A woman cries as she leaves the Uvalde Civic Center, Tuesday May 24, 2022, in Uvalde, Texas An 18-year-old gunman opened fire Tuesday at a Texas elementary school, killing multiple children and a teacher and wounding others, Gov. Greg Abbott said, and the gunman was dead. Credit: William Luther / AP

The BDN Editorial Board operates independently from the newsroom, and does not set policies or contribute to reporting or editing articles elsewhere in the newspaper or on bangordailynews.com.

19 elementary school children and two teachers were shot dead by a teenage gunman in Texas on Tuesday. 19 children. Dead. Again.

The horror has again been met with sorrow, outrage, thoughts and prayers, and calls for action.

We would like to believe that Americans — and their elected leaders — have grown tired of seeing children massacred in their schools and will support the changes needed to prevent more of these killings. But, sadly, we’ve seen similar gut-wrenching tragedies before and the country has failed to act.

The shooting in Uvalde, Texas, is the deadliest school shooting since the massacre at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut, less than 10 years ago. In the nearly a decade since then, there has been a lot of talk about making it harder for people like the killers in these cases — and hundreds of others — to get assault weapons and large stores of ammunition.

A lot of talk, but no real action at the federal level.

Instead, children, like the second, third and fourth graders at the Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, have been taught how to bar the doors to their classrooms and how best to hide in what we call “active shooter drills,” as if there are combatants on a battlefield.

We drill young children to protect themselves against assassins but we don’t take straightforward, commonsense steps to try to stop the often well-armed, armor-clad assassins in the first place.

We have failed the children in Uvalde, Newtown, Parkland, Littleton and other locales on a list as long as it is heartbreaking. We have also failed the adults murdered at grocery stores, churches, concerts, movie theaters and other places.

“Why are we willing to live with this carnage? Why do we keep letting this happen?” President Joe Biden asked Tuesday night in a brief speech at the White House that was a mixture of anguish and anger. “Where in God’s name is our backbone to have the courage to deal with it and stand up to the [gun] lobbies?”

“It’s time to turn this pain into action,” he exhorted.

Yes, we need to devote more resources to the diagnosis and treatment of brain disorders. But, other countries have citizens with mental illness, yet their rates of death from gun violence are generally far lower than in the U.S.

Yes, we need to address the crisis of hopelessness that has pushed too many people toward violence — toward themselves and others. But, other countries have people who feel alone, disconnected from society and bereft, yet the rates of death from gun violence are far lower in most other countries than in the U.S.

The common denominator in these cases — and the high number of suicides in the U.S. — is the easy access to guns, especially, in the case of mass shootings, guns that can kill a large number of people very quickly.

Most gun owners are law-abiding. So too are most drivers, medical providers, business owners, farmers, landlords and countless others, yet we have myriad laws and regulations that govern their behavior — to keep others safe.

The Supreme Court has made it clear that the gun rights articulated in the 2nd Amendment are not unlimited. It is long past time for Congress to draft and pass legislation that curbs access to guns, including, for example, consideration of better background checks and limits on private sales. Such legislation is supported, in concept, by the majority of Americans, although support for stricter gun laws has waned in recent years.

It is also long past time for the supporters of gun rights to come to the table with workable restrictions that they support. Simply saying “no” is no longer acceptable.

The National Rifle Association is scheduled to hold its annual meeting in Houston beginning Friday. This is the forum and time for discussion and support of commonsense measures that can help prevent tragedies like the one in Uvalde.

The BDN Editorial Board

The Bangor Daily News editorial board members are Publisher Richard J. Warren, Editorial Page Editor Susan Young, Assistant Editorial Page Editor Matt Junker and BDN President Todd Benoit. Young has worked...