I've owned a few guns over the years and shot more than a couple of others. Besides the AR above, my main gun now is a Glock 19. I do have my CCW (CHL here in Oregon). Oregon is open carry but at least 2 cities here - Portland & Beaverton are not.
Are you familair with Packing.org? They have tons of info on CCW & gun laws in general, plus forums, links to defensive trainers & a lot more. Interestingly, some California counties are essentially shall issue for CCW - check out Packing for more info.
I dont know how familar you are with California's maze of firearms laws but one thing to be aware of is that most AK variants are banned there so if you want to get one you'll either have to get a version that is Cali. legal or keep it outside of the state.
Personally, I prefer a rifle to a shotgun (or a handgun for that matter) for protection/defense.
Packing.org is a great site. There are some county's that will issue permits but it's not as easy as it sounds. You have to establish residency and if you don't know someone, that can be hard. My gun grabbing grandparents have a home in Mendocino county and according to Packing.org, the Mendocino county sheriff hands them out like candy. The problem I have is my grandparents won't go for that. I'll have to wait until they leave their beach house to the family and then I'll apply.
About the AK that I might get, I doubt it will be legal and I doubt it will be kept out of state. I pretty much don't give a shit about gun laws.
The only problem I have with rifles being used for self defence is the fact that after they hit the bad guy they can continue to travel through walls. So, if you have neighbors or other people in the home, you run the risk of killing someone else besides the bad guy.