In the 1980's when a Republican senator or congressman was confronted about voting for some gunowner control law, the reply was typically, "Yeah, I voted for it. So what? My opponent in this election would have voted for it and a whole lot worse. So if you don't want what the Democrats will vote for you'll shut your pie hole and pull the lever with an "R" beside it this November. Besides, the NRA was fine with it and I've got a good rating from them. Now go away."
With the 1990's came a change in attitude. In a surprise move, gunwoners got kinda tired of being told to sit down, shut up and vote for republican anti-gunners cause the democrat anti-gunners were worse anyway.
In 1992 George H.W. Bush lost to Bill Clinton. This was partly because of his "no new taxes" betrayal, but also in large part because he ordered the "assault weapons" import ban into existence through administrative action (urged along by that petulant slug Bill Bennet, lest we forget).
In 1996 Bob Dole lost to Bill Clinton. Dole allowed the Brady bill to go through. He voted for the Violent Crime and Law Enforcement Act which contained the 1994 federal "assault weapons" ban (although he voted against it in its final form). He then, less than four months before the election, changed his mind about making a repeal of the 'assault weapons" ban a primary focus of his presidency, and implied he'd veto a repeal if it his his desk.
In 2000 George W. Bush won against Al Gore. Bush (indeed his entire family from the looks of it) is not pro-gunowner. He supports a lot of gunowner control laws. But one gunowner control law is seen as a plus by a lot of gun owners, and that's Shall-Issue concealed carry permit laws. Bush signed such a bill into law in 1995, after having made such a law a campaign promise. This was seen as at least pragmatically pro-gunowner and helped Bush win the election. Gore was of course no pal of gun owners.
In 2004 George W. Bush won against John Kerry. This was because the 1994 Federal "assault weapons" ban expired on Bush's watch. Bush had mouthed support for renewing the ban, but a lot of gun owners gave him credit, some even saying he was a "stealth pro-gun" politician, having to publicly support renewal whilst working behind the scenes to make sure it expired.
In 2008 Barack Obama won against John McCain. McCain was good on "assault weapons" but he supported a bill that would have eradicated almost every gun show in the country (by making the sponsors of any show criminally liable for non-compliance of their employees).
In 2012 Barack Obama won against Mitt Romney. The GoP offered us a choice between someone who wanted to sign an "assault weapons" ban and someone who already had. The "already had" was their guy and unsurprisingly he lost.
Gunowner control has been viewed as a losing platform for democrat candidates. And rightly so. In fact, it cost the dems in Colorado control of the state senate in 2014. But currently the democrats are pushing a very anti-gunowner platform. This is due to two things, which are connected.
The first is that the progressives took effective control of the democrat party in 2008. They drove off all the blue dog dems and asserted control of the party apparatus.
The second is that a nasty little fascist from NYC (to narrow it down I'm referring to Bloomberg) started throwing money to anti-gunners. There's a theory going around that the gunowner control movement would be non-existent if it weren't for Bloomie the Hut's cash propping it up. I think that notion has merit.
However progressives have also taken control of the republican party. Not ideological progressives, but those that are culturally progressive. Usually they're simply labeled as "establishment" (or rino's) but from what I gather they're simply folks of the progressive culture that didn't go down the left wing path that others did.
(It really requires much more elaboration, which I'll hopefully get around to soon, but the progressive culture and the progressive ideology share the same two base tenants; a belief that society should be structured from the top down, and that the collective [or collectives] are the most important aspect of society. This is in marked contrast with the Scots-Irish culture, which is built on a bottom up structure with a focus on the individual.)
I don't think there's hope of the progressive dems seeing reason. But hopefully there's enough pressure within the GoP to remind the progressives currently running things there that without gunowner support they won't win much. Granted, I'm mainly referencing presidential elections over a relatively short period, but unless things change moreso than I think they have then the following holds true:
Republicans may lose with gunowner support, but they simply cannot win without it.
Make sure to remind whatever politician you favor of that.