Alright, I think we've gotten way off the original topic of this thread. The topic was "alternatives to packing. I am asked this question at work all the time. Usually by crime victims. Domestic violence victims and women in general that are in fear for their or their families safety want and need protection, even if for just peace of mind. I always suggest pepper spray or tasers for people who don't want or have the training for firearms. If a person wants a firearm for home protection, I recomend a shotgun. (something about the sound of an 870 racking <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif" alt="" />) But this is a backpacking forum. The same recomendation goes here. If you are comfortable and competant with a gun and want to pack the weight then that is your decision. If you are a gambler and like the odds (admittedly long) that you wont be a victim, then go for it. In Law enforcement, we have a use of force continuum. That is that you use the force necessary to acomplish your goal (ie;threat,arrest ect.) The continuum starts at uniform presence and goes up to strong voice commands,then firm grip or gesture,then on up through chemical weapons(pepper spray) to electronic weapons(taser) to impact weapons (baton) to finally deadly force,which can be guns,knives, vehicles or any other deadly weapon. The point is firearms are only a last resort. This doesn't mean that you can't or wont have to skip a step or two if the situation requires.
I carry a gun while packing or hiking because it is a tool that enhances my comfort level. I have used a handgun to start a fire one time when I lost my matches so It can be used for survival too. I also carry a heavier gas stove because that's what I prefer. What level of weight you carry or what you take is a personal choice that everyone of us makes. My wife carries a heavy slr camera because she is a photographer. If a person wants to hike into the wilderness with no tent and a beach towel then he made that choice and has to live with it. Some people carry cell phones,sat phones,gps, compasses,extra topo maps plb's ect. I don't but usually always have a firearm. My decision, my hike. Just pick the level of comfort you want and carry it.