There is a very simple answer to Alec Baldwin’s repeated question after he accidentally shot a crew member.
The actor-producer kept asking, “What the fuck … just happened?”
What happened was undeniable: every basic common sense weapon safety rule had been violated.
The first principles of safe gun handling are:
– Always assume that the gun is loaded.
– Never point the pistol at something that you do not want to hit with a bullet.
– Keep your finger on the trigger until you want to fire.
My father instructed my brother and me rigorously on these principles one Christmas, a long time ago, when he handed us our first shotguns: 22 caliber bolt action single-shot rifles. First there was a lecture, then the three of us walked behind the garage at our little citrus ranch in Ojai, set up a pile of logs, and we boys practiced safe shooting.
Baldwin must have not learned his lesson, as did key crew members on the set of his film Rust near Santa Fe, New Mexico.
Or maybe they arrogantly assumed that such rules didn’t apply to the movie set because the gun behaves differently there than in the real world. No, firearms are everywhere – the same deadly weapon.
Baldwin rehearsed a gunfight scene while playing a criminal in Kansas in the 1880s. He pulled from its holster a loaded .45 Colt revolver, which he was told was “cold” – unloaded – and fired. A lead bullet killed 42-year-old cinematographer Halina Hutchins, impaling her and wounding 48-year-old director Joel Sousa.
Baldwin apparently did not check the chamber of the revolver himself, nor did the assistant director who handed it to him.
The actor-producer and crew members not only disregarded recognized and applied gun safety rules, but also violated the strict rules of the film industry.
The first paragraph of the industry-specific Security Bulletin No. 1 reads in capital letters:
“BLOCKS CAN KILL. HANDLE ALL WEAPONS WHEN LOADED. “LIVE AMMUNITION” IS NEVER FOR USE OR TRANSMISSION AT ANY STUDIO OR STAGE “.
The bulletin prepared by the trade union committee includes a list of 19 rules, including: “Do not point a firearm at anyone, including yourself…. NEVER place your finger on the trigger until you are ready to fire…. Know where and what your intended goal is. “
But Security Bulletin # 2 allows for the possible use of real bullets. It reads: “Maybe very rare case when “LIVING AMMUNITION EQUIPMENT” must be used to get the effect. ” It lists several safety criteria.
There was no such case on the set of Rust. And no one has publicly explained how the live rounds ended up in Baldwin’s revolver or among the roughly 500 rounds and empty rounds seized by investigators.
State Senator Dave Cortese (Democrat from San Jose), chairman of the Senate Labor Committee, announced that he would promote legislation that would ban not only live ammunition, but also serviceable weapons on film sets in California.
“Those who work behind the scenes to entertain and delight millions of people around the world do not have to go to set worrying about whether they will safely return home to their family,” he said in a statement. “Our entertainment industry needs to do a better job of providing safe working conditions for crews.”
Among the crew members of the “Rust” there were complaints about the safety of workers.
When the paparazzi tracked down Baldwin a few days after the October 21 tragedy, he described it as “a one trillion episode.”
Not really. In recent years, there have been other accidental deaths from firearms on set.
Cortese disputes Baldwin’s characterization.
“It was not an accident. It was a series of five or six mistakes, ”the deputy says. “This is not an accident. You only have one chance with a weapon. You can’t handle firearms carelessly and take risks. “
Cortese’s bill prohibits all ammunition pistols from being shown on set.
“People say,“ What’s wrong with spaces? “If a firearm can fire a blank shot, it can fire a bullet,” he says.
Be that as it may, the blanks were killed on the set.
“Real weapons should no longer be used as support,” Cortese continued. “If they want a guy who shoots a firearm, they need to go to the shooting range.”
One longtime cast member who didn’t want to be called a critic of her industry told me that these days there is no reason to even have blanks in filmmaking. Sound and visual explosions can be duplicated using technology.
Cortese calls industry-specific gun safety regulations a “paper tiger” because, as Rust has proven, it’s too easy to ignore. “You need a state fine.”
The legislator does not want to add its own prohibitions on serviceable weapons and live ammunition to the criminal code. He would like them to be executed by the state labor commissioner in accordance with the Occupational Safety and Health Act.
Member of Parliament Sharon Quirk-Silva (D-Fullerton) is not convinced that the state should intervene. She is the Chair of the Assembly’s Arts and Entertainment Committee.
“Sometimes we legislators want to solve a problem immediately, but everything has to start at the negotiating table with union and film representatives,” she says.
Quirk-Silva says she supports former Governor Jerry Brown’s dogma: “Not every problem deserves a solution.”
But Rust demonstrated the need for tighter gun control on set. Cortese’s ideas make sense.
At the very least, every actor and crew member must complete a firearm safety course.