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Myrick: Fearmongering Is Spiking Ratings and Spurring Gun Sales

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Sadly, far-right politicians and media figures have habitually stoked fear and manufactured moral panics as a political strategy to amp up their base. And it’s having an effect: For decades, Gallup polls have consistently found that Americans believe crime is going up, whether it is or not.

The cost of this paranoia-propaganda machine? Real human lives — and poor policy choices that continue to make America an unnecessarily dangerous place to live.

Fear boosts TV ratings for Fox News and clicks for right-wing websites. It elects “tough on crime” politicians, sells guns, and contributes to the proliferation of “stand your ground” and permissive concealed-carry laws. Violent media scares people into answering their doorbells with guns drawn.

None of these things enhances safety.

Contrary to what the gun lobby says, more guns do not keep people and communities safer. Nearly 30 studies rounded up by Scientific American have linked more guns to more crime — not less. Another recent study shows murder rates are much higherin “tough on crime” red states than “soft on crime” blue states. That’s been true every year since 2000.

Evidence keeps piling up that dire warnings and more guns don’t make Americans safer. What compounds the disaster is that this rhetoric continues to be weaponized against reforms that actually could save lives. …

The recent rash of shootings are horrific at an individual level. At the social level, a critical lesson here is that a climate of fear — and those who benefit politically or financially from it — gives us bad laws, bad politics, and bad behavior that endanger us all.

It’s time for that to stop. It’s time to turn away from the fearmongers and toward solutions that work.

—  Svante Myrick in Armed and Afraid: The High Price of Fear

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