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The UK's Jedi community today expressed concerns that government plans to ban Samurai swords could hinder their freedom to wield lightsabres in public.

The UK's Home Office today issued a consultation paper ahead of legislation intended to ban Samurai blades by the end of the year. In a bid to "protect the public", replica Samurai swords will become illegal to import, sell and hire in Britain.

Breaching the new rules could mean six months in prison, and a £5,000 fine. Anyone carrying such a weapon in public could faces up to four years in prison, the consultation paper suggests.

The paper notes that genuine Samurai swords would not attract the same penalties, and there are also exemptions for other specific martial arts weapons. "We recognise it is the cheap, easily available Samurai swords which are being used in crime and not the genuine, more expensive samurai swords which are of interest to collectors and martial art enthusiasts," Home Office Minister Vernon Coaker. "As such as we are putting forward exemptions for these groups."

The key word here is 'replica'. No one has yet built a working lightsabre, leaving the UK's would-be Obi-Wans inevitably having to wield plastic, flick-of-the-wrist-to-extend weapons in duels with Sith Lords, remotes and, occasionally, each other.

But Jedi fear that the Samurai ban would leave them exposed to future legislation against other forms of imitation weaponry that would, Jedi Temple (Neasden) spokesman Indi-Anna Jones warned today.

"The Samurai sword ban is only the first step toward compulsory lightsabre confiscations," he said. "Everyone knows George Lucas based his series on the Japanese film The Seven Samurai - the Jedi will be next."

However, not all the 390,000 British Jedi fear* the government's reforms.

"The propsals' suggested exemptions for groups such as the British Kendo Association should give us a loophole," claimed UK Jedi Bus-Qyu Simpson. "These exemptions cover swords made in Japan before the existing licensing regime came into force in 1953 or those made by licensed Japanese swordsmiths since that time.

"Everyone knows Jedi-hood is an 'ancient religion', founded long ago in a galaxy far, far away, so it should be safe from this legislation," he said. ®

*Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering...

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