I do think that Pit Bulls do have a bit of inclination to violence bred into them. However, I do believe with responsible rearing, the Pit Bull can be an amazing family dog. If you raise it like you would raise a Labrador, ie, cuddle it, play with it, socialize it with other dogs and children, it will act like a Labrador. But if you raise it like a junkyard attack dog, ie, chain it up in your backyard 24/7, roughhouse with it excessively, and teach it that other people are the enemy, then there is a good chance the dog is going to grow up to be a monster. My fiance's sister recently moved in and brought with her a Pit Bull/Labrador mix. The dog is 60 pounds with a head the size of a soccer ball :). I was a bit turned off when I heard the dog was moving in. I can tell you I am glad it did. This dog is one of the smartest, gentlest, and obedient dogs I have ever met. It puts up with my fiances 4lb min pin/chihauha mix biting and climbing all over it, it doesn't jet when you open the front door like my silly Lab Champ has a penchant to do, and it is fanatically loyal to all those in the house. The only thing I would worry about is if someone found a way into our house uninvited. I think I would be spending a lot of money getting the blood out of the carpets ;).
It's also nice to hear the thread starters trust in 20g as a viable self defense weapon. I would not want to be in the way of my pistol gripped Mossberg 500 when the #2 buck starts coming out that barrel.