Bokuto.

When one normally thinks of Jump series they think of 300-chapter-long epic battles with seemingly invincible enemies that have four different forms, or entire spreads dedicated to the hero powering up. After all, there isn't anything manlier than the guts and glory of finally slaying the Big Bad. Though Gintama is pretty much 95% nonsense, by no means is it void of this Shounen Jump staple: Gintoki can certainly rip the enemy a new one when need be. What's interesting about Gintoki as a shounen manga hero, however, is how often he chooses not to. Though I certainly wouldn't call Gintoki a pacifist, he seems to be a character who chooses to avoid violence over petty (or even important) things. During one of his first duels in the series with Kondou Isao, Commander of the Shinsengumi, Gintoki manipulates a sword to "break" after a few swings and then offers it to his opponent in order to cheat his way out of actually having to fight to the death over the heart of hostess Otae. Point being: only stalker gorilla losers fight to the death over the heart of a woman who doesn't even care he exists. And only Gintoki would cheat his way out of a fight.

You're the stupidest fool that was ever fooled. Borrowing a weapon from an enemy...I carved it while in the restroom. Even a couple swings will break this wood. Anyone who'd risk their life for a duel like this is a dumbass. The one who settles everything peacefully is the winner.
--Sakata Gintoki, Chapter 8
Gintoki's choice of "weapon" (the bokuto, a wooden sword commonly used for training) is an interesting symbol of his current disposition in regards to killing. Unlike a real katana a bokuto wouldn't normally be used for anything but training, although "anything can be used as a weapon" and Gintoki has proved it to be quite destructive in a number of chapters. You could definitely blame his laziness, but Gintoki isn't one to resort to violence to solve his problems and doesn't believe in killing pointlessly. The bokuto seems to become symbolic for his post-war beliefs: as the feared Shiroyasha he spent a lot of time pointlessly fighting against hundreds and hundreds of Amanto enemies, none of which actually solved the problems which the country is facing now. No longer interested in killing or in futile battles, Gintoki wields a sword which can certainly deliver a beating, but not necessarily kill. After all, can't everything be solved with a simple game of jankenpon?

That being said, Gintoki slaying his enemies or wishing death upon people definitely isn't unheard of, but it's most definitely rare or perhaps just indirect. Though Gintoki pummels Jiraia to the brink of death, his student Tsukuyo is the one who ends up taking his life, much to Gintoki's surprise. He's also not really the one who deals the final blow to Hosen--rather, Hosen's weakened Yato body passes away under the sunlight. And heck, Jirochou, who almost kills off Otose, ends up fighting back to back with Gintoki at the end of his respective arc. What's interesting about a number of Gintoki's opponents is that they have a tendency to leave a battle or pass away at peace with themselves, accepting the mistakes they've made during their life, whereas in other series the bad guys are often times just plain evilâ„¢.

This is most likely a product of a severe ass kicking and out-of-character riveting speech on Gintoki's part, but you could say that it's also a somewhat forgiving way in which Gintoki approaches his enemies. He doesn't kill simply to get revenge or rid the world of evil, he brings to light the mistakes they've made and the evil they've wrought. And when the enemies can come to terms with all their wrongdoings, it makes bad guys seem less "bad" and more "misunderstood". What's wonderful about Gintoki's is that he has the tendency to bring out the best people, even the bad ones. When you think about it, even Goku gave Frieza a second chance.

What it really boils down to once again is Shouyou-sensei's teachings of "protecting the soul". Gintoki will probably choose to run and hide 85% of the time (especially if it involves ghosts), but when he does choose to take up a sword he means serious business. Gintoki doesn't fight to protect his life, hide his weaknesses, or even save the world--he simply wants to protect what he (and those dearest to him) believe in. When somebody dishonors or interrupts the values which Gintoki or his customers hold dearly, he takes it upon himself to make sure that things are set straight again. In a genre where so many conflicts are commonly resolved by death, Gintoki's character stands out as someone who can resolve things in other ways--whether that be a nonsensical-yet-somehow-inspirational speech or pissing profanities on their front doorstep.