Sure, but he was a disciple of Shakyamuni and did not wait to be reborn in a Pure Land post-mortem. He received teachings directly from the Buddha and did not put his faith in being reborn in somewhere else where conditions would be more pleasant (such as somewhere where people would not treat him as the murderer that he was).
The story of Angulimala was only for giving an example for the event of changing mind and its effects. As for faith in being born somewhere, well, that is another common thing, starting from birth in the upper levels of samsara up to the ways of going to different buddha-lands. I think you're well aware of sutras giving instructions on how to gain birth in the lands of Akshobhya and Bhaishajyaguru. It's just that Amita Buddha became the favourite among all the others.
If I'm not mistaken, the Pure Land is still samsara, no?
It is not, the Tiantai 10 realms is an explanation for it. But of course one could argue for saying that the world is always some buddha's land, and there are different views about buddha-lands.
I don't trust the scriptures enough to put my money so to speak on such a gamble. If I can't verify it or find it reasonable (for example I find Shakyamuni's teachings verifiable in many instances and reasonable, or for that matter Nagarjuna or Asanga), then I'm reluctant to pursue something purely on faith.
Well, to argue for Amita Buddha's vows and land without relying on scripture looks quite impossible, just like taking refuge in the Triple Gem without ever knowing about it. But if you consider that the teaching on the easy access to Sukhavati is known and accepted in every Mahayana regions and most of the schools it can be considered as orthodox as consciousness-only, except that unlike Yogacara the Pure Land teaching is still alive everywhere.
Tell that to Shinran who probably never heard of Christianity.
Was Shinran a criminal? Or his followers? He talked about realising that one is a prthagjana, a common person, nothing special. Yes, on one hand it is questionable to tell morally unstable people can gain a definitely high birth and be assured of enlightenment. But on the other side, from the point of saving sentient beings unlimitedly, the system of buddha-lands allows the possibility of Amita's land and vows, therefore it is natural to exist for everyone.
There are three trainings: ethics (in Chinese literally precepts), samadhi and wisdom. They form a tripod. There is no wisdom without samadhi and no samadhi without ethics/precepts. Anyone who tells you otherwise is suspect.
This is not questioned at all in the Pure Land teachings. And just like in the case of seeing how Zen is related to the Agamas, so one has to study the development of Pure Land thought from visualisation practices to recitation. Also note that it is on in Japan, because of Honen, that they stick to recitation. In other lineages there's no exclusiveness.
I still stand by my original assertion that our shitty Saha world here is the optimal place to attain enlightenment as the Vimalakirti-sutra outlines.
The Vimalakirti Sutra also says that monks with parajika offenses are OK to stay in the sangha, that doing meditation is not sitting at the root of a tree, that a buddha needs no food, etc. And I'm not questioning the Vimalakirti Sutra here, it has been quoted regularly by those who think there is only a mental buddha-land to be realised and no such thing as outer buddha-land, so it is actually a usual source of dispute.
On the other hand, the later Chan thinkers who spoke of cultivating the Pure Land within make some sense to me. I just don't like this idea of putting your liberation on the line and waiting until you drop dead in the hopes of having someone else save you from suffering.
No need to wait, Chan goes fine with Pure Land, so you can attain buddhahood even today, if you want, but the thing is, people usually don't just become buddhas immediately. So if you can't actually do Chan, why not go to the Pure Land to finish the path in an easier and safer way? The Pure Land school itself has many different practices one can use and attain different levels of samadhis, etc. But at the same time it is a path for those too who have trouble spending three months on a retreat, or avoiding breaking certain precepts.
"While teachers of the middle way, mind only, transcendent wisdom, mantra, and other schools may have their own assertions, the fulfillment of those intentions is the same. There is not a single thing that is not contained within mind."
(Gampopa to Düsum Khyenpa, in "The First Karmapa", KTD Pub, p254)
“If you recognize the world of appearance and existence as the mind, realize the mind itself as empty, and have no grasping at the superiority of your realizations — this is the ultimate view."
(Chegom Dzongpa, in "The Book of Kadam", Wisdom Pub, p609)