ANALYSIS – From the moment news broke that actor and outspoken anti-gun liberal, Alec Baldwin had accidentally shot and killed a crew member on the movie set for his troubled, low-budget western-themed film, ‘Rust,’ opinions and spin have been flying fast from every direction.
It was clear that the Baldwin PR machine quickly moved to focus the blame on anyone but Baldwin.
First the focus was on the young, inexperienced set ‘armorer’ Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, who in fact is responsible for gun safety. She should have checked and cleared the gun – declaring it ‘cold’ before allowing it to be handled by anyone on set.
I wrote about that in my initial piece.
Following that, focus has also been directed at Assistant Director Dave Halls, who is also responsible for safety on the set, and reportedly handed Baldwin the loaded gun used in the fateful scene.
He says he believed it was ‘cold.’
Then there is the prop master who is also responsible for gun safety.
While there are mixed reports about the details involved in the gun’s handling, all of these persons are the most responsible for gun safety on set.
Meanwhile, almost every gun owner in America has been opining that Baldwin is ultimately responsible because he violated the basic rules of gun safety — not checking the gun to see if it was loaded and pointing at a person he didn’t intend to shoot.
As a gun owner and former Marine Corps officer the gun safety rules are part of my DNA, but how well do they apply to an actor on the set of a movie?
My take has been that actors are given prop guns to use. Sometimes the prop guns are fake, other times they are real but modified to only fire blanks.
In this case the gun was a real old western revolver. And it was supposed to be loaded with fake bullets (dummy rounds) that look real but have the gunpowder removed with small holes in the casing. However, at least the one bullet fired turned out to be real.
Even if trained in gun safety, how is an actor supposed to check a revolver to see if each individual bullet is fake or real? Or if there is an obstruction in the barrel?
I don’t have an answer to that, and though I’m not an attorney, it’s likely one of the biggest reasons I think Baldwin can use that as a factor in mitigating any culpability for firing the deadly round.
But Baldwin shouldn’t get off that easily.
The biggest issue to me as I noted in my earlier piece is – why were there live rounds on set? Why were crew members firing this gun with live rounds for fun earlier? Why were there earlier reported accidental gun discharge incidents on the set?
To me this is all outrageous, unprofessional, and possibly criminal. Conditions on set were clearly unsafe.
There is no place for live rounds on a movie set. And Santa Fe police said they found 500 rounds, including live rounds, blanks, and dummy rounds on set.
And there is no place for idiotic crew members to be firing guns used in the movie with live rounds.
While he may not be ultimately charged with manslaughter, as a Producer of this film, Alec Baldwin bears responsibility for allowing the horribly unprofessional and unsafe conditions on the set which ultimately led to the death of the cinematographer Halyna Hutchins.
It was Baldwin’s movie after all. The buck should stop with him. ADN