TWO GUYS who had been downing drinks at the Magic City Lounge in Miami early Tuesday decided at about 4 a.m. that it was time to hit the road. They picked up their drinks and headed for the door, when the manager informed them that under Florida law they couldn't take the drinks outside. This didn't sit well, according to police, and words were exchanged as the two were ushered outside. That didn't end the matter. The two got into a car, and as they drove by, one of them opened fire with an AK-47 assault rifle. He sprayed at least 30 bullets from this fully automatic model, maybe more, because police said some of the casings could have landed inside the car, where police didn't immediately count them. One bullet blew right through the 3-inch steel door of the place and killed a woman who was sitting at the bar. Five other people inside and outside were hit in the arms, legs, back and head.

Shooting any kind of a weapon from a car in this manner is of course illegal. For that matter, so is the use of these assault-style firearms as fully automatic weapons. But thanks to the soft-on-killer-weapons attitude of the Bush administration, the market for semi-automatic assault weapons is, unlike the victim of Tuesday's gunfire -- alive and well. The only requirement is that there be no more importing of certain models deemed by this administration to have no legitimate sporting or recreational uses. Yet if the same kinds of weapons are made in the U.S.A., the administration says it's fine -- and never mind that the drug cartels in Colombia as well as in this country rely on this supply for their arsenals.

This doesn't make a whole lot of sense when you read about people being mowed down by assault weapons around the country -- and the police will be the first to tell you just that. In fact that's what they told the Senate last week, and it help produce approval of a partial ban on semiautomatic assault weapons.

But that approval is far from final. Leaders of the NRA continue to spend impressive amounts on Capitol Hill to oppose any restrictions whatsoever on the kinds of weapons America allows on the open market. They'll tell you that killings of people are going to happen anyway and that criminals can always get all the weapons they want. The police who are on the wrong ends of these weapons don't see it that way at all. Who knows better -- the current leaders of the NRA in Washington, or the members of every major law enforcement organization across the country?