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Are blasters allowed in the Mos Eisley Cantina?

In the original Star Wars, there are two gunfights that take place in the Mos Eisley Cantina. The bartender's reaction to them is dramatically different.

  1. First, Ponda Baba and Doctor Evazan pick a fight with Luke. It escalates, and Ponda Baba pulls a blaster, but before he can shoot, Obi-Wan cuts off his arm with a lightsaber. When this happens, the bartender literally dives to the floor, while shouting "No blasters!" (according to the subtitles).

  2. Later, Greedo confronts Han at a table - with his blaster out and pointed at Han from the very beginning. Nobody seems to notice or care. Eventually, they both shoot and Greedo dies. As Han leaves, he tosses a coin to the bartender, who seems to have barely taken notice.

Are my subtitles wrong? Did the bartender actually react to the lightsaber and not the blaster when he dove behind the bar?

Or are blasters actually forbidden? And somehow nobody noticed Greedo's blaster, and the shots were such a surprise that nobody had a chance to react?

  • 7
    My guess would be that Greedo and Han are known associates of Jabba and the bartender actively ignores the dealings of the local crime boss. – Nolimon Jun 8 at 2:40
  • It's possible that it's the first time that a lightsaber had been used anywhere for many years, possibly the bartender mistook the kinda flashing of a lightsaber being swung for the discharge of a powerful blaster shot – SpacePhoenix Jun 8 at 6:46
6

Wuher the Bartender doesn't seem to like indiscriminate violence (bad for business) but he seems relatively sanguine about the occasional fight, especially one that's over so quickly.

The crowd edged back farther, a few grunts and warning snorts coming from some of them as the drunken monstrosity pulled a wicked-looking pistol from its service pouch. He started to wave it in Kenobi’s direction.
That spurred the heretofore neutral bartender to life. He came charging clumsily around the end of the bar, waving his hands frantically but still taking care to stay out of range.
“No blasters, no blasters! Not in my place!”
The rodent thing chattered threateningly at him, while the weapon-wielding many-eye spared him a warning grunt.

A New Hope - Official Novelisation

Drunken "brawlers" are also unwelcome, but I think we can assume that all is forgiven the following morning.

D’an was furious and stopped the song while he called for Wuher to help out. The bartender threw both brawlers out, but then fixed us with a grungy eye.

From a Certain Point of View: Not for Nothing

As to why he didn't throw Ben Kenobi out, we learn (retcon) that Wuher had his suspicions that Ben was a Jedi and Wuher owed his life to the Jedi Order from an incident that occurred during the Clone War.

I know they messed with the wrong farmboy, because that farmboy had a friend: a hermit who up until now was just that, just a hermit. But I think he was more than a hermit. I think he was a Jedi of old. I thought they were dead and gone, the Jedi. They once saved my life, those Jedi, saved me from a whole battalion of dirty droids. So I’m inclined to give this one a pass. And you should, too.

From a Certain Point of View: Not for Nothing

1

The rule is just what the bartender says as he dives behind the bar: No blasters! No blasters! (If you are listening for it, and have the volume up at a good level, it is easy to hear him say it.) This means that using blasters in a fight is against the rules, although people are evidently free to carry their weapons into the establishment. Presumably, there are also rules against other forms of violence (such as explosives) that might hurt bystanders or damage the bar. Whether they technically also apply to a light saber ("an elegant weapon") is less clear.

In principle, the owner's rules probably forbid waving a blaster around the way Greedo does, but there is no visible objection from anyone when the bounty hunter does it. Maybe the bartender did not notice Greedo with the blaster; Han and his Rodian enemy are a lot further from the bar when they face off than Luke, Ben, Doctor Cornelius, and Ponda Baba were when they go into their quarrel. Greedo also keeps his weapon relatively low and close to his vest, not that visible. Alternatively, Greedo is probably a familiar patron at the ! Cantina, and it may be known that, while he likes to wave his blaster around, he does not actually shoot anybody.

After Han shoots Greedo, he pays for the damage and exits, leaving Greedo's corpse behind. The fighting is clearly over, and apart from the damage done to the table (which Han just paid for), there is no longer any cause for worry. This is very similar to what happens after Luke's and Ben's fight. There are a few seconds of alarm, and then, because the aggressors are dead and the fighting is clearly over, everybody in the cantina just gets back to what they were doing.

  • 4
    "and it may be known that, while he likes to wave his blaster around, he does not actually shoot anybody." - Oh, this is getting into contentious territory. – Kevin Jun 8 at 0:49

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