Regarding the use of weapons and firearms in survivalism there have been two different postures pretty well described by a TV dichotomy of the eighties: Rambo or Mc Gyver? But without falling in any of those extremes, it is reasonable to think that weapons and guns do have a place in any survival kit.
You may or may not use a pistol, revolver, shotgun, rifle, carbine, crossbow or knife, but in most cases that would be due to legal barriers, fear or intellectual conceptions about weaponry and arsenals. However, before dismissing weapons altogether from any sort of collection of survival tools we should ask ourselves a couple of things:
Could a weapons save our lives? If it is by hunting and gathering food, or to survive an attack in self defence, indeed, any sort of weapon would be good.
Would the odds turn against ourselves if we don't carry a weapon in difficult or dangerous circumstances. Considering the prior question, indeed, that would be the case unless we develop skills of extraordinary quality that would enable us to defend ourselves, hunt, etc. without arms of any sort, such as expertise in martial arts.
Would we risk dying just because we don't like bow hunting, carrying a handgun or something like that? I don't know if that is your case, but at least in mine, I think that surviving comes first, and moral considerations second unless you are keen on martyrdom, which may be a legitimate choice for whatever reasons but then, if you think like that you shouldn't waste any more time learning survival techniques. So, while we shouldn't be playing cowboy with a chromed revolver all the time, we should say that being pacifists all the time just doesn't work: Warsaw revolted against the German occupation force. Protest marches wouldn't have had even the impact of the uprising and instead, the SS would have had happily cut down the Poles with their machine guns. By choosing to fight, at least the people of the Polish capital made a contribution to the allied war effort and their deaths were not in vain.
This skier is carrying a full scale assault weapon, but concealed; survival weapons are not for boasting.
Having said all this, I would like to warn the reader about another misconception related to the relationship between weaponry and survival: Weapons, including firearms, are survival tools and nothing more. They can be part of your survival kit but not the main reason for it. You shouldn't try to delude yourself by using the concept of survival to justify a lust for gunnery. If you like guns, that's your choice, but it would be wrong to assume that survival may justify just about anything because in such a fashion is how paramilitary groups grow and also, hatred is brewed. It shouldn't be so but reality tells us that is just what happens. This has to do with legal and political issues and the nature of most paramilitary groups that have ideological outlooks, which, by definition, tend to be violent. Survival weapons are for survival, and not vehicles to solve political or racial disputes, and there are other issues to consider as well, such as the respect for life, the environment and one's own safety.
Sometimes, survival requires hunting, but using that reason to justify taking pleasure in killing animals for sport is morally very questionable. There is a lot of distance between hunting for food and hunting for trophies.
Even this could be considered as a survival weapon under certain circumstances.
And as I said, there is also the safety issue to consider: Using any sort of weapon proficiently requires skill and training. Whenever any new recruit is taken into any sort of army, some things are instilled before anything lese, such as cleanliness, discipline and good marksmanship. A member of an elite unit is always more proficient with a weapon such as - say - an M16 or FAL than a new, untested soldier that uses the same sort of weapons. The difference, translated into combat effectiveness, lower ammunition costs and higher survivability lies obviously in the degree of training that each one enjoys. In other words, just having a weapon will not guarantee your survival in any scenario, and the more power and sophistication you have in your hands, the worse it could be for you if you just don't know how to handle the thing. Imagine what would happen if your aunt or neighbour's daughter would put your lovely and costly Minimi machine gun into full auto and pull the trigger by accident.
And here you have some tips to consider regarding your weapons:
Concealing your weapon is a must in case that your survival scenarios include the possibility of fighting other people in self defence; in this way you will keep the advantage of surprise.
Your whole survival arsenal should be inspected and cleaned every single day of your adventure or emergency situation. You must be able to trust your gear under any circumstances.
Keep cool before deciding to use your survival weapon; doing so in a rush of nervousness will probably end in regrettable consequences. Don't aim at things that you don't want to destroy, and when you shoot, do so to kill and nothing else. If you don't want to kill your target, then, don't even take your weapon out of its holster or sheath.
Don't overestimate the capabilities of your survival weapons; the best item of your survival kit is your mind.
Don't purchase survival weaponry that you ignore how to use. Emergency situations are not the best places or moments where to learn how to handle your gear.
Don't assume that because somebody else uses a survival weapon effectively, you will achieve the same, immediate results without training. Australian aborigines use boomerangs with great effectiveness, but after giving a try for the first time you will see that handling that simple thing requires a lot of practice.
Keep your weapons always in safe places, but within your immediate reach.
Don't kill needlessly; our distant ancestors were all hunters and gatherers, and they knew that killing for fun was a waste of natural resources. Nowadays we understand philosophically a little more about the value of life and there is always the environmental impact of wholesale slaughter to consider.
Don't celebrate butchery with trophies. Imagine what your family would feel if an alien from another world would hang from something like a wall in his home the embalmed head of your own father.
Save your ammo; in the realm of survivalism saving and sparing things is essential.
Don't use your weapon if there is any risk of hitting anything other than your primary target.
Respecting the law is what every responsible citizen should do, but it is worthless to do so if as a result of that you will end up dead.
If you carry a gun and at the same time express racist thoughts then you don't own that gun for survival purposes but for racial supremacy issues. You may end up in trouble sooner than you think, so if such is a case, leave your arms at home.
Weapons are neither evil nor good, nor toys; weapons are dangerous tools that need to be treated and handled with extreme caution.
Always assume that your weapon is alive and loaded, sharpened or ready to kill. Don't play with it.
Practice the required maintenance, disassembly and assembly procedures of your weapon until you become able to do so with your eyes closed.
Never lend your survival weapon to anybody else.
If you are upset or angry, don't even touch your survival weapon. Leave where it is and take it easy first.
Once you are being shot upon, shoot back; once such an instance has been reached, assume that your adversary has become an enemy with deadly intentions, and don't think that any sort of compromise or negotiation would be possible. Eliminate the threat or pull back under your own firepower cover, but don't just stand there trying to figure out why that person is trying to harm you.
If you have to kill, don't cause unwarranted suffering. If you cause it, then you shouldn't be using a weapon.
Don't use weapons or guns that could cause long-term effects once the emergency finishes, like poisoned arrows or hollow point bullets filled with mercury or other heavy metals. Remember that survival weapons exist to help you survive, and not to cause unnecessary harm outside the context of your survival situation.
Treat your survival weapon like a state secret. Don't use it more than strictly necessary and don't employ it as your primary weapon if at all possible. Practise with it as required to achieve dexterity in its handling, but replace it with other, similar weapons if you will, for other uses in order to keep it with the lowest - or optimal - level of usage to avoid the break up of components due to structural fatigue.
Don't play hero by meddling with your weapons in situations that don't warrant the argument of self defence actions. Call the police if necessary.
Every time you start thinking about using your weapon, think also at least in one motive not to use it.
You will get to know your survival weapon as much as you are acquainted with your true self. The best warriors are always very spiritual people.
If everybody else is telling you to be more cautious with your weapons, you probably should.
Never point your weapon at yourself.
If someone actually sees where you conceal your survival weapon, change the place, without exceptions.
Survival weapons should be simple and durable, without fancy decorations or accessories; it should be easy to repair in the field and spares, including ammunition, should be common and widely available.
A survival weapon should be comfortable and lightweight so that whenever you carry it, it will not make you feel like throwing it away. If it feel uncomfortable and you take the habit of taking your holster off, then the main purpose of having a survival weapon will be lost altogether.
Never assume that you know more than your opponent.
Never assume that you are not going to survive. Get accustomed to fighting for a victory every time.
Make sure to positively check the applicable legislation concerning the type of survival weapon you have in your jurisdiction and any other you may plan to visit. At least you should keep in mind what kind of sanctions or dangers you will be facing; remember that even if you can't carry any sort of conventional weapon you still have your body and could transform it into a potent defensive system by learning martial arts if there is no other choice. What kind of weapon you use is a secondary matter: The big issue is not to be left without any, for in such a case you will be at the mercy of others. That is the same as resigning yourself to become either a refugee or a victim.
And lastly but not leastly, remember that survival weapons are always contextual.
Without training, survival weapons are useless.