My observations of people with laser sights have shown that they work well for people who already shoot well. The dot from a properly sighted laser gives the shooter confirmation that the muzzle is on target.
If you're off target, depending on surroundings, you may not see that dot at all. Then you won't know how to adjust.
You said the P238 is on the no-no list for Cali? That's too bad, because they're sweet guns. They do have a manual safety, though, and as I recall, you wanted simple.
The area of guns you describe is huge, and I'm sure it's the fastest-growing part of the gun market today. There are new models of pocket carry guns out all the time. And I'm sure there will be a couple announced any time now, since the SHOT show is gearing up this week.
First, move out of California . If that won't do, check the legal list. Do your research on their reliability. You've already started that here, and a number of excellent guns have been mentioned. Go find a place that rents them if you can. If you can't, at least find a place that sells them so you can see how they fit your hand, how you like the sights, how much they weigh, etc.
Then pick one.
Then shoot the snot out of it and post a range report here so we can all congratulate you!
"An armed society is a polite society." Robert A. Heinlein
"After a shooting spree, they always want to take the guns away from the people who didn't do it. I sure as hell wouldn't want to live in a society where the only people allowed guns are the police and the military."
William S. Burroughs