People make it sound like the idea of an armed public is new (and scary), but it has a long history. Add a Colt to Your Motoring Equipment.
And not just in the US. If you read Sherlock Holmes, you might notice that Dr. Watson is almost always in possession of a revolver.
Even in the late 18th and early 19th century we see handguns like the Durs Egg ladies flintlock and Allen and Thurber percussion cap “muff pistols,” designed to be carried in the cylinders of material that women used to keep their hands warm. In the mid-to-late-19th century, the Philadelphia Deringer was so widely copied that “derringer” became a popular (if misspelled) designation for many small, concealable pistols. In the early 20th century, Colt’s Patent Fire Arms manufactured two John Moses Browning designed pistols, the 1908 Pocket Hammerless in .380 ACP (often called the “Model M”) and the 1908 Vest Pocket in .25 ACP (the “Model N”). As the names suggest, both were both made to be carried concealed in jacket, pants, or vest pockets. And they were both popular in their time. According to Massad Ayoob’s Greatest Handguns of the World, Colt’s produced nearly a million of these two concealed carry pistols by the 1940s (p. 128).