The phrase "blunt instrument" is used to describe a type of weapon that lacks a sharp point or edge. Examples of a blunt instrument include baseball bats, canes, rocks, and hockey sticks. In contrast, penetrating instruments, such as knives or bullets, have sharp points or edges and usually cause wounds easier than blunt instruments.
Typically, the effect of the use of a blunt instrument is called blunt force trauma by medical professionals. Blunt force trauma has a variety of levels associated with it. Minor blunt force trauma manifests in bruises and does not lead to lasting damage. More serious cases of blunt force trauma are marked by abrasions, lacerations, and concussions, and may lead to serious injury or even death. It is often difficult to ascertain the extent of blunt force trauma due to internal injuries that have few or no external symptoms.
Blunt force trauma is different from penetrating trauma. Penetrating trauma is typically caused by a penetrating instrument that enters the body. Although blunt force trauma may break the skin, the device used to inflict the injury does not normally pierce the body.
In most legal cases involving a blunt instrument, the instrument is used as a weapon by a person who willfully injures another person. The instrument in these instances may also be described as the blunt force weapon. Blunt instruments are common in crimes because they are often ordinary objects that are readily available.
The most typical cases involving blunt instruments are robberies, crimes of passion, and hate crimes. Penalties for use of a blunt instrument in a crime depend on the severity of the injuries. The most serious penalties are sought when use of the blunt force weapon leads to death.
Blunt instruments are a popular weapon in movies. In action movies, a character often makes use of an object lying nearby, such as a wooden plank or a piece of furniture, to attack another person or for self defense. Blunt instruments are also featured in gang-fight scenes and riot footage.
Like most weapons, blunt instruments are not always used willfully. Injuries from blunt instruments may occur accidentally through carelessness or neglect. Generally, injuries caused by this type of usage may still be prosecuted, but lower penalties are usually assigned. It is a good idea to keep items that can be used as blunt instruments away from unsupervised children to prevent accidental injuries.