It has certainly worked in the past on Republicans such as Olympia Snow and Susan Collins.
I wouldn't overestimate the amount that Senators care about the opinions of people outside their states. Both Sen. Collins and Snow enjoyed massive bipartisan support in ME in no small part because of their ability to cross party lines. They both did a pretty good job of voting the way most of their constituents wanted them to, and neither of them ever had a serious opponent as a result. Out-of-state republicans might occasionally be upset by the way our Senators vote, but who cares? They can't vote here.
Making the party bosses or national media mad might cost you some money, but making you constituents mad often enough is what costs you elections.
And, hopefully, most senators/representatives will be aware of that. There are lots of rural democrats who's constituents will not vote for them if they are part of an new AWB. The party leadership be all for a ban, but they're not the people that decide who gets elected.
And there are still more rural/suburban districts in the US than urban. I know around here the republican/democrat split is primarily about environmental and labor issues, gun control issues rarely come up, and there are about as many democrats with the NRA endorsement as republicans.
So, I tend to agree with all of you. Right now there's a lot of hand wringing and chest beating, but when it comes down to a real vote on a real ban I just don't see anything happening.
Universal background checks on the other hand, and the increased mental health reporting are probably on the way.