A deadly weapon, sometimes dangerous weapon, is a statutory definition listing certain items which can inflict mortal or great bodily harm. In addition, deadly weapon statutes often contain "catch all" provisions which describe abilities used to designate other implements as deadly weapons.
Examples of deadly weapons
A deadly weapon is usually defined as a firearm or any object designed, made, or adapted for the purposes of inflicting death or serious physical injury. In addition to all firearms, the term deadly weapon encompasses knives of a certain length (usually three inches or longer, depending on jurisdiction), and in many jurisdictions includes the switchblade, gravity knife, ballistic knife, stiletto, sword, dagger, blackjack, brass knuckles, nunchaku (fighting sticks), shuriken (throwing stars), among other weapons.
In some jurisdictions, a distinction is made between deadly weapons and destructive devices, such as explosives, incendiary or poison gas bombs, grenades, landmines, rockets, missiles, or similar devices, including the unassembled components from which such devices can be made.
In 19th century France, a closed fist was considered a deadly weapon and thus combatants would kick or strike each other with an open-palmed slap, possibly influencing the French martial art Savate.
In Wisconsin, statute §939.22(10) defines dangerous weapon:
"Dangerous weapon" means any firearm, whether loaded or unloaded; any device designed as a weapon and capable of producing death or great bodily harm; any electric weapon, as defined in s. 941.295 (4); or any other device or instrumentality which, in the manner it is used or intended to be used, is calculated or likely to produce death or great bodily harm.
Pennsylvania Crimes Code, Title 18 Pa.C.S.A. § 2301. Definitions.
"Deadly Weapon." Any firearm, whether loaded or unloaded, or any device designed as a weapon and capable of producing death or serious bodily injury, or any other device or instrumentality which, in the manner in which it is used or intended to be used, is calculated or likely to produce death or serious bodily injury. (effective June 6, 1973)
The use or possession of a deadly weapon during the commission of a crime often constitutes a penalty enhancer. The deadly weapon penalty enhancer is premised on a belief that commission of the particular crime is inherently more dangerous.
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