NOT ALL weapons are equipped with silencers, but Congress doesn't hear any gunfire unless the guns go off at a school. Almost forgotten now are last year's vows to enact tougher gun controls after a singularly awful rash of terrorism in schools, summer camps, office buildings, houses of worship and other places where people gathered. Everyday shootings, including of thousands of children each year, don't count for much on Capitol Hill. So though Congress has returned to work, its members seem unlikely to return to any of the gun legislation they were so busily introducing (and diluting) when the headlines were full of gun violence.

When the House last toyed with legislation, most Republicans were scrambling to join one of two camps: the do-littles or the do-nothings. With guidance from NRA lobbyists who already had helped reduce a Senate bill to scraps, House leaders had narrowed the gun-legislation debate to definitions of "gun show" and of who should be considered a vendor when it comes to requiring background checks on purchasers. Any stronger suggestions--to curb gun-running, for example, with limits on the number of handguns that anybody may buy in a given year--were given short shrift. And the most sensible proposal, to ban handguns and assault-style weapons, gets no hearing. How sad that it may require another tragedy to prod Congress to take any action at all.