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Han (Justifiably In The Eyes Of The Law) Shot First

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, Han Solo acted in self-defense and shot Greedo first, according to a Thursday opinion piece by University of Alabama School of Law professor John Gross.

This legal opinion came directly before Friday’s release of “Star Wars: The Force Awakens.”

“Let’s assume that the law of self-defense on Tatooine is the same as it is in just about every jurisdiction in the United States: a person is legally permitted to use the amount of force that reasonably appears necessary to defend him or herself against an apparent threat,” writes law professor John Gross. “If deadly force is used in self-defense, then the person must also believe that it was immediately necessary in order to prevent the infliction of serious bodily harm or death. Many jurisdictions also explicitly authorize the use of deadly force in order to prevent what they define as a ‘forcible felony’, crimes such as robbery or kidnapping.”

In the opinion of law professor John Gross, Han therefore legally shot first.

The controversy over who shot first goes back to the original 1977 release of the original Star Wars: A New Hope. In the film, Han Solo shoots and kills the bounty hunter Greedo in a Mos Eisley cantina. Later editions of the film edited the scene so that Greedo fires at Solo and misses at short range, and then Solo returns fire. George Lucas has claimed that he changed the controversial scene because it made the iconic character seem as though he was “a cold-blooded killer.”

Star Wars fans responded with great anger at Lucas, that anger led to hate, and that hate led to suffering through the prequels. Fans objected  to the revision, calming it altered Han’s initially morally ambiguous character, making his later transition from anti-hero to hero less meaningful.

“I’m sorry you saw half a completed film and fell in love with it. But I want it to be the way I want it to be.” Lucas responded in a 2004 interview.

Regardless of Lucas’ claim, the draft of the original film’s script make no mention of Greedo shooting at all.

“The scene never needed editing because it is clear that Solo was completely justified in shooting Greedo when he did. In other words, Han legally shot first.” Gross writes.

The original and re-recorded scenes are shown in the clip below.


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