That's how much the Grinch's heart grew when his small, mean, fearful heart broke so love could enter it.
Can our national heart do the same? Will the tragedy at Newtown crack it enough to allow love to enter it? Can it grow enough to hold compassion and responsibility for everyone in our nation?
I think it can.
I think it must.
The guns are not going to go away. I wouldn't want them to - I have used guns for pleasure shooting and for hunting, and I took pride in my marksmanship, and take pride in the marksmanship skills of my children. But there are ways to better control them - and we can easily do those things.
First we need to grow our national heart at least 3 sizes, because without that heart, all discussions will take place in fear. They need to come from a place of love. Tough love, maybe, but love, not hatred, not fear.
Second, we need to implement a registry for guns in the same way we do automobiles. We own more cars than we do guns and if we can have agencies handling the training of new drivers, of testing and issuing licenses, registering cars, and then re-registering them and renewing licenses for millions of people, it should be a piece of cake to do so for guns. After a while, it will become a habit and the natural thing to do. The laws that govern the transfer of ownership of a car could be the same for the transfer of ownership of guns. Gun manufacturers already put numbers on them, registering that number would be no more difficult than registering a VIN.
Some people are restricted from driving cars, and can never acquire a license. We can make the same provisions for gun ownership. There are health, mental, and age conditions that restrict driver's licenses, so why not apply the same standards to gun ownership? The details may be different as to what health, mental, and age conditions apply, but the process would be the same.
Yes, I know there are old guns that are being found in attics and basements and storage sheds - those can be folded in over time. As they are found and brought in to be registered and tagged, and enter the system, the number of unknown guns will decline.
Like races and other sports rallies, contestants register and bring their equipment in to be inspected and used in the games. Doing so with guns is already informally done. It would be easy to make it formal. It can also be done when people purchase hunting permits - a weapons inspection to check the condition of the gun and its tags before hunters hit the fields is a good idea. Good hunters already do this anyway.
We have laws detailing how and where cars can be parked. Responsible gun owners already have safe places and ways to store their guns and ammo and cleaning supplies. We used them when our children were growing up, and they learned guns were tools, and how to properly care for them in the same way they learned how to drive. Making laws detailing how and where guns can be stored, something responsible gun owners are already doing, should be easy.
And yes, licensing and tagging guns can be a state issue, the way driver's licenses and tags are. Adding it to the auto tag licensing and tagging agencies may cause an initial burden, but once it's in place, it wouldn't be all that hard to maintain. We don't currently restrict the number of cars a person can own and tag and drive, so I see no reason the same freedom wouldn't be applied to gun ownership. Some people have zero cars, whether by choice or finances or employment or health, guns would be the same. Some people would own many cars and motorcycles, whether by choice or finances or employment, So be it.
We have taxes on gasoline, why not bullets?
We track cough medicine, surely we can track purchases of ammunition - purchasers would merely have to show their carry permit and registration for the gun(s) for which they are buying ammo. Easy peasy.
After a while, it will feel natural and expected to register and annually tag your guns the way you do your cars and motorcycles (and I think we should do the same for bicycles, but that's another rant). Buying ammo won't be any more painful than buying gasoline or cough medicine.
Yes, guns will still be used to commit crimes. After all, cars are used to commit crimes. We won't stop that. But we will make the owners more accountable. People who legally own guns might be more willing to report their loss when they get stolen. They'd be less likely to use the gun as a weapon against people, but there would still be those who do - I lived in a neighborhood where angry girlfriends would steal their boyfriend's car and ram it into their boyfriend's house or apartment. We can't legislate stupid, but we can make them more accountable for their actions.
Until we remove the mythological from the acts of humans, we cannot address the true causes and find real and lasting solutions. To blame "Satan" for acts of evil is to remove responsibility from the person who committed it, from the people who contributed to that person's development and eventual actions, from the society that says "such a shame" and does nothing to prevent it from happening again.
I said these words after the Murrah Bombing, after Columbine, and still, our society collectively calls these individual beings' actions "acts of Satan".
We cannot prosecute Satan - it's not a real being. We cannot rehabilitate Satan - it's not a real being. The acts were evil, yes, evil committed by a human, not some amorphous mythological being. It is the individual who must bear responsibility and prosecution for their actions, not some mythological non-corporeal entity. Blaming Satan makes us powerless to act against the criminal, and removes blame from the criminal.
We know who did this atrocity. Instead of blaming Satan, we need to get off our lazy, smug, self-satisfied asses and evaluate what led this man to steal his mother's weapons (and why did she feel she needed them?) to shoot her and the children and innocent teachers in the school? What did we miss in his behavior, what clues did he leave that he was cracking that we ignored, and what can we do about it?
Long before this man acquired his guns, he was sending out signals he needed help - and we are such a heartless society that we ignored those signals. Maybe he was told to "man up" and left to deal with his issues alone. Everyone who has taken up a gun to randomly kill others has had advance warning signs that those around them chose to ignore. It wasn't their "business", and by ignoring those warning signs, we lose.
Before we talk gun control and gun rights and gun registries and gun licensing and tagging, we must talk compassion, love, caring, helping. We must grow a national heart.
But we have to grow our individual hearts first, ones that aren't filled with selfish fears. Maybe we've had enough gun-related tragedies that our small, mean hearts crack so they can take in kindness, compassion, responsibility, and lawfulness. When we do that, our national heart will grow, too.
The Grinch's heart broke and grew 3 sizes. Ours can do the same.