mental Health system really could use a lot of attention and cash, but not just because of Sandy Hook. (Due to efforts in our Parish I have come face to face with the dismal failure of our current “system.”) Trying to censor video games and/or movies is a fool’s errand.

    Please don’t advocate “do something.” Join me and my brother and sister Vets in saluting the heroic women of Sandy Hook who gave the last full measure of devotion to their charges and praying for the souls of the innocent. (I try to leave the judgment of the evil to Him.) Then proceed with caution, thought and prayer.

    I suggest that much like we have done with pilots, we permit the staffs of our schools to be armed. In this area like many areas of the citizen’s life we need to get the government out of the way. (Not a new thought on my part, Mr. Jefferson expressed this concept many times and is most often quoted “the government that governs least governs best, because the people discipline themselves.”)

    Theron Patrick, Commander USCG (Ret.)

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