Weapons are tools of both defense and offense, they can be used to save life or to take it. Anything can be a weapon such as a gun, knife, a bow, a Taser stun gun, a stick, even simple devices like pens can be wielded as weapons.
To bear a weapon is to bear the responsibility of the potential to harm or kill others, this should never be taken lightly.
Types of Weapons
A firearm is generally the most effective personal weapon, they are extremely effective both as physical and psychological weapons. Depending on where in the world you live the legality of owning and using firearms is subject to many different conditions. Firearms inflict damage through penetration, causing a wound channel leading to bleeding, and by mechanical breaking of bones and joints.
A knife, at its simplest, is a single sharp blade; the rest is all detail. The knife is one of the oldest and still most used survival tools in existence; its history stretches well beyond recorded time. It is both tool and weapon.
Melee weapons are any weapons used in close combat, they may be bludgeons, blades, or just about anything you can find in a pinch (i.e. improvised weapons). Melee weapons may inflict damage through crushing (e.g. a hammer), cleaving (e.g. an axe), or by penetration (e.g. a spear), or by a combination of effects.
Electrical weapons include stun guns (e.g. Tasers), cattle prods, and similar devices. Most use a high voltage, low amperage shock to produce pain and/or temporary paralysis to the target. Lethal electrical devices are generally improvised weapons and are illegal to produce. Electro-magnetic pulse (EMP) weapons are also restricted to government use only though criminals such as terrorists may possess them.
Optical weapons such as high powered lasers are currently limited to governments only. Low power (wattage) lasers are common among the civilian population both as laser pointers and targeting lasers for weapons. However, the misuse of a low wattage laser to inflict blindness or to cause panic (due to belief the subject is being targeted by a weapon) is illegal. Extremely bright tactical flashlights, can also be used as weapons to momentarily blind an attacker.
Explosives are extremely powerful weapons typically used by police, militaries or terrorists. Explosives may be owned by civilians when used in the construction industry. However, the misuse of any explosive is criminal and will bring about a harsh government response.
Chemical weapons include various nerve or respiratory toxins that are used in airborne forms to kill or incapacitate, typically these are used only by governments or terrorists. Lethal chemical weapons are considered "Weapons of Mass Destruction" (WMD) and use of them will likely bring retaliation in kind by other governments. Milder chemical weapons such as pepper spray are available to the general public for self-defense.
Most biological weapons are contagions (i.e. viruses or bacteria) or toxins (i.e. ricin) that are weaponized to be either more aggressive, more contagious, or in some other way more damaging. These bio-weapons are one of the greatest potential causes of a massive epidemic. Bio-weapons can also be naturally infected materials and in the past such things as plague-infected bodies have been used as weapons. Lethal biological weapons are considered "Weapons of Mass Destruction" (WMD) and use of them will likely bring retaliation in kind by other governments.
Like chemical and biological weapons, radiological weapons (i.e. nuclear warheads and "dirty bombs") are the weapons of either governments or terrorists. In both cases these weapons are considered "Weapons of Mass Destruction" (WMD) and use of them will likely bring retaliation in kind by other governments.