Will it take the killing of 120 people next time? Or will Congress only act when this nation's insanely lax gun laws are exploited by terrorists, and result in politically motivated slaughter of innocents by agents of Al Qaeda? Will even that make a difference?

President Obama didn't even hint at the assault weapons ban in his address Sunday night, and I suppose that's OK. It might have been viewed as tacky. But he needs to seize the initiative. The shooting in Colorado gives his administration a golden opportunity to take the side of the American people against the gun lobby, in an issue that has overwhelming public support.

I'm not naïve. Even if the president attempts to exert leadership on this issue, I doubt very much that Congress, in an election year, is going to ban the sale of assault weapons that should only be in the hands of law enforcement and the military. When it comes to guns, Congress shows off its yellow streak proudly, almost defiantly.

In fact, that's the difference between Holmes and his unindicted coconspirator: Congress is more premeditated, more corrupt, more aware of the consequences its actions. There is no question about its sanity.

Unlike Holmes, who can be expected to make repentant noises as soon as he snaps out of it, the members of Congress who are responsible for its paralysis on gun control can be expected to be as snarling and defiant as a cheap gangster in a pre-Code Jimmy Cagney movie.

Take this nugget of sophistry, for instance: "I don't think society can keep sick, demented individuals from obtaining any type of weapon to kill people," Sen. Ron Johnson, Republican of Wisconsin, told Fox News on Sunday.

By that kind of logic, we should just repeal all gun control measures and let the nuts and hoods roam the streets, armed to the teeth, countered by a similarly armed citizenry. The entire United States would be like the Wild West. Yee-haw! (But then again, frontier towns like Tombstone had strict laws against carrying guns within the city limits.)

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