Continuing the discussion from Gun magazine editor forced to resign after running pro-reform column:
I decided to start this new thread because I mostly agree with you, but it has drifted too far off topic in terms of shaming an editor into resigning and apologising.
Pistols are much like the shortswords among firearms: developed not for long-range or formation attacks, but for engaging in close quarters where the long barrel of a rifle becomes a liability. The famed M1911 was specifically developed for trench fighting, much like the Katzbalger swords were used in the 15th and 16th centuries, when armies no longer were in lines but in a free-for-all where there was no room to swing a longer sword, much less a polearm.
Pistols are also the choice weapon of law enforcement not because they are defensive, but because they are lighter and less cumbersome to carry on patrol. At the distance that a normal policeman expects to engage in a firefight, the accuracy of a pistol is more than adequate - again, the M1911 (it was the pistol I was assigned) can reliably hit a human-sized target at up to 50 metres, or about half of a football field.
A shield is a defensive weapon. It serves the main purpose of blocking attacks, but it can also be used in an offensive capacity. To a lesser degree, some of the older rapiers and long knives could also be considered defensive weapons, as they were designed for the ability to parry as well as protect the hand wielding it. A pistol offers none of this, and only defends through the speed in which it can reply to an attack with its own attack. It does nothing to stop a blow or a shot from landing.
Maybe some others can add to this discussion, but I am afraid I have said what needs to be said and left little room for new enlightenment.