A California senator has called for a ban on live ammunition on film sets and theatrical productions following the death of filmmaker Halina Hutchins on Thursday with a rifle fired by actor Alec Baldwin on set in New Mexico.
Senator Dave Cortese (Democrat from San Jose), chairman of the Senate Labor Committee, said he would introduce legislation that would ban live ammunition and firearms capable of firing live ammunition from California film sets and theatrical productions. With the Legislature now on hiatus, details of any bill are unlikely to be available until January.
“There is an urgent need to address alarming workplace abuses and safety violations occurring on the set of theatrical productions, including unnecessary high-risk conditions such as the use of military firearms,” Cortese said in a statement.
“It is important that California sets new safety standards and best practices for everyone in this industry, and especially in our own state,” he said. “Those who work behind the scenes to entertain and delight millions of people around the world need not worry about returning safe and sound to their families. Our entertainment industry must better provide a safe working environment for our hard-working teams.
“I intend to pass a law prohibiting live ammunition from filming in California in order to prevent senseless violence and loss of life,” he continued. “I offer my full support to the family of Ms. Galina Hutchins at this time of tragic loss.”
Hutchins, 42, has worked on indie films such as Nemesis, Blind Fire and The Mad Hatter, and was selected as one of American Cinematographer magazine’s rising stars for 2019. She was working on the western “Rust,” starring and producing Baldwin when she was shot.
In her honor, the American Film Institute established the Galina Hutchins Memorial Scholarship Fund. “As deeply true in the art of cinematography, words alone cannot describe the loss of a person so dear to the AFI community,” reads a statement on its website. “At AFI, we are committed to ensuring that Galina Hutchins continues to live in the spirit of all who seek to realize their dreams in the stories we tell.”
Joel Sousa, director of Rust, was injured in Thursday’s incident and taken to Santa Fe Hospital, but has since been discharged.
A spokesman for Baldwin said there was an accident on set involving a missed blank pistol, although it was unclear how this could have happened, even though protocols for the use of weapons and support weapons on set are usually strict.
The popular ABC TV show “Newbie” announced on Friday that it has banned real gun shooting on the show.