During his panel discussion Friday night, Maher listed several issues on which Democrats' stands poll better than Republicans,' such as the environment, education and health care. But he noted that Republicans hold a narrow lead over Democrats on gun policy.
Maher then mentioned President Trump's recent sit-down with British TV personality Pierce Morgan, where the president mentioned that some people own guns for recreational use.
"I don't like guns. Have some, don't like them, have it for [an] emergency, like an antibiotic," Maher told the panel, "but some people do. Lots of people do and their view is, 'Yes there is a violence problem with guns, but not me. And you're going after me.'"
Maher added he had doubts whether solutions proposed by Democrats "would solve the gun problem," and that "to die on this hill and lose an election" was a real possibility because "we've lost elections before on this issue, which is not a winning issue for Democrats."
"What is the option though, not to make it a central part of the campaign?," New York Times columnist Charles Blow asked.
"No," Maher responded. "First of all, liberals should learn more about guns. I don't know much about guns because, again, I don't care, I don't like them, but I hear this from gun people."
The HBO star then mentioned a CNN interview in which 2020 presidential candidate Sen. Cory Booker, D-NJ, was pressed how his gun control plan would have prevented the recent mass shooting in Virginia Beach.
"Cory Booker took a very long time to be able to answer that question," Maher said as he shook his head.
Blow dismissed Maher's criticism, saying the "framing of the question is wrong" and pointed to the 30,000 deaths per year that involve guns that needs preventing.
"You're seriously saying that he shouldn't be able to answer the question as a politician, 'How will your plan specifically stop this problem?'" Maher reacted. "If you did everything that the Democrats wanted... I still think you would have this problem because it's much more complicated than just the mass killers or the type of gun. You're going to be disappointed if you think just doing what they want gun-wise is gonna solve it."
Rep. Katie Porter, D-Calif, pushed back, saying Democrats' gun control efforts were intended to "reduce preventable gun deaths."
"I'm just saying I want to win this election and I want to fight it on the issues we're going to win on," Maher added.