Is a firearm a weapon? no.....


March 31, 2003, 02:20 PM
A firearm is an inanimate object, unless you are an anti gun person. It will not jump of the table and kill anything in sight by itself. If an object is a weapon it is because it is USED as such, not for what it is. I get all kinds of looks, especially from ex GI types, when they call my latest a "fine looking weapon" and I reply that it is not a weapon. They don't understand and no amount of explaining will change that. None of my firearms are weapons and I hope none of them will ever be used as such. It is the misuse of this terminology that feeds the anti's agenda....chris3

If you enjoyed reading about "Is a firearm a weapon? no....." here in archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join today for the full version!
March 31, 2003, 03:26 PM
Can't imagine some one looking at my car and saying "Man, that is one dirty looking weapon!".

March 31, 2003, 03:32 PM
I can certainly and clearly see an argument for it being a weapon. Just like a sword is a weapon. My argument is not about a definition of tool vs weapon, it is about application of said tool/weapon.

March 31, 2003, 03:41 PM
A weapon does not imply intent. A weapon is something designed to destroy or damage a person or animal. I think there is more of a stigma attached to the word weapon than there should be. A weapon isn't something used by a crazed madman to kill indiscriminately. It may be used as such, but it is designed to cause damage to or to kill something else. A car is not designed to inflict damags - even though I do find those Geo Storm stationwagons offesnive to my eyes. :p

There's a similar thread going on in the Non-Firearm Weapon forum. If I am carrying a P32 in my pocket, it is a weapon in every single sense of the word. It was designed with the intention of being brandished and /or shooting something, more than likely a person, should they attempt to cause me harm. That's the definition of a weapon.

March 31, 2003, 04:22 PM
All my firearms are weapons!:evil:

Dave R
March 31, 2003, 04:30 PM
I do not buy into this whole liberal argument that "guns were only meant to kill".

A full-race handgun was made for IPSC. A fine O/U was probably made for sporting clays. A tricked out AR was probably made for long-range competition.

Given the relatively small number of gun owners who hunt, and the small percentage of gun designs that are suitable for personal protection, I'd say the empirical evidence is that the vast majority of guns were made for shooting sports and recreation.

El Tejon
March 31, 2003, 04:52 PM
Read the Founding Fathers, there is a reason that firearms are weapons.

March 31, 2003, 06:18 PM
Not to be argumentative DaveR, but I will be anyway. :p

It's dismissive to consider the calling of a gun, 'a weapon' a liberal concept. Maybe an intellectual concept, might even go for a well-read concept or educated concept, but not a liberal concept.

I'm a strong supporter to RKBA and recruit new shooters all the time. And it's been a long time since anyone's called me a liberal. Maybe a libritarian on some issues, but not a liberal. The definition of a gun is:

Main Entry: 1weap·on
Pronunciation: 'we-p&n
Function: noun
Etymology: Middle English wepen, from Old English w[AE]pen; akin to Old High German wAffan weapon, Old Norse vApn
Date: before 12th century
1 : something (as a club, knife, or gun) used to injure, defeat, or destroy
2 : a means of contending against another

So, by that semi-official definition, if a gun is intended to injure, defeat or destroy something - which most of our collective guns were designed to do - then they are, in fact weapons.

I think intended use is more important in conjuring a definition than actual use. Is a missle a decorative jet decoration until it is launched or is it a weapon due to the fact that it is designed to injure people and/or destroy buildings? You chose perhaps the only three exceptions to that definition. You could even add in a working firearm mounted on a plaque as a gift as another exception. Those four exceptions, added together, probably count for significantly less than 1% of all the firearms in the world.

March 31, 2003, 06:35 PM
I disagree that all firearms are by default weapons.

Any object used to assault a living being is rightly considered a weapon.

Most of my firearms will never be used in such a fashion. When one is picked up with that express purpose, then it becomes a weapon. Just as a hammer would under similar circumstances.

Until that time, it is a tool. I really don't care how Webster defines it.

March 31, 2003, 06:41 PM
For a colorful response, ask a drill instructor whether it is a weapon...:D

March 31, 2003, 07:57 PM
For a colorful response, ask a drill instructor whether it is a weapon...

Yeah... though I've made my outlook clear on this thread, military instructors have a much more verbose and flamboyant stance. :D

March 31, 2003, 11:15 PM
I think that some guns are definitely NOT weapons.

For example: Some of the unlimited class bench-rest guns aren't even portable. They can weigh over a hundred pounds and may be permanently attached to a mounting base.

March 31, 2003, 11:58 PM
I'll take the martial artist's perspective on this one.

A weapon is defined as a force multiplier, or something that is used to transfer the user's kinetic energy to the target while vastly increasing it's force.

A firearm is a mechanical device which of it's sole purpose is to multiply force onto the target.

By itself a firearm is a tool, I agree with this definition. But a firearm is also by definition a weapon. No firearm can be one without the other, this is a simple rule of physics. Deadly force is deadly force, whether or not it is direct at a human being. It is the intent that defines it's ultimate function.

April 1, 2003, 12:12 AM
NRA Instructors would never call it a weapon.

It is always a gun or a firearm.

The word "Weapon" has too many negative connotations.

That is all I have to say on the matter.

NRA Pistol, Personal Protection Instructor

April 1, 2003, 12:13 AM
You're right, ball3006....

Ever heard of Don Quixote? :neener:

April 1, 2003, 12:22 AM
NRA Instructors would never call it a weapon.

Agreed. The language by which we refer to firearms is important to establish mindset. A weapon is anything used with the intent to inflict damage. A firearm is simply the machine itself. Neutral.

A firearm is a firearm, until it's used as a weapon, just like a baseball bat is a baseball bat, but it becomes a weapon if used as such. A knife is a knife, until it's used against someone, then it's a weapon.

The word weapon has too many negative connotations for me to be comfortable saying it routinely, especially with new shooters.

Military personnel are accustomed to calling their firearms "weapons" and understandably so... they are in combat situations where they are absolutely used as weapons.

Mine is predominantly used as a sporting tool, but God forbid I'd ever need to defend myself, it would rather quickly become a weapon.

Semanics? Yes. But I think it's important to choose words carefully.

NRA Certified Instructor

April 1, 2003, 12:31 AM
I have a bit of a controversial view on this subject, but my guns are TOYS!

Thats right :eel: I said toys (albeit toys with very very strict safety rules).

Now I know we've been told all our lives that "guns are not toys" but for most of us thats just not true.

I own guns because I like to shoot paper and steel plates (and the occasional coke can) ... this is an adult form of play.


I pray every day that my toys never need to become weapons.

April 1, 2003, 12:35 AM
Interesting thoughts ... but not something I've ever lost any sleep over ...

So, using the "My gun isn't a weapon" line of thinking ... If I carry an issued "Service" weapon, or an off duty weapon, and it happens to be the same make, model & caliber as your favorite "non-weapon" firearm ... and I don't carry my weapon as a sporting arm, but only against the potential need for it to be used to defend & protect life ... Which of these 2 similar firearms is "properly acceptable" in polite society, and which will cause "liberals" to run screaming from the room?

Do you suppose the folks making the earliest firearms thought they'd make dandy things to use for hobby & "sport" during polite pastimes, or for defensive & hunting uses?

Were they intended to be a "better" arrow or spear, or, something to substitute for boring lawn games?

Granted, a competition .22 with an electric trigger is a firearm pretty much solely intended to be used for sporting, non-defensive purpose, but it can certainly be used as such in exigent circumstances ... but the 1911 or M9 wasn't designed and built to be used for sporting purpose, and neither was the first G17, submitted for consideration by the Austrian military.

Which came first, the chicken or the egg?

I get all kinds of looks, especially from ex GI types, when they call my latest a "fine looking weapon" and I reply that it is not a weapon. They don't understand and no amount of explaining will change that.

Is that YOU saying this, or the ex-GI types, after listening to your PC transmutation of your firearm into something warm & fuzzy? ... :scrutiny:


Dave R
April 1, 2003, 12:46 AM
Cratz2, its OK to be a little agumentative. That's why this section of the board is called General _Discussion_. Good supporting argument, with the definition and all.

But you haven't convinced me.

The definition you gave says a weapon is something intented to "injure, defeat or destroy".

I maintain that most guns are not created, nor purchased nor used to injure, defeat or destroy.

What percentage firearm models on the market are intended for self-defense (or even criminal offense?) Scratch bolt guns, long-barreled shotguns, long-barreled revolvers, .22's of all types (except maybe NAA's and Jetfires). I'd say fewer than 40% of models.

What percent of all gun owners hunt? Again, I'd venture fewer than half. Maybe as low as 10%.

I think there are published sources that say that fewer than 1% of all firearms are used in the commission of a crime, or in the defense of a crime.

So I stand by my statement that most guns do not meet the definition of a weapon, which you quoted. Sure, they could be used as a weapon, but that's not their designed purpose nor their intended use. You could use a carving knife as a weapon, but that's not its intended use.

Regarding "liberal concept"--I said "Liberal argument", as in, people who describe their poilitical leaning as "Liberal" are far more likely to use this argument than are conservatives or Libertarians. ;)

April 1, 2003, 01:06 AM
All my firearms are "tyrant killing tools".

April 1, 2003, 01:09 AM
So hondo68, when was the last time you killed a tyrant?


Andrew Wyatt
April 1, 2003, 01:13 AM
i don't know about you, but all my firearms are weapons.

April 1, 2003, 01:49 AM
I consider my guns firearms, or tools.

The internet can be attacked, servers can be brought down by hackers, which makes my computer a weapon if used in that way.

Cars, knives, bats, fists, heads, a rock, all weapons if used for that purpose.

I would prefer not to use my firearm as a weapon, just as I would prefer not to run over a perp with my car, but either one could be used if the situation and need arises.

Otherwise, I use my firearm, gun, rifle, projectile firing tool, for sporting/fun purposes.

April 1, 2003, 01:58 AM
Shoeless makes an excellent point about semantics and mindset.

Since I generally only teach L/E and some CCW folks, I'm in the position of discussing the lawful use of deadly force as applicable to using a firearm ... Even so, we focus on the aspect of the firearm being used as being deadly force, not on the semantics of what the firearm "is" ... What does the word "is" mean, anyway? :neener:

Sorry, couldn't resist when I saw where I was going with that last sentence.

Anyhow ... When I find myself off the range, and the subject of firearms comes up because someone learns of my "job" (which is something I generally try to avoid, by the way ... saves annoyance), I seldom use the non-PC term "weapon" unless the person is ex-military, or former Marine. It saves ruffled feathers and emotional distress among the dainty, civilized masses which inhabit the area in which I live ... :rolleyes:

Seriously, on those infrequent occasions when I find myself detailed to give a talk to ordinary folks ... many of which may not have ever held a firearm ... and the subject of firearms comes up, I try not to antagonize them by using "provocative" or "intimidating" terms which might bother them. "Weapon" is one such word ...

We also never heard the "W" word when my son was a member of a local .22 target shooting club, either, which is how it should be.

Show me a Ruger Super Blackhawk .44 Magnum with a 7.5" barrel and I'll think hunting or silhouette shooting ... but I'll also think of a S/A revolver design from the 1800's which was used as a military & L/E weapon, not to mention as a defensive weapon used by the common American of the time, against both human & animal attackers ... and which has been suitably converted over to "sporting" use in modern times now that "better" weapons have been developed and produced.

Show me a 1911 Government Model in stock condition, and I'll think of something similar, except this design is still VERY practical for use as a defensive weapon, and is still in use as such, by all th folks I listed above, even though it's become adopted and often modifed for "sporting" use ... Also, show me a pistol or revolver of the same type used by L/E as Service Weapons, in the same condition as issued models, and guess what?

A rose by any other name ...

Ala Dan
April 1, 2003, 02:30 AM
Definition of a firearm may include, but is not
limited to: instrument, tool, object, or weapon.

If a firearm is necessitated, if can be either an offensive
or defensive weapon; depending on the circumstances.

Best Wishes,
Ala Dan, N.R.A. Life Member

April 1, 2003, 02:53 AM
PC terminology? Here?? :)

April 1, 2003, 09:46 AM
Ok, one more time... IT'S NOT TO BE POLITICALLY CORRECT. Got it? The media uses language against the gun community all the time, so it does create perception, regardless of how much we pretend it doesn't. How many of us are aggravated when we hear the term "assault weapon" for any kind of rifle? But I digress...

To piggyback on what fastbolt said, when teaching a brand new shooter, we want them to be as comfortable as possible. Most of them are intimidated by guns to begin with. This is why I spend a good portion of my class showing them the various parts of a gun, taking it apart, explaining in mechanical terms how the gun works, how the ammunition is constructed, and anything else to take the mystery out of it. I want that person looking at a gun as just a little metal machine that they can control and not something to be intimidated by.

To this end, I also want to use *language* that decreases the new student's anxiety, and not increases it. The word "weapon" is one such word to avoid.

I think it's along the same lines as drawing the distinction between "shooting to kill" and "shooting to stop the threat". There is an important distinction to be made there, and language IS important.

I'd rather have a new shooter focused on the mechanics of the firearm and thinking of it in "neutral" terms rather than have them thinking "weapon", which brings preconceived ideas, bias, and emotion along with it. It makes them more at ease, which makes them learn quicker, and in my world, that's a good thing.

YMMV, as always.


April 1, 2003, 10:32 AM

How many legs does a cow have? (four).
Now suppose we call the cows tail a leg, now how many legs does the cow have? (five?)
Wrong. four. Calling a cows tail a leg does not make it a leg, it's still a tail.

Guns are weapons no matter how you stack it. We could call a weapon a toy and it may loosely be during peace time in a practical sense but it IS still a weapon. Very dangerous.

To downplay the dangerousness of a weapon to a new shooter is doing said new shooter a disservice. Some very fine and experianced shooters have injured themselves or worse by forgetting this for even a split second.

We dont teach new drivers that cars are 'bumper-cars', so why confuse and downplay guns to people?

Guns are fun. But the minute you stop respecting it, it bites you. This is a fact of life on this dirtball. Don't teach people that coral snakes are really king snakes just because they're intimidated. Intimidation generates respect and respect keeps people in one piece. If the new shooter can't handle that, maybe they should get an airsoft and watch reruns of the A Team instead.

Don't cloud the safety issue with semantics. JMO.

April 1, 2003, 01:41 PM
Nobody said anything about downplaying it. Nobody said anything about not respecting it. It's purely language, which, IMO, is important. As I said, YMMV. You call it what you will, but I'll not refer to it as a weapon with my students or those coming to the range for practice.


April 1, 2003, 01:47 PM
Read the Founding Fathers, there is a reason that firearms are weapons.

Yes, my Ruger Bearcat was obviously intended as a defense against tyranny... three-quarter-scale injuns and banditos. ;)

April 1, 2003, 01:51 PM
Guns are fun. But the minute you stop respecting it, it bites you. This is a fact of life on this dirtball. Don't teach people that coral snakes are really king snakes just because they're intimidated.

Does this mean I should refer to my ball python as a "weapon" when letting visitors handle it? Are table saws or motorcycles weapons? I mean, both will maim or kill you if you don't treat them with respect.

Does Chipper Jones call his Louisville Slugger a weapon? I mean, after all, clubs were designed to kill; who cares if it's currently being used for "sporting purposes".

April 1, 2003, 01:58 PM
I'm afraid that an event occuring, to me at least, somewhere around 30 years ago set the agenda on this...

I spent two weeks of basic carrying bricks in my front pants pockets, and, to this day, you won't see me with my hands in my pockets unless working something in or out.

Same thing with hats indoors.

And, having observed, but not having had to perform, the DI forced rifle/gun demo, I'm afraid that this class of tools will either be called by their specific name, or, as a generic, a weapon.

Given that it was only a few years over the course of a much longer life, I sometimes wonder why that
bull still remains embedded...

Ah well, I've never been PC, and they tell me the first fifty are the hard ones, so I'm waiting to see what shows up next in the area of wierd trivia.

April 1, 2003, 02:16 PM
I ain't being PC. ;)

I have plenty of weapons, but then again, I also have some toys that shoot bullets. They could be dangerous if mishandled, but so could a fireplace poker.

It's the whole "guns were designed to kill people" thing that sets my teeth on edge. Swords were designed to stab people, too, yet fencing foils have blunt tips. Go figure.

If a Ruger Bearcat or an Anschutz 2013 were designed to kill people, their designers weren't really grasping the concept well.

Chris Rhines
April 1, 2003, 02:36 PM
weap·on n.
- An instrument of attack or defense in combat, as a gun, missile, or sword.
- Zoology. A part or organ, such as a claw or stinger, used by an animal in attack or defense.
- A means used to defend against or defeat another: Logic was her weapon.

Ah, but if (for some reason) I'm pressed into using my Anschutz 1701 to bust caps in a horde of Commie Mutant Biker Ninjas, is it still not a weapon? :)

Or if I have to pummel one of the CMBNs to death with my french press*, is my french press a weapon? :D

My take is that a weapon is some object that is being used as "an instrument of attack or defense."

- Chris

* - Should that be "freedom press?"

April 1, 2003, 02:43 PM
You are obviously correct. Should you be forced to subdue said CMBN's with papercuts, then that sheet of Great White Recycled Typing Paper is now a weapon.

Of course, when it comes to the CMBN's, I'd rather use a weapon that was designed for killing, like a Garand or a Glock, than a dangerous toy, like a single-shot .22LR. ;)

Chris Rhines
April 1, 2003, 02:46 PM
Tamara - You and me both.

- Chris

April 1, 2003, 02:51 PM
as far as PC goes, I have been calling firearms, guns, pistols, rifles, shotguns, etc since the 50's, long before PC came into being. I never heard the term weapon until I went into the air force. There are very few PC bones in my body because SHMBO says so. If I install the bayonets on my milsurps would it then be a "super weapon? I have stabbed many people with the pud below my navel but never with a bayonet, so which is the weapon.....chris3

April 1, 2003, 02:58 PM
The language by which we refer to firearms is important to establish mindset. A weapon is anything used with the intent to inflict damage. A firearm is simply the machine itself. Neutral.

Shoeless, not to pick on you, and I understand the reasoning behind using certain language under certain circumstances to create a mind set but regardless of word usage, a rose is a rose.

By your defined wording, there is really no such thing as a weapon unless it is in the act of causing harm or destruction to something else. A gun, baseball bat, USMC knife, sword, throwing star etc... not weapons. They aren't weaspons when they're being carried for self defense, they aren't weapons when you are training with them in case you need to use them for self defense, and if you do use them to cause damage, then after the damage is done, they once again cease being weapons. This is the extreme limit of being PC.

A submarine launched missile capable of deploying 6 seperate tactical nuclear warheads is not a weapon. It isn't designed as such and after one levels six small cities, it was not a weapon. Sounds kinda silly when you up the ante, doesn't it?

Since we're all playing semantics here, it's still all about original intent. A Maxim gun is a weapon. A military Colt 1911A1 made in 1943 is a weapon. A M4 carbine is a weapon. A Glock 23 is a weapon. An single shot Anzchutz 22 is not a weapon, a 1,000 air pistol isn't a weapon. Most SVI open class pistols aren't weapons. A O/U shotgun for sporting clays isn't a weapon. (Actually, in a strict sense, these last four examples are still weapons. To be used against paper, steel and clay.)

If, when the firearm was designed and built, it was designed and built for hunting, self defense or military use, it is a weapon as clearly defined in most any dictionary. If it was designed for shooting paper, it isn't a weapon against humans or animals in either the most traditional or modern sense.

I just don't see you anyone can rationalize a handgun, carried on one's person, loaded with bullets designed to inflict the maximum amount damage against soft tissue is not a weapon. Drill instructors and NRA trainers aside, to the common person, it is absolutely a weapon. Before, during and after it's intended use.

April 1, 2003, 04:27 PM
All I'm sayin is you got to be careful how you talk to newbies. If they unintentionally downplay anything for themselves based on your bad choice of terminology, it could possibly lead to an ND sometime for them. Ever tried to be nice and invite a newbie shooting and the first thing they do is point a gun at you ang giggle? I have. They didn't get invited back.

Philisophically speaking, every object is at the same time a weapon and yet, not a weapon. You could stuff a foam Nerf Ball down someones throat and kill them, or we could 'go have fun' and recreationally shoot weapons.

If I pointed my 'toy' Bearcat at your face, even if you knew it was unloaded, would it still be a toy?

(makes me slightly uncomfortable just saying that, respect for weapons/people etc..)

I agree terminology is important. There's no telling just how far stupidity can run with something that was less than 100% clear. Being less than clear could incite an improper mindset in some people. Teaching newbies to shoot is fun but serious business. Leave nothing to chance with objects which have the potential to hurt you gravely even inadvertantly with no serious intent present. (And don't come at me with a Nerf Ball with serious intent!)

Weaponcraft. Shooting a single shot Anzchutz 22 or Bearcat is not toycraft and shouldn't be depicted as such. The life you save may be you own. :neener:

April 2, 2003, 09:17 AM
We can agree to disagree, however, I'm not using the word. As an NRA instructor, I'm instructed NOT to use the word, as well and I have no problem with that.


April 2, 2003, 07:06 PM
None of my firearms are weapons, unless someone decides it's a good idea to bust in my house. They come in looking for money, they get dragged out filled with lead.

What I don't get is the phrase "Target Weapon". Those dastardly paper killers!

April 2, 2003, 09:36 PM
As I see it, now that you bring it up. Hmmmm.......

4 bought for defense, CCW=weapons.
2 bought for hunting=weapons.
8 bought as pin shooters, paperpunchers, silhouette tools and cheap entertainment=fun adult toys.

Never thought of it that way. I've always considered all my guns weapons, but maybe I have only 6. But mine is also a good argument for the buying of guns for reasons other than killing.

April 2, 2003, 09:54 PM
The fire extinguisher in my kitchen is a fire extinguisher, whether or not I ever use it to extinguish a fire.

Or is it?



We are getting into semantics again. If we use words, there is a very grave danger they will be misinterpreted. -- H. R. Haldeman, testifying in his own defense

April 2, 2003, 09:57 PM
Our thread starter was correct when he stated that guns, by themselves, don't leap up & shoot. Regardless of the terminology or semantics - the only weapon is between a person's ears. 900F

April 2, 2003, 10:38 PM
OK then, tools of the trade. (the trade is weaponcraft.).:D

BTW, maybe I missed it but if you don't call them weapons to your students, what terminology do you use?

April 2, 2003, 11:00 PM
A firearm only becomes a weapon when used in an offensive or defensive manner.

That's why the term "weapon" is ingrained into those who serve in the military and law enforcement...because that's how they use firearms. As an NRA firearm instructor we never use the "W" word unless it's in a offensive or defensive context.

Mrs Rembrandt cooks a lot of meals in the cast iron skillet....but when she starts chasing me through the house with it...well, it becomes a "Weapon"....:p

Byron Quick
April 2, 2003, 11:42 PM
All my weapons are tools. Weapons are a subset of tools.

Some tools have more than one use or can be put to more than one use,i.e, improvisation. My blacksmith hammers can crush a skull very handily. On the other hand using my pistols and revolvers as a hammer will work after a fashion but it will damage a valuable weapon.

My 400 year old katana is an obsolete weapon. Tameshegiri is cutting a target. It is practice in the use of this weapon.

Shooting paper targets is practice for the use of my weapon as a weapon. It also can be a sport by those who have no intention of using their weapon as a weapon. Their intent does not change the true purpose of their weapon.

Some of my firearms have primary purposes that are not intended as offensive or defensive weapons against humans. However, if I have it in my hands when the time comes I will use it as such.

Robert Heinlein once stated that there is no such thing as a dangerous weapon...there are only dangerous humans. He went on to say that such humans are dangerous even with two legs and one arm blown off. True words...

April 3, 2003, 01:11 AM
Not all guns are weapons, but most of mine are.
The .22s are mostly sporting goods, but they would become a weapon if I needed them to, just like a crowbar or hammer.

If you enjoyed reading about "Is a firearm a weapon? no....." here in archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join today for the full version!