Han shoots first. It’s the rallying cry of many a Star Wars fan after George Lucas insisted on awkwardly changing it for his Special Edition reissues in 1997.
Despite many protests over the years, Lucas has refused to change it back, going on record as stating that if it were true that “Han shoots first,” as they say, he would be a pretty irredeemable character.
Apparently Lucas never met The Legal Geeks, who decided to weigh in on the validity of Han Solo’s decision when faced with capture and (probably) death at the hands of Greedo, a ne’er do well bounty hunter working for Jabba the Hutt.
That’s because the attorney weighing in — Josh Gilliland — concludes that Han was completely justified in taking out Greedo the way that he did.
To set up his argument, Gilliland notes that Greedo had a gun on Solo and that he was making threats about what he was going to do to the lovable rogue pilot.
From there, he tries to pressure Han to give him the money intended for Jabba so that he can (maybe) forget that he saw him.
Solo is between a rock and a hard place, and he can’t reasonably retreat from the situation since a gun is trained on him and he’s sitting with his back against the wall with Greedo in front of him.
Gilliland concludes that “Han shoots first,” and is completely justified in doing so because of three key factors.
Firstly, the Model Penal Code on using deadly force in self-defense allows for one to engage if they feel “such force is immediately necessary to protect himself on the present occasion against:… death… serious bodily injury… forcible rape… or kidnapping.”
While it’s clear that Greedo probably wasn’t going to engage in number three on that list (and probably not number four either), having the gun on Han showed an intent for serious bodily injury, which could also easily be assumed to be to the point of death.
Furthermore, the MPC has a provision called the “Retreat Rule” that states if a threatened person can retreat and avoid killing the aggressor without endangering himself, then he is obligated to do so (unless, typically, he is in his home or place of work).
Many jurisdictions disagree on what constitutes obligation under the Retreat Rule, but Gilliland believes that in Han’s case, he could not get out of the situation without doing what he did, given the raucous nature of the cantina.
(Obi-Wan Kenobi had just sliced off Ponda Baba’s arm, after all, and everyone went about their business.)
Finally, Greedo, through the use of a weapon and his dialogue with Han, instilled a reasonable belief in Han that he was about to shoot.
Given that situation, “Han shoots first” was the only option.
As you might imagine, not everyone was on board with this conclusion, feeling that the author was seeing Han’s purpose through rose-colored glasses.
Jim Liesen, a self-described concealed carry instructor, writes on the Vulture site that “we would agree on the three fundamentals (means, intent, and imminence), but that “for you to claim innocence in a defense case you ALSO must be the INNOCENT PARTY.”
“In our not so far away world of prosecutors, we have to convince the prosecutor that Han was NOT doing anything illegal to cause such event from occurring in the first place!!!” Liesen argues. “Clearly, intergalactic smuggling, money laundering and dealings with bounty hunters makes even the most ‘reasonable person’ suspect?”
Here, fans, decide for yourself.
What do you think about the “Han shoots first” scene, readers? Was Solo justified in blasting Greedo to death? Sound off in the comments section.
[Image via Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope screen grab]