With Bush's landslide victory in 1988 -- and with the well-meaning Dukakis dismissed as a hopeless "loser" -- the path was cleared for the NRA to roll back even modest gun-control laws, such as restrictions on assault rifles.
In 2010 on a 5-4 vote, right-wing justices on the U.S. Supreme Court -- placed there by Reagan, Bush-41 and George W. Bush -- overturned longstanding legal precedents that deemed "the right to bear arms" a collective right and transformed it instead into an individual right. That meant even local gun-control ordinances could be struck down.
In other words, Republicans -- and particularly Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush -- hold primary responsibility for the kinds of horrors that have claimed innocent lives in places like Newtown, Aurora, Tucson, Columbine, Virginia Tech and so many other locations whose names will long be associated with butchery.
While Kristof and fellow mainstream pundits may be right in noting that it's time for all politicians to stand up to the NRA, they are wrong in spreading the blame equally. They should have the courage to tell the truth, that Reagan, Bush-41 and other Republicans have led the way into this national madness.