Agreed, this should probably be in Chaff. I don't think many people here backpack everyday...
That being said, I can't resist beating this horse, it's just so dead. How can I not? haha.
For the sake of argument, I'm going to assume you don't know this, but most states require applicants to complete and pass training before obtaining their carry permit. Also, to contrast police officers and armed citizens, most citizens carry because they choose to and are therefore more likely to seek out additional training, and at the least spend more time at the range. On the other hand, carrying a firearm is a job requirement for the police and a lot of them do only the minimum required for training and recertification. Heck, there is even a picture floating around of an officer using her AR-15 without a magazine... So, I don't think that police officer accuracy necessarily directly correlates to civilian accuracy, when you consider the above.
Also, the "higher qualification" that police obtain, has a lot to do with legal issues, and things related to actively pursuing and subduing a suspect. They receive more training, because there is more involved in what they do. As far as the actual firearm training, there isn't much different from what carry applicants receive. A citizen isn't expected, and shouldn't pursue a criminal. There isn't much you need to teach other than how to operate a firearm, how to shoot it accurately, how to assess the situation, target, and background, and what legal repercussions are involved.
Regarding your fear for innocent bystanders, consider this. Since shall issue permits started to become state law starting in 1986 with florida, and today, all 50 states having some way of obtaining a permit, when was the last time you heard a news story involving innocent bystanders being hit by stray bullets from an armed citizen?
You may also be interested in the Clackamas mall shooting, where the gunman was stopped by an armed citizen, that didn't even fire a shot. He saw someone running into the line of fire behind the gunman and held his fire. But at seeing armed resistance, the shooter turned his gun on himself. So, training works, even if it isn't as "high of a qualification" as police...
You might call Mr. Meli "paranoid", but I would call him "alive", and a "hero."
I will also agree with you that you are more likely to get into a car accident, but does likeliness of something happen negate the need to take measures to protect yourself from it? There are many accounts of guns saving peoples lives. Would you call all of them paranoid? I'd rather be paranoid and alive, then confident and dead, or a rape victim.
And yes, the need to baton a tree in downtown is a highly improbable situation. Heck, it's improbable in the woods even! haha.
OK, i've said my piece, I'll shut up now. Jake, if you want to continue the firearm dialogue, let's do it with PMs. I think we hijacked this thread enough as it is, lol.