As every Star Wars fan knows, Han shot first.
Harrison Ford’s appearance as Han Solo in A New Hope is a textbook example of how to introduce a character effectively. In just a couple of minutes you know all you need to know about him: he’s on the wrong side of the law, he’ll do what it takes to get the job done, he’s perceptive, street smart and most certainly isn’t heroic. Much of this characterization comes when Han senses that the bounty hunter Greedo is about to get the drop on him and summarily executes him. It’s a cool scene, but was Han legally correct to do what he did?
Apparently, yes – according to The Legal Geeks, a blog that examines thorny questions like the legality of Finn parking on the Canto Bight beach, or if Thor working with the US Government violates the Establishment Clause.
“The issue under common law is whether Han reasonably believed that deadly force was necessary to prevent imminent and unlawful use of deadly force by Greedo,” writes the outlet.
“Under the Model Penal Code, the issue is whether Han believed deadly force was immediately necessary to protect himself against 1) Death (in the event Greedo fired first); 2) Serious bodily injury (a blaster wound likely do serious injury if not fatal) or 3) Kidnapping (Greedo arguably could have intended to take Han to Jabba the Hut.)”
Now, it’s not quite as simple as Han having reasonable cause to defend himself – his attorney would also have to take into account whether he had an opportunity to retreat or escape from the situation without resorting to deadly force. Here the law is a little fuzzier, with various jurisdictions taking different stances on whether Han would have had an obligation to try and escape before opening fire.
Despite this, given the clear and present danger presented by Greedo, supported by his clearly threatening behaviour, it looks as if any case brought against him by the Tatooine legal system would have been thrown out (assuming they abide by US legal standards in a galaxy far far away, that is).
Next on the docket, the case of Batman v The Esteemed Guild of Gotham City Clowns.