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During the reign of the Empire (episodes III-VI) it's conceivable that the lightsabers of dead Jedi survived even if their owners did not. Say a weapon smuggler were to be stopped at a checkpoint by the Empire in possession of a lightsaber, and it was clear that the smuggler was no Jedi. Would possessing the lightsaber automatically be grounds for arrest? Were lightsabers seen as innocent artefacts from a bygone age that could be freely bought and sold on the open market like any other weapon? Were lightsabers seen to be intrinsically linked to the Rebellion - like how being caught in possession of drugs is seen to be implicit evidence of drug usage?

I'm interested in whether this scenario ever happened in canon and, if so, what the result was. But I'm also interested in the broader principle - was the Empire hunting down Force sensitives more generally or was it also looking for non-Jedi with access to old Jedi artefacts?

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    It's unclear exactly why, but in SW: Aftermath (or one of the sequels), the Imperial police had a lightsaber in their lockup. – phantom42 Jun 5 '17 at 11:06
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Not likely

In Return Of The Jedi movie, when Luke surrenders to the Imperial troops on Endor, they looked confused about the lightsaber in his possession. The imperial officer passes him to Vader saying "He was armed only with ... this". Looks like they were not instructed how to deal with such weapons.

It makes sense that the Sith were trying to pretend that the Jedi do not exist, so that they were treated as a legend of an old age, long forgotten, rather than an actual enemy being hunted. That is the impression of the original trilogy.

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    Jedi are rare after The Purge. So rare, in fact, that Han didn't even believe they existed before meeting Luke, and Rey didn't believe they were real before meeting Han. It's actually kind of impressive how quickly The Empire managed to effectively wipe out all belief that the Jedi Order ever even existed. – DisturbedNeo Jun 5 '17 at 13:32
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    So someone with a lightsaber would be able to go about freely because the Empire thought the Jedi were discredited ideologically? I'm not convinced. – The Dark Lord Jun 5 '17 at 14:23
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    @TheDarkLord , the Empire does need an excuse to arrest someone behaving suspiciously. But it looks like they had no specific instructions on lightsabers and possible had no idea how that particular device could be used as a weapon. – TimSparrow Jun 5 '17 at 14:26
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    [Speculation] Remember, there were maybe 1000 (I'm probably wrong about this, but seem to recall that number) Jedi for the whole galaxy. Odds are, even while they were around in full force your average citizen hadn't met anyone even second or third hand who had seen a Jedi. If you were (un)lucky one of them would have visited your planet in the last 3 generations. Once the empire declares them traitors and executes them, anyone who had any knowledge of Jedi would know enough to stay silent. Thus, anyone under 40-50 wouldn't have heard of them. – Ethan Jun 5 '17 at 15:55
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    @TheDarkLord: It might look strange to let someone with a lightsaber pass, but on the other hand, a Jedi might wave his hand and pass anyway. If that guy with a lightsaber is not a Jedi, he will likely slice himself when trying to use that weapon. Ordering ordinary patrols to try to deal with trained Jedi is not a good idea. – Holger Jun 6 '17 at 11:02

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