Gun mania

Left uncorrected, it would have added up to the ultimate irony of 1981. There , after all, was the landmark ordinance prohibiting the sale or possession of handguns in Morton Grove, Ill. The ban was upheld in the closing days of last year by a federal judge, although the National Rifle Association said it would appeal the ruling. Meantime, while all that judicial activity was underway on handguns, guess what the Illinois legislature was doing. It enacted a bill, subsequently signed into law, that authorized the public sale of - would you believe it? - machine guns.

Fortunately, there has now been a serious rethinking of the legislation at all levels of Illinois government. As a result, state officials are asking that no machine gun sales be allowed until the ''ambiguities'' in the law are resolved. Then only responsible persons, such as gun manufacturers themselves, will be permitted to have possession of machine guns in Illinois (the avowed intention of the law in the first place), rather than, say, any person coming in off the streets.

Whew! What good would the ban on handguns in Morton Grove have been if you could merely step outside the town somewhere and pick up a weapon even more lethal?

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