California gun crackdown avoids entertainment industry

Over the past couple of months, California lawmakers have approved nearly a dozen gun control measures aimed at legal gun owners or the firearms industry. At the same time, however, the Democrats in control in Sacramento have failed to pass any legislation imposing safety regulations or requirements when it comes to firearms and the entertainment industry.. despite the fact that industry groups from the Directors Guild to the Motion Picture Association have supposedly been lobbying in favor of competing proposals.

For a time after cinematographer Helyna Hutchins was shot and killed on the set of the movie “Rust” by actor Alec Baldwin, it seemed like Hollywood was going to impose new standards for firearms safety on movie and television production sets on its own volition. Celebrities like Dwayne Johnson proclaimed they would no longer use prop guns, and industry groups started weighing in on potential changes as well. Lawmakers in Sacramento proposed a pair of similar bills imposing new safety standards on film and television production, but while the differences in two pieces of legislation were fairly modest, two opposing factions quickly formed in Los Angeles.

The Directors Guild of America and the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees ended up backing SB 831, while the Motion Picture Association lobbied in favor of SB 829. Both bills would have imposed new regulations on the use of prop guns and would have required additional staffers to be on hand; a “set safety supervisor” under SB 831 and a fire code official in the case of SB 829.

Unlike gun control bills, which are routinely approved by California lawmakers over the objections of individual gun owners and the firearms industry, California lawmakers wanted the entertainment industry to have a say in the new regulations, and when the industry itself couldn’t come to an agreement lawmakers decided to punt on the issue instead of imposing their own standards.

In May, state Sen. Anthony Portantino (D-La Cañada Flintridge) held back two dueling bills that had been making their way through the Legislature and asked the two sides to find consensus. Earlier this week, there were final hour meetings between the unions and the Motion Picture Assn. in an attempt to agree on terms before time ran out for this legislative session, a person close to the talks said. However, the two sides couldn’t agree in the required time, the MPA confirmed to The Times.

“The Motion Picture Association and our member studios remain committed to enhanced firearm safety and training programs, and we are thankful to Senator Portantino for his leadership on this issue,” Melissa Patack, vice president of state government affairs at the MPA, said in a statement.

Portantino said the two sides were not far apart.

“While I believe both sides came close to an agreement, we were not able to come up with a plan that ultimately had consensus,” Portantino said in a statement to The Times. “I remain committed to finding a solution and continuing my role as an honest broker as the discussions move to the fall. This is too important of an issue to force a resolution through the process.”

In essence, Portantino and other California Democrats allowed the entertainment industry to write its own law governing on-set safety protocols, and when the various factions couldn’t come to terms lawmakers simply threw up their hands and said they’ll try again next year. What an amazing departure from how the California legislature generally treats anything that has the slightest connection to firearms; lawmakers claiming to know what’s best and disregarding or never bothering to ask the firearms industry, Second Amendment organizations, or individual gun owners their opinions.

Of course, the entertainment industry gives a lot more campaign cash to California Democrats than the firearms industry ever will, which helps to explain  why California’s nanny-state government is willing to take such a hands-off approach when it comes to telling Hollywood and firearms safety protocols. Meanwhile, the entertainment industry itself managed to run out the clock on the legislative session and can now kick this can down the road for a few months. When and if the industry is ready to act, Democratic legislators will be more than happy to run with Hollywood’s self-imposed rules… and in the meantime they’ve got plenty of items on their anti-gun “to-do” list queued up as soon as the next legislative session begins.