WOW, alot to digest......sounds like you're starting in the right direction..............to make it short, I would try to find someone in your area that is very knowledgeable in firearms and safety, and get some ideas from that person.....finding a firearm is so much personal choice, that no one can tell you what you should purchase. The states you mentioned are a PITA, there may be a few more that have regulations on types of firearms, NY for instance. Some also have regulations on magazines ie. high capacity. I may get some argument, but I think that a 9mm would be a good choice to start. NO, you cannot just put a firearm and ammo in a bag and tell the airlines that it's there. Check airlines rules and regulations for transporting firearms. Look at accuracy before caliber. A .22 cal. although small, in the hands of a competant shooter, is very deadly. I wouldn't carry one, but that's me. If you do a bit of searching, you can look up states lists of acceptable firearms for that state. I would think that most on this forum own more than one firearm, but not because of state laws. Good luck.