Well, first of all, welcome to the forum. Hope you stick around; you're not the first to have found us through the Nightline report.
First of all, a gun is a defensive tool. Much like you might have pepperspray or a kubotan/yawara stick on a keychain, a gun on a hip is really no different in terms of when you would hope to use it, which is never. The differencehere is mostlyeffectiveness; some guys are immune to pepper spray, and you have to get close, too close, to an assailant to use a kubotan, but very few people are immune to bullets. However, like any "necessity", when you do from day to day not having to use it (thank God), you fall into the trap of thinking you do not need it.
Compare it to your car insurance. Most states require you have it, but if they didn't, and you drove for 10 years without an accident, itwould bevery easy to convince yourself that you are a safe driver that would never get in an accident, so you don't need insurance. That may be true, but the bozo in the next lane probably thought the same way before he cut you off and put you in the barrier. You may be a model citizen, but not everyone is, and without measures to protect yourself, here financially but also personally, you will eventually find yourself paying for the actions of others. So, to answer your third question, I'll put it back on you; would you feel safe driving your car without insurance?
It is for that reason that, in our opinion, we really need to have a gun at all times. Given that premise, the question of open carry versus concealed carry becomes more personal, when you have the option to do either. Open carry has a deterrant effect. If you plan on robing a convenience store, and you walk in to see a guy pre-paying for his gas with a sidearm on his hip, you are going to think twice. OC is also more comfortable in places that tend to be a bit warmer than Illinois, such as the Deep South and Southwest. However, yes, it can be alarming. Concealed carry avoids alarm, but it is less comfortable, requires digging into clothes to draw if necessary, and of the 48 states that allow it, only 2 do not require a permit to do so. In Texas, the application requirements and process are among the strictest of the so-called "shall-issue" states where if you meet the requirements there is no discretion on the part of the issuing agency as to whether to give you a permit. While I appreciate the screening, trainign and qualification process in place, as do LEOs, I feel that there is something fundamentally wrong with having to pay the State to do something that the Federal government has said for over 200 years that I need no permission to do.
I think you'll find if you browse these forums for a while, especially the "True Tales of Self Defense" forum, that you will find there is ample anectodal evidence to support the carry of a weapon, one way or the other. Stick around for a while, and I hope we can change your mind. Thanks for checking us out.