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I'm just curious: we all know that Federation replicators don’t make weapons, but what counts as a weapon? Is a knife and fork a weapon or just the knife? The plate itself is a weapon (technically).

My question is: is there any reference or instance on where the line is drawn on what could be called a weapon? I am willing to accept anything replicated that could be used as a weapon, I understand that the only answer to this may be the most extreme example of a weapon (or something that could be used as such) being replicated.

Just for clarity I’m looking for the classification for a weapon (in Federation ones mainly), not if it could replicate. The most commonly-known example is the DS9 replicator replicating a self-firing phaser unit (but that’s what its capable of) not what I’m asking, I'm looking for the border lines of where the computers says 'hey why do you need this'.

And not the DS9 episode where a TR116 was replicated — I'm asking about everyday use, no special clearance required. Imagine some breaks in and you’re next to the replicator; what’s the most dangerous weapon you could ask for to defend yourself?

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    Throw a plate of gagh at the intruder. I’d run... Wait, I don’t think you can replicate live gagh. – Molag Bal Sep 3 '16 at 23:23
  • it would still be gagh it just wouldn't move – Matt Sep 3 '16 at 23:28
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    Dead gagh has no honor! – Molag Bal Sep 3 '16 at 23:31
  • I wonder if it would replicate a halberd? – Duane Dibbley Sep 4 '16 at 0:32
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    Or if the plates and glasses can be broken, the shards could be used as knives. Of course, knowing the Federation they're probably made of safety glass. – Joe L. Sep 4 '16 at 0:56
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Knife and fork are absolutely OK to be replicated. So does a plate or, say, something sharp, which could be used as a weapon if you would be willing enough -- that's fine, because you could also use something else whcih does not come from a replicator as a weapon, let's say a Horga'hn.

The limitations replicators do have is that they cannot make energy weapons like phasers, disruptors, or the infamous Varon-T.

So, if you would consider a knife to be a weapon, then yes, replicators can replicate them, as long as they're not energy-based. More on this from MemoryAlpha:

On Starfleet installations and starships, if a person in custody is confined to quarters, it is standard policy to disable the replicators that the person has access to, in order to ensure that a weapon cannot be replicated

EDIT: Sadly, I never found anything that would clearly state an answer to this. It could be assumed that the replicator does have either a black list of things it cannot replicate, or some sort of algorithm to recognize weapon-ish objects.

I also realize that on several occasions in Star Trek, the functions of the replicator (the scope of things it can replicate) was limited, for example when a dangerous peson was around. That could mean that the replicator does have an algorithm, that analyzes the thing you want to replicate and then assigns it some "weapon score" - if the score is OK, the object gets replicated, if the score is above some line, the object is considiered a weapon and is not replicated - something similar to how today's antispam solutions work. But that's just an idea.

  • so as long as its not energy based it would be allowed? so I could ask for a sub-machine gun and it would be allowed. that doesn't seem right to me – Matt Sep 7 '16 at 21:05
  • Good point. I have edited the answer. – Ondrej Sep 8 '16 at 5:53

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