The investigation into actor Alec Baldwin’s inadvertent shooting of the cinematographer and director of the independent movie Rust is still underway, and there are several unresolved questions still to be answered, but it’s clear from the interviews with cast members and crew that have emerged that there were some serious issues with safety protocols that, if followed, would have prevented Baldwin’s revolver from ever firing a live round last week. There are reports that crew members were using some of the film’s firearms for target shooting, which is a gigantic red flag. There are also indications that Baldwin was handed the gun after being told that it was “cold,” meaning no blanks or live ammunition were in the revolver’s chamber.
It also appears that Baldwin did not himself check to see that the revolver was empty before he began practicing drawing the gun and pointing it at the camera where Halyna Hutchins and Joel Souza were checking the shot. That may or may not be part of the standard safety protocol on a movie set, but one of the cardinal rules of gun safety is to always treat the firearm as if it’s loaded. From the reports that have come to light so far, it appears very few people on the set had that mentality.
Tragedies like this are exceedingly rare in Hollywood, again because there are protocols that, if followed, eliminate the risk of a negligent discharge. That doesn’t matter to California State Sen. Dave Cortese, however. The Democrat says it’s time to ban all firearms and live ammunition from movie sets.
“There is an urgent need to address alarming work abuses and safety violations occurring on the set of theatrical productions, including unnecessary high-risk conditions such as the use of live firearms,” Cortese said.
Using a real firearm as a blank-firing prop gun is only a safety concern when the proper procedures and protocols aren’t followed. Thousands of movie and television productions are filmed each year using real firearms and blank ammunition without any problem whatsoever. In fact, one of the reasons why the Baldwin story is still front page news several days after he fired the fatal shot that killed Hutchins and wounded Souza is because incidents like this are so rare and uncommon.
“It is important that California establish new safety standards and best practices for all those who work in the industry and particularly in our own state,” Cortese added. “Our entertainment industry must do a better job of ensuring safe working conditions for our hardworking crews.”