Difference Between Dangerous Weapon and Deadly Weapon
Although the terms "dangerous" or "deadly" were used in the disjunctive in many statutes, with regard to "inherently deadly" weapons, the latter category includes the former.
As the Supreme Court has pointed out: "When loaded, a 'gun is unquestionably a dangerous and deadly weapon'; even when unloaded, it is at least a 'dangerous weapon." ( In re Christopher R. (1993) 6 Cal. 4th 86, 94 [23 Cal. Rptr. 2d 786, 859 P.2d 1301].)
The classical distinction between these two states is that a loaded gun is a deadly weapon per se, but even an unloaded gun--a large metal object--may be used as a bludgeon, and "it is at least a 'dangerous weapon.' "(In re Christopher R., supra, 6 Cal. 4th at p. 94.)
"As used in section 245, . . . a 'deadly weapon' is 'any object, instrument, or weapon which is used in such a manner as to be capable of producing and likely to produce, death or great bodily injury.'
Some few objects, such as dirks and blackjacks, have been held to be deadly weapons as a matter of law; the ordinary use for which they are designed establishes their character as such." (People v. Aguilar (1997) 16 Cal. 4th 1023, 1028-1029 [68 Cal. Rptr. 2d 655, 945 P.2d 1204], citing People v. Graham (1969) 71 Cal. 2d 303, 327 [78 Cal. Rptr. 217, 455 P.2d 153], disapproved on other grounds in People v. Ray (1975) 14 Cal. 3d 20, 32 [120 Cal. Rptr. 377, 533 P.2d 1017].)
The Aguilar court also noted that "other objects, while not deadly per se, may be used, under certain circumstances, in a manner likely to produce death or great bodily injury." ( People v. Aguilar, supra, 16 Cal. 4th at p. 1029; see also People v. Simons (1996) 42 Cal. App. 4th 1100, 1107 [50 Cal. Rptr. 2d 351], holding a screwdriver to be a deadly weapon as employed in that case.)
The list of inherently deadly weapons in Graham included: " '. . . There are, first, those instrumentalities which are weapons in the strict sense of the word . . . . [Instruments] such as guns, dirks and blackjacks, which are weapons in the strict sense of the word and are "dangerous or deadly" to others in the ordinary use for which they are designed, may be said as a matter of law to be "dangerous or deadly weapons." . . .' " ( People v. Graham, supra, 71 Cal. 2d at p. 327, quoting People v. Raleigh (1932) 128 Cal. App.. 105, 108-109 [16 P.2d 752].)