An attempt to clarify
Clyde, sorry if my OP was somewhat convoluted. See if this summary helps:
I really want to buy another gun. There are a ton of good ones but each individual has different experiences/requirements, so opinions will vary. My goal is when I to go to my LGS or see a deal online, to be able to quickly eliminate those guns that are bad options and focus on the type of gun I should be getting. I am so new to guns, it is easy for me to fixate on a familiar brand name or type and dismiss a brand/type simply because I am unfamiliar with it.
A good example is my first trip to the LGS. I shot the XD9 in my NRA Basic class and liked it. The LGS happened to have the gun so I was ready to buy given how hard it is to get guns. A guy behind me in line recommended the CZ-75 but I had never heard of it. The LGS actually had the 75B in stock and I felt it in my hand. It was very nice but I knew nothing about what I should be looking for and still wonder if that may have been a better option.
So my goal is to better formulate my needs and then be open to any gun that fills those needs - without any bias toward a particular gun name/type. I thought it would be easier to know exactly what NOT to buy.
I hope that helps!