THE BLOODBATHS BY gunfire -- America's haunting national shame -- don't stop. Mad terrorists, armed to the teeth, kill and maim where innocent people gather: in schools, summer camps, office buildings, houses of worship and who-knows-where-next. Increasingly jumpy local officials scramble for metal detectors, security guards, video monitors -- anything that might ward off a massacre in their midst. This week the scene is a prayer rally for teenagers in a Fort Worth Baptist church. A man with a 9 mm semiautomatic handgun, a .380-caliber handgun and, for good measure, a pipe bomb opens fire, cursing the Baptist religion. Taking a seat in the back pew, he shoots himself in the head. Six people die right there, and a 14-year-old girl succumbs the next day. Seven others are wounded.
The routine groping for explanations resumes, with too many congressional lackeys of the gun lobby blaming everything but the omnipresence of concealable firearms. The worshipers of weaponry dismiss the need for more public safety measures. Enforce the laws on the books, they say. Join in crying out against evil -- a "wave of evil," as Republican presidential candidate George W. Bush put it yesterday: "I don't know of a law -- a governmental law -- that will put love in people's hearts."
But people do know that a lack of strong laws will put bullets in guns and guns in hands, including the hands of children. Even the best background checks won't prevent deranged people from purchasing concealable firearms. Take these weapons off the general market, and you will eliminate much of the problem. Will Congress respond? Must the country suffer serial mass killings while its lawmakers remain in denial?