The only reason for any civilian to carry a handgun in my opinion is that they are genuinely in fear for their life and can articulate that fear in terms of actual threats or violence.
That is the standard used in Maryland; unfortunately the police refuse to believe 99% of people meet it, even if they are crime victims. They require things like documentation of the threat. How does that work? "Oh Hi Mr. Criminal, would you mind threatening me in writing and going down to the store and notarizing it?"
By the time you realize you need a gun; it's too late.
I am going to say it again, I think your views on the subject are a little misguided. The media likes to sensationalize gun violence. How often do you see stories of guns used in self defense? Rarely, the media does not like to carry them, but they will plaster front page shootings? I get to hear the stories from people about how guns saved their lives.
If you really examine the facts, and cease to rely on emotion, the answer becomes clear. Guns are not the problem. Notice that the Brady Campaign doesn't use facts all that much; and when they do, they often cite their own facts.
It should be a priviledge and not a right.
So by that logic, freedom of speech is not a right, it is a privilege? The right to a speedy jury is a privilege? Sorry my friend, the Bill of Rights is very clear about that one. The right to keep and bear arms was put in the constitution because the founders understood one thing very plainly. "Man has only those rights he can defend." They knew that without firearms, all the rights they protected (the Bill of Rights does not grant rights, it merely protects them) were worth nothing more than the paper they were written on. The Right to bear arms is the teeth of the Constitution. Any other view; merely makes us sheep, our rights existing only at the wim of the government, but not just that. If the average police time is 20 minutes, and the police have no legal responsibility to protect us, how can I defend my right most basic, to life?
Never mind the money angle that somebody brought up, if you smoke someone, you might as well marry them because you from that point on are going to have to live with that person longer than most marriages last. If you are not charged criminally, with the possibility of having to be subjected to a minimum mandatory long sentence in a state's prison, I can almost guarantee you that you are going to be sued by the victim's family.
Actually, outside of the crime ridden gun control powerhouses, most states have laws that say if you are attacked, you cannot be prosecuted for the crime; both civilly and criminally. These laws are called Castle Laws. Pennsylvania is the most recent state to enact one. When you hear about people being tried, it is often because they did something dumb to deserve it, like the guy in the mid-west who shot the robber (legal) then went and got a new gun (not legal). I don't know what state you live in so I couldn't tell you if you have one but most states allow it.
Lastly I am sorry about your friend. It is a risk everyone takes who puts on a uniform and carries; but it is a risk I'd much rather take than end up in a situation where I need it, but don't have it. Because when seconds count, the police are minutes away.