'Once again, there's an awful lot of guns out there."
A seething middle-aged man, fighting demons real or imagined, had just turned Fifth Avenue and 33rd Street into a free-fire zone.
There would be plenty of time to sort out the depressing details: What exactly set off 58-year-old laid-off women's-accessories designer Jeffrey Johnson? (A feud with a former co-worker.) What signs of instability had he exhibited before? (That remains unclear.) Where did he get the .45-caliber, semiautomatic, seven-shot handgun he carried in his briefcase? (In Florida, 20 years ago.) How many of the injured bystanders were shot by police? (All.)
But two facts were already certain as the mayor and Police Commissioner Ray Kelly concluded their first visit to the shooting scene: Gun violence had taken a new round of victims, and the laws that make it so easy are highly unlikely to change.
Politicians across the political spectrum and across America -- Bloomberg excepted -- refuse to take on the powerful gun lobby, led by the National Rifle Association. Many Republicans actually seem to believe the preposterous guns-make-us-safer claim. Most Democrats are too politically timid to fight it.
And so someone shoots up a movie theater or a Sikh temple or a midtown sidewalk, often with a legal gun or guns -- and a whole nation just accepts the notion that nothing can possibly be done.
The New York mayor can't change that. Not alone, he can't. But give Bloomberg credit for refusing to keep his mouth shut when the bullets fly. "Once again," he said, "there's an awful lot of guns out there."
1. Full-metal intransigence
2. Semiautomatic rigidity
3. Double-barreled pandering
4. Pump-action intimidation
5. Shootout at the Empire State Corral
ASKED AND UNANSWERED: Did you steal Max Moran's plein-air paintings? If so, the Mattituck impressionist would like them back, ideally in time for his "Hung Out to Dry" exhibition at the Jedediah Hawkins/Barn Gallery in Jamesport through Sept. 16 . . . Why not bring the Ryder Cup to Bethpage Black in 2024? Twelve years should be enough time to manicure the greens . . . How many dumb cooking-the-books jokes has Holtsville's Frank Mirando heard now that the "stockbroker by day, culinary crackhead by night" has reached the final four on Fox's "Master Chef"? . . . How many Center Moriches students were hoping their AP history essays would never be found? Wouldn't some of them have done better just extrapolating (a perfect AP word, right?) from the multiple-choice results? . . . Does the demise of radio's 94X mean that kids aren't into oldies, even their own oldies? The station, just acquired by Connoisseur Media, is flipping to current rock.
Follow on Twitter @henican