If a few of you would indulge me...
I am Canadian, and gun laws are very tight here in Ontario. My questions are honest, and probably quite naive.
Can you just walk into a gun shop and buy whatever handgun suits your fancy? For the most part, yes. There are certain firearms that are illegal such as fully automatic weapons (think the Uzi's you see in movies that spit a clip of bullets with a single trigger pull), also some weapons that have been modified from their original or intended manufacturing are illegal (sawed off shotguns). There are a lot of others, but I don't know them all. Pretty much any regular semi-automatic or revolver handgun is available, as are most types of rifles/shotguns and some types of assault rifles.
Do you need any kind of permit? To own a handgun, no. There is a whole list of things that you can't be if you want to own a gun. You can't be convicted of any crime classed above a Class B Misdemeanor, you can't be chemically dependent, you have to possess the ability to make rational judgment calls, can't be delinquent in child support payments, can't have a restraining order against you, etc. Pretty much anyone over the age of 21 that can pass the FBI background check can buy a handgun. To carry it though, you have to have a permit in Texas. There are some states that have open carry laws, where you can carry your gun concealed or not without having to have any kind of permit.
I have heard one cannot carry a 'concealed weapon'. What does that mean, exactly? If you are wearing a holster under your coat, is that not concealed? You can't exactly walk into Wilmar with a gun in your hand.. right??? It is only legal to carry concealed weapons if you have attended a class and received a "concealed carry license". I have one and can carry my loaded firearm pretty much anywhere I go. There are laws, of course, prohibiting anyone other than law enforcement carrying guns in banks, schools, hospitals, courthouses, and several other similar types of buildings. Also, it is unlawful to carry a concealed weapon into any business that has posted "no firearms permitted" signs. Also, it's illegal to have a concealed carry license and carry a gun that you intentionally fail to conceal (carrying it on your belt without a coat or shirt to cover it).
I appreciate your patience. I will just sit here drinking my brewsky and chewing on my backbacon like a good Canadian...
Keep in mind though that all my answers are based on Texas law. Each state will have their own laws and regulations regarding the buying, carrying, and licensing of handguns.
With that said, I carry a .40 Taurus 24/7 Pro-Carry
. It's a bit larger profiled than I really would like as a concealed weapon to carry around a city with me. I would want something slim and really compact for that, but being out in the boonies like I am, it works well. It has a weight and feel that fits me very well. I've always preferred a gun with a bit of heft to it, not something that weighs less than a cell phone.