I think a lot of what you describe here Boomer is that idiocy generated by Fox News and its cohorts, creating an atmosphere that ideologically motivated politicians can jump aboard.
Sadly when Reagan repealed the idea (and legislation) of fairness and balance in the media for his own selfish ends it opened the Pandoras box which we are experiencing today.
A media world of “alternative facts”, downright lies ( the stolen election is the most egregious example), simple messages like “guns beat crime”, “bigger guns beat bigger criminals” pounded every minute throughout the media and “entertainment” channels.
The coverage of many shooting incidents gives the impression that every household except a few hippies and religious fruitcakes owns a multiplicity of weapons. It has become the norm.
When I lived in the States over 10 years I met only two people who carried weapons (excluding cops and security). Christianity was axiomatic amongst my parents generation, rare in mine, although acceptance of the rituals was commonplace.
The only thing I can see has changed is the way that the theft of democracy and wealth has been carried out by stealth. The transfer of power that has accelerated in recent years from the elected to the corporate hives.
My friends remain the same, a bit more polarised perhaps but don’t watch Fox, so I suppose that proves my point in a way, none of them own guns either except the retired FBI agent (he arrested me way back in the day, but that is another story).