John, I am a long-time NRA member and avid varmint hunter and precision rifle fan. My advice to you is that if you must first ask yourself if you are psychologically prepared to defend your life with a gun and if you are willing to do the research to find out if you want to take the risk of possible legal action against you if you kill someone, even though he/she is/was in the act of wanting to take your life.
There are many so-called "red-necks" or "gun nuts" who love the macho aspect of owning a huge pistol or other fancy weapon, and brag about their prowess with a gun, including their justifying their gun ownership by touting it as necessary to save their lives; however, they are in a very large group who don't know the downside of successfully saving ones own life by using a gun.
We have veterans who have been faced with lifelong guilt for killing soldiers from an opposing force, and a similar fate could well await a gun owner. Unless you are the type of person who has some sort of mental shell to withstand the possibility of such guilt, don't buy a weapon for self-defense. If you do happen to decide to purchase a firearm, by all means sign up for one of the many self-defense classes so that you can know when and when not to use a weapon, self-defense alternatives, legal aspects that could befall you if you took someone else's life, and so forth. Join the NRA. They can also be a great help.
As for the pickup truck rednecks, some are good people and some are immature idiots. Personally, I hunt alone and have only a handful of friends with whom I would trust to know how to handle a weapon. I have a small but good selection of hunting rifles, plus a few pistols. I hardly ever use the pistols because I just am not interested in pistolry. Rifles are a different story. One more thing: if you decide to purchase a weapon, don't go crazy and buy a weapon that would shoot through a perpetrator, through the walls in your house, then through the neighbor's wall. Not a good idea!. I prefer a .45 ACP with hollow points or a shotgun. Nothing wrong with a revolver, either, as long as the caliber is meant for home defense.
Learn about all this stuff before you even jump in and make a weapon purchase.