The “Rust” set shooting raises questions about gun safety on movie sets

How safe are prop weapons on movie sets?

Maria Hickman, Managing Editor

Imagine going into your job only to come out with one person dead and the blood is on your hands. Unfortunately this is true for actor Alec Baldwin, who on October 21 discharged a gun on the set of his new movie “Rust” killing cinematographer Halyna Hutchins and injuring director Joel Souza. Baldwin was told the gun had no ammunition and was safe to use. However, this is not the first incident surrounding a gun or safety issues on the “Rust” set. 

Many of the crew members complained about having long hours and commutes and not getting paid on top of many safety issues. According to the “Los Angeles Times” Baldwin wasn’t the first to accidentally fire a gun, “Baldwin’s stunt double accidentally fired two rounds Saturday after being told that the gun was “cold” — lingo for a weapon that doesn’t have any ammunition, including blanks.” Baldwin was told the same information about the gun he was firing. The same article mentions that multiple crew workers walked off the set the day that Baldwin fired the gun to protest the working conditions.

Even more concerning is that Baldwin was handed the gun by assistant director David Halls. Halls had previously worked on a movie called “The Crow” that according to the “New York Times” actor Brandon Lee was shot and killed by a gun that was supposed to contain only blanks. For something like this to happen once is an accident, but twice is a problem and Halls should be invested closer. Halls did not check to see if the gun was safe as reported by “AP News:” “However Halls obtained the weapon before giving it to Baldwin, he failed to fully check it. Normally… he would examine the barrel for obstructions and have Gutierrez Reed open the hatch and spin the drum where the bullets go, confirming none of the rounds is live. This time, he reported, he could only remember seeing three of the rounds, and he didn’t remember if the armorer had spun the drum. Nevertheless, he yelled out “cold gun” to indicate it was safe to use.”

It is important to know that Baldwin is just as much a victim in this. He was told the gun was safe to fire and now has to live with the fact that he killed a person. Baldwin wrote this on “Twitter” about the incident, “There are no words to convey my shock and sadness regarding the tragic accident that took the life of Halyna Hutchins… I’m fully cooperating with the police investigation to address how this tragedy occurred…”

The issue of gun safety on movie sets has been ongoing and more people now than ever want to see a change. Many individuals believe that if a gun is going to be used on a set someone with training on how to use it properly and safely should be on set to supervise. Others wonder why we even need to have loaded guns on sets in the first place. With the advancements we have made in the movie-making industry we should be able to digitally put in the bullets coming out of the gun that way no one on the set is worried about getting hit by a stray bullet. 

This was a tragic accident that no one should have to go through ever again and hopefully people learn from this. This should have never happened in the first place, but now that it did we should take the opportunity to learn from our mistakes and do better to create a safer environment for everyone working on movie sets.