With regards to the legalities of firearms ownership/carry, Packing.org
has pretty good information on state firearms laws.
With regards to revolvers versus autoloaders, I'll just reiterate the point that, while an autoloader can
fail more easily than a revolver, it can also be repaired in the field more easily. As has been said, a failed revolver is just plain dead. Throw it at your attacker and hope for a nasty bruise.
Well-maintianed, neither will fail on you. And, if you're really worried, carry two. Or three, if you like. Personally, I can probably mess up someone's compass readings at twenty paces...
Rights atrophy if not used, just like muscles. If someone comes at me with the "guns kill people" line, I don't go on the defensive. I just say, "yeah, what's your point? as long as my
guns only kill bad
people, what's it to you?" There's the apologetic "guns are only tools, not weapons" line that some people will take, and that's certainly true of some guns (Olympic target rifles, for example), but I don't carry
guns because I might stumble across a range and want to punch some paper. I carry guns because I might have to fire one to defend my life, or the life of another.
My guns are weapons. I have never drawn one on someone who wasn't an imminent threat to my life. I have never even been tempted to do so. And, when someone was
an imminent threat, I didn't hesitate. And, if you are going to carry a firearm for self-defense, you need to be able to do that. If you hesitate, the bad guy will have you, and he'll get your gun(s) as a bonus. The psychology of self-defense is far more important than the weapon. A .22, actually fired into an attacker, is imminently more effective than a .357Mag sitting inertly in a holster. All the training time in the world is wasted if the only thing you train on is how to hit paper targets at 10 yards from a rest. You need to train in drawing the gun, bringing it up on target, and firing without a slip-up. Being able to nail the X isn't as important as getting a round into someone's center of mass, and quickly. Call it a 6" circle. Anything within that is fine.
But, above all, you have to be able to do it. Think about it long and hard. Not just logically and philosophically. Sure, we all agree that self-defense is a human right. Certainly, most here can quote the zero-aggression principle from memory. But can you, emotionally, look into an attacker's eyes from three or four feet away, draw a hangun, bring it to bear on him and (if he doesn't instantly freeze and then slowly back down) shoot him dead? Sure, your goal is to stop him, not particularly to kill him, but if you've trained well and are using decent ammunition, those two are likely to be one and the same. Do you believe in your heart that you can do it? Only you can answer that question.
Hopefully, you'll always be thinking on it, and never have to learn for certain.