VIOLENCE WATCH : Mayhem and Money

Amid the righteous outrage over last week's shooting death of 3-year-old Stephanie Kuhen, it was tempting to believe that some crime, perhaps this crime, would so touch people that it could bring an end to the carnage that occurs here almost nightly. Certainly Stephanie's family hoped so as she was buried Monday. Certainly President Clinton hoped so as he railed against the gang violence that claimed her life. So did Mayor Richard Riordan and a host of City Council members as they vowed a new crackdown on gangs and violence.

But within days of Stephanie's death, another innocent child fell. On Friday night Richard Andrew Bautista was shot in what police say was a totally unprovoked attack by a gunman whose identity and motive remain unknown. The 12-year-old altar boy, a passenger in a car his cousin was driving on the Harbor Freeway, was going home from a Dodgers game when a van approached from behind and a man began shooting. A bullet passed through the brain of the Whittier boy; he remains on life support after surgery.

No arrest has been made in the Bautista case. On Tuesday police were holding five people in connection with the murder of the Kuhen child.

If the last week has taught us anything, it is that it will take far more than fist-banging press conferences, funerals and hospital vigils to free this city from gun-related violence. It will take alert parents, money for programs to keep kids out of gangs and to monitor gang members on the streets, tighter gun control laws and a new intolerance of using bullets to avenge hurts either real or imagined.

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