Both of those stats-- the falling violent crime rate and the rising fear of same-- are driven by the same factor: the aging of the US population. Middle aged and elderly people commit fewer violent crimes, so as the proportion of older people grows, the crime rate drops. But older people are more fearful, especially of the unknown.
Combine that fear with being more frail, more forgetful, more socially isolated, and getting more information about the world from sensational media that focuses on the details of violent events.
And there you have a recipe for more older people agreeing with the gun lobbyists that having a loaded firearm (or three or ten) around would be a fine idea.
And we are talking about people with access to guns who no longer are able to drive a car (the two ton bullet-- remember Garry Shandling and the DMV? [Mr.]) safely. Many elderly people should not drive, but are reluctant to give up the keys. Imagine if the DMV did not require people to show up periodically and demonstrate that they are still capable of safely operating a motor vehicle. Is a gun easier to use correctly than a car? Evidently not, if the gun fails are any indication.
There was a study I heard about on NPR that discussed why older people are more prejudiced than younger people. It is not just conservative upbringing. We actually become
more prejudiced as we age! And it turns out to be fear of the unknown, and of not being known, ie of dying and disappearing.
Strangers, different races, ambiguous gender, foreigners speaking unfamiliar languages and so on represent the scary unknown. Even though it is far more statistically likely that if you get robbed or hurt, it will be by someone of your own race who you know at least slightly.
That is why Trump et al get traction with the "build a wall to keep out the Mexicans" and "don't let Muslims into the country" claptrap. Elect a guy who looks familiar, not like that scary Hussein Obama dude. What kind of a name is that, anyway? And get a gun-- that will protect you from that scary stranger of a different race from a foreign country who wants to do you harm.
No need for any training on how to use that gun, either. Never saw Max Max, Ahhnold or John Wayne taking any stinking gun safety course, didja? They were born experts, just because. Rambo didn't keep his guns in a locked safe away from the ammo, did he? He had to be ready for the commies at a moment's notice. Dirty Harry didn't second guess himself-- when he saw a bad guy coming at him in the dark, he just blew him away. And it never turned out to be his 14 year old daughter sneaking in from seeing her boyfriend...
The folks who advise the conservative repubs, the tea partiers, the NRA and the other pro-gun groups know exactly what they are doing by targeting fear.
I call them sell-out social theorists, people who use the results of psychology, sociology and neuroscience to manipulate people for their own ends.