By Alan Gottlieb and Dave Workman

An intriguing phenomenon is at work right now in Canada and the United States, where political liberals are demonstrating a remarkable willingness to turn their backs on what once seemed an unshakable principle, simply in the interest of winning re-election and assuring their political survival.

It appears these politicians have suddenly realized what a pity it would be for them to have to find real jobs, so in Canada and here in the states, they’ve decided that it is the smart thing to be against gun control.

North of the border, Canadian Liberals, according to Reuters, are scrambling to avoid defeat in the June 28 election so Prime Minister Paul Martin is promising to modify that nation’s gun registration law. His Liberal colleagues have discovered, the news agency said, that gun registration is a “vote loser.” Martin told a Canadian newspaper he is willing to consider abolishing criminal penalties for citizens who refuse to register their firearms. How long that promise will hold water is anyone’s guess.

After all, if a Liberal is willing to turn his back on a principle, just how hard is it for a Liberal to break a promise?

In the United States, Democrats who might have otherwise voted for the so-called “assault weapons ban” renewal are singing a different song nowadays, because many are facing tough re-election battles. They know from experience dating back to the 1994 Congressional elections that supporting extremist gun laws can earn them early retirement. After the last Democrat-controlled Congress rammed through the ban, on certain semi-automatic firearms and greater than ten-round magazines, more than 50 Democrats lost their seats as gun owners trooped to the polls and angrily voted Republican, perhaps for the first time in their lives.

Not one pro-gun Democrat lost his or her seat in that 1994 sea change election. In 2000, Al Gore’s stance on gun control cost him the states of Tennessee, West Virginia and Arkansas. Democrats haven’t forgotten, so they have been working overtime to convince voters in districts with tight races that they are really pro-gun.

Democratic hopeful Sen. John Kerry took great pains to have himself photographed last fall on an Iowa pheasant hunt, though most in the gun rights movement laughed that off, accusing the liberal Massachusetts front runner of being the only man in America who uses hunter orange as camouflage.

While Kerry tries to “talk the talk,” insisting that he “supports the Second Amendment,” there’s always a qualified “but” at the end of his remark.

Kerry, like all liberals, has it wrong. One doesn’t “support” a Constitutional right, he both believes in it and lives it, or he doesn’t. And one does not teeter back and forth on that issue. You cannot, for example, think the First Amendment is great, but next week suggest that Rush Limbaugh’s microphone be yanked.

Canadian Liberals rammed through the gun registration scheme in the last decade, insisting that it would cost a mere $2 million to register all guns in that country, and therefore, help reduce crime. Here we are years later, the price tag has climbed to an estimated $1 billion and is still rising, not a single crime has been prevented or solved, residents in western provinces are balking, native populations are resisting, and the program is awash in scandal. The only reason Liberals have softened their position is because of the mounting Conservative tide threatening to take control of Parliament. Well, perhaps it’s time.

In this country, with the semi-auto ban ready to sunset Sept. 13, many Democrats are telling voters they won’t support renewal.

But the question remains: If these Democrats are so willing to turn their back on what has been a central plank in their party’s national platform for a generation, and if they are willing to ignore their own leaders—strictly for the sake of getting re-elected—are these people all that trustworthy? Can they be counted upon to retain this new-found devotion to gun rights, or will they wake up Nov. 3 and, finding themselves re-elected, decide to drop the pretense and support new gun control or gun ban measures?

Gun owners seem to grasp better than any other interest group that once a politician betrays his own principles, it’s easy to betray his constituents.