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Star Wars' Deadliest Guns Are So Powerful They're Banned

The Star Wars universe has a sizable arsenal of famous weapons, from the lightsaber and electrostaff to the many iconic varieties of blaster. However, blasters aren't the only kind of gun that features prominently in the franchise. There are also slugthrowers — the in-universe name for weapons that fire physical projectiles — and disruptors, which are so powerful and brutal they're illegal in most parts of the galaxy.

At a glance, disruptors look very similar to any other kind of blaster. And while both are energy-based projectile weapons, disruptors have some key differences in canon. In essence, where a blaster bolt is more a concentrated burst of propulsive energy, a blast from a disruptor triggers a breakdown of matter on an atomic level, disintegrating whatever's in its path. As explained by Sabine Wren in "Star Wars Rebels," this quality made disruptors incredibly dangerous to use on starships. However, the reason that they were outlawed by the Empire and banned from use within the Rebel Alliance is more sinister.

Disruptors were outlawed for being too violent

"Star Wars Rebels" reveals that disruptors were used during the Empire's genocide of the Lasat, prompting an outcry from the general public due to the military campaign's brutality and high visibility. Because they disintegrate their targets, disruptors cause extremely painful deaths. The Imperial Senate voted to ban the weapons after the genocide on Lasan, similar to real-world international restrictions on weapons like white phosphorus or chemical weapons like mustard gas. Of course, that doesn't stop the Imperial military from using disruptors from time to time. Agents of fascism rarely care about obeying their own rules, after all.

The violent nature of disruptors is alluded to in the original "Star Wars" trilogy, placing the origins of the weapons' brutal reputation all the way back when "The Empire Strikes Back" came out in 1980. Old "Star Wars" Expanded Universe, or "Legends," texts explain that disruptors — which are a bit different in that continuity but mostly the same — were often used by bounty hunters and other underworld figures. This is likely what Darth Vader is alluding to in the film when he commands Boba Fett to bring Han Solo in alive, with "no disintegrations."