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The Tool vs Weapon Distinction

The Tool vs Weapon Distinction
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I originally made this video for prospective NRA Basic Pistol Instructor Candidates because the National Rifle Association does not allow the term weapon to be used in basic classes, and many instructor candidates (especially the former military ones) have a very hard time with this.

In my opinion the distinction between tool vs weapon is a critical issue, not of semantics, but of mindset. To me something is or is not a weapon based upon its use. Wither it is a t-ball bat, a tire iron, a filet knife, a pistol, or a car – they are tools that have uses other than as a weapon.

Since not all NRA basic students are interested in handguns for defensive purposes, and some feel the word weapon has negative connotations, the NRA has made this decision in order to be welcoming to all people that want to know how to safely operate a pistol and not just serve those that are interested in the defensive uses.

As you may know by now, I am not the sort to go into histrionics over someone calling a magazine a clip, and I do sometimes over simplify my own language to be more approachable, but as an instructor I feel it is vital to understand the difference between a weapon and a firearm and use the proper terms in class.

However, for those that have problems being able to separate the two terms in your head I will tell you how I look at it, and hopefully it will help you sort it out.

“I am the weapon, the gun is my tool”

I do not always have my gun on me (I work on a Guard Base where it is prohibited), but I am never unarmed – if attacked I will grab my nearest weapon (which at this moment is a metal stapler) and use it against the closest target, but I never ask my coworker to hand me a weapon when I want to staple documents.

Published inSelf Defense, Security, & Shooting


  1. Franco Gandulia Franco Gandulia

    I don’t agree with you on this.
    ‘something is or is not a weapon based upon its use’,
    so what about a tool designed to serve a unique use: be a weapon?

    Semantics are not a little thing.

    • I would imagine that a morning star would be a weapon – but it came from a flail used agriculturally – just because a gun can kill or was designed to kill does not mean that is how it is used.

      My AR-15 has never been used as a weapon, but it could be, I use it much more often as a training tool.
      What about my my claw hammer. If I catch someone in my basement workshop and all I have close is my hammer – then my hammer will be my weapon, but it is based upon use.

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