Local officials and public health experts are calling for stricter gun laws following a Texas school shooting that took the lives of at least 19 children and two adults.

Massachusetts Rep. Jake Auchincloss pushed for more gun safety laws and the disbandment of the National Rifle Association after Tuesday’s news from Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas.

“The NRA and their MAGA enablers are going to say this is a mental health problem in the country. They're going to explicitly or implicitly blame immigrants or our national security apparatus or domestic security apparatus for this,” Auchincloss told GBH’s Morning Edition Wednesday. “And it's all just meant to distract from what the actual problem is. The actual problem is our lack of commonsense gun safety regulations, particularly background checks.”

The incident in Uvalde was the 27th school shooting so far in 2022, and came just 10 days after 10 Black people were killed in what authorities have deemed a racially motivated shooting in Buffalo, New York.

At the municipal level, Massachusetts police chiefs say the work is already being done in their districts to prepare students and teachers for school shootings, including lockdown drills and trainings. Salem Police Chief Lucas Miller says his department also prepares by thinking about ways to limit the damage shooters can inflict.

“How can we limit the number of people who are hurt? How can we get to that scene quicker?” Miller said. “We will recommit ourselves to preventing this kind of thing and to mitigating it, but I'm afraid this is a growing trend, and it is as dismaying as anything I've ever encountered in my career.”

Ruben Quesada, Swampscott's chief of police, says that it’s important to communicate with children and their parents.

“Things like this have and do happen in the world, and it comes down to security, preparation, communication and letting our kids know the bad things can happen in our world, and what we can do to try to prevent it,” he said.

Police Chiefs Dennis King and Tom Griffin, from Marblehead and Peabody, pointed to several programs they use to prepare teachers and students: the ALICE training, which provides in-school or on-demand lessons on how to respond to shooters, and the STARS program under the Northeastern Massachusetts Law Enforcement Council. Under STARS, law enforcement share best practices along with procedures and counseling, such as reuniting parents and children after incidents like the Uvalde shooting.

“Preparedness for a community is to make sure that they're identifying the need to have active shooter preparedness training, like ALICE, which the Marblehead school system has adopted,” King said. “And then prevention, which is that people feel comfortable and identify indicators for people that are showing signs of this type of behavior to report it.”

In terms of federal policy, David Hemenway, the director of the Harvard Injury Control Research Center, said that the United States is an outlier in gun violence but that the country stays around the average for other forms of violence compared to similar high-income countries. And gun violence in the U.S. isn’t distributed equally: it’s far more common in states with weak gun laws.

“What we find is that, you know, the state bans don't work perfectly because guns can travel. But they work well enough so that in states like Massachusetts, where there are large-capacity magazine bans, we do much, much better on average [in] states like us than states like Texas and states where there's lots of guns and weak gun laws,” he said on Morning Edition Wednesday.

Hemenway pointed to the regulation of the auto industry as a potential model for better regulating guns. To make cars safer, regulators took the route of more licensing and registration, as well as giving manufacturers incentives to make their vehicles safer, he recalled.

“There was a fight to get seatbelts in cars. It was a fight to get airbags in cars,” Hemenway said. “And now, because we have good data systems and we're explaining to individuals, ‘Hey, these are safe cars, these aren't safe cars,’ the car manufacturers are competing in terms of safety. In terms of guns, gun manufacturers could do enormous numbers of things to reduce the problem.”

When it comes to efforts to limit who has access to guns, studies in recent years have found that as many as 84% or 97% of Americans support universal background checks. Such legislation would require all sellers to perform background checks before selling a gun to someone, closing what advocates call loopholes for private transactions made at gun shows or online.

“Republican politicians need to be put into a place of explaining why they think they are smarter than the super majority of Americans who disagree with them,” Auchincloss said.

“Nineteen children and two adults slaughtered by a gunman in a Texas elementary school. Ten people massacred in a Buffalo, N.Y., grocery store,” Suffolk County DA Kevin Hayden wrote in a statement Wednesday. “My heart is broken, and I weep and pray for the families and communities that have suffered these unimaginable tragedies. But prayers without action do not protect our children and our communities. Action must come from all of us—politicians, business leaders, civic organizations and individuals.”

Hayden is one in a chorus of public officials who issued similar refrains, expressing grief and horror in the wake of the Uvalde shooting in the media and on Twitter — and saying that expression without action wasn’t enough. Local officials’ reactions are gathered below.