JUST IN CASE public furor over handguns may again be subsiding as the days increase since the killing of John Lennon, we relay the following pertinent item from the New York Daily News: at approximately 3:55 a.m. yesterday, that city set a record -- for homicide. A Brooklyn woman killed in her home was homicide victim No. 1,734, making 1980 "the bloodiest year in city history, with two weeks yet to go."

But, surprise, gun-lovers -- this death was a stabbing, which could bring sighs of relief to the handgun industry and other pistol-pushers. The weapon was just a simple old kitchen knife, and so maybe, heh, heh, every kitchen knife in America ought to be registered. And what aboutg all the other weapons that are used to kill? Chief of Detectives James Sullivan was quick to note that while the record-breaker was a stabbing, by the far the major factor in New York's gun record was -- guess -- the proliferation of handguns throughout the city.

Sure, but doesn't New York have a tough gun-control law? It does, indeed, but Chief Sullivan would be the first to point out that national gun-control legislation is the only effective approach. Just as handguns can be bought so easily outside of the District, so they can outside New York. Both John Lennon and former Rep. Allard Lowenstein, who was killed in his Manhattan office last summer, were shot with handguns purchased outside New York state.

True, but think of all the handguns -- millions and millions -- that have never been used for murder -- aren't they wonderful? Of course, and we could go on and on with this game of statistics. Still, it would appear that the more people who have guns, the more people get killed by them. People do kill people, and they're doing it at quite a mean clip these days -- with handguns. At least for New York, January will give them a clean state for a few minutes or so.