In 1990, President George H.W. Bush committed one of the greatest betrayals in modern political history.
He backtracked on his “Read my lips, no new taxes” pledge, and he got hammered in the next election for his betrayal. He lost.
Rush Limbaugh has warned that Republicans are making the same “Read my lips” mistake by pursuing a gun control compromise with Democrats. (RELATED: The Trump Administration Is Becoming Strangely Anti-Gun)
He pointed out that Bush “never recovered from [his broken promise on taxes] and it’s probably one of the key reasons he did not get reelected in 1992. Same kind of potential pitfall is out there again awaiting Trump [on gun control].”
Now that President Trump and the congressional GOP leadership are beginning to talk favorably about gun control, it’s important to remember some important history.
Gun control has been a disastrous political loser every time it has been tried in our lifetime.
If you don’t believe us, consider just a few of the political careers that have been ruined because of support for gun control.
In 1994, Democrats lost Congress for the first time in a generation because of gun control.
Bill Clinton lamented several times that Democrats lost their majority in the Congress because several dozen Democrat legislators were defeated as a result of their support for the Brady bill and the so-called Assault Weapons ban.
At a White House press conference in 1999, Clinton bemoaned: “There are some [Democrats] who would be on this platform today who lost their seats in 1994 because they voted for the Brady Bill and they voted for the assault weapons ban.”
After the 2000 election, Democrats lamented that the push for post-Columbine gun control cost Al Gore the White House.
Several media outlets and high-ranking Gore campaign officials all agreed that candidate Gore’s support for gun control was the number one issue that threw the election to George W. Bush. The Baltimore Sun was one such outlet, regretfully reporting:
Had Al Gore carried Bill Clinton’s home state [Arkansas], his own home state [Tennessee] or what arguably has been the most reliable Democratic state in the country [West Virginia], he’d had been president. But Mr. Gore lost all three. Professionals in both parties think his position on gun control was the reason why.
In 2016, Hillary Clinton made gun control a chief centerpiece of her campaign — and lost because of key pro-gun, blue states.
Donald Trump won the states of Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin in 2016 by fewer than 80,000 votes. Which makes one wonder: Will pro-gun Democrats in rural areas return to their usual voting habits — voting for Democrats — if there’s little difference between candidates on gun control?
For the most part, Democrat politicians have been the recipients of pro-gun voters’ wrath. But if you think that support for gun control only stings anti-gun liberals, you would be mistaken.
Similarly, in 2016, Republican New Hampshire Sen. Kelly Ayotte lost by roughly a thousand votes. But it was her gun control betrayal that cost Ayotte greatly with key gun rights leaders and gun owners in the state.
As a result, she lost by 1,017 votes.
It only takes a small percentage of the base to stay home. Or to say, “I’m voting for a Third Party.” Either decision will have disastrous consequences for Republicans like Ayotte who support gun control.
So, will history now repeat itself? (RELATED: The Facts Are In, And Doctors Are More Likely To Kill You Than A Gun)
Two years ago, Trump promised gun owners that the “Assault on the Second Amendment has come to a crashing end.”
But now he has done an about face and could drag the GOP down to an electoral disaster if they pursue the course they are currently embarking upon.
If there is anything that the history of gun control teaches us, it is that politicians should not spit in the faces of 75,000,000 gun owners.
Republicans should take note: Don’t destroy your base at the behest of your opponents, expecting that your worst enemies will vote for you. It never works.
Erich Pratt is senior vice president and Michael Hammond is legislative counsel for Gun Owners of America, a gun rights organization representing more than two million gun owners.
The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of The Daily Caller.