The authorities in New Mexico who are investigating the accidental shooting death of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins by Alec Baldwin still aren’t releasing many details coming out of their inquiries, but the actors and crew members who were there have been singing like canaries to members of the press and new details seem to emerge every day. If you haven’t already heard about how many things went wrong with the “prop gun” that was used by Baldwin in the week leading up to the shooting, go read Allahpundit’s last entry first. A picture is painted of a movie set where everything that could conceivably have gone wrong managed to do so, at least in terms of the armorer and the firearms being used.
Now, however, even more alarming stories have emerged about the frightening lack of gun sense and awareness on Baldwin’s set. The New York Post reports that the gun in question wasn’t spending all of its time stored in a gun safe when not required on the set. Sources associated with the production report that members of the crew had been taking the weapon out for “target practice” in the desert when they weren’t filming. Tell me again how you take a “prop gun” out for target practice, please.
The prop gun that killed cinematographer Halyna Hutchins on a New Mexico movie set had been used by crew members offsite for fun, a new report claims.
The gun, which was fired by Alec Baldwin on the set of the movie “Rust,” may have even been loaded with live rounds when it was used for what was essentially target practice, TMZ reported.
Multiple sources connected to the production of the film told TMZ that the gun was fired at off-the-clock gatherings – which could explain how a live round found its way into the gun’s chamber.
The TMZ report where this latest news originated can be found here. If you want to take something coming from an unnamed source talking to TMZ with a grain of salt, that’s your decision to make. But given how much awful news has been coming from multiple sources involved with the film’s production, given to multiple media outlets, this doesn’t seem like much of a stretch of the imagination at all.
The source went on to state that following the target practice sessions, the police found live ammo alongside blank rounds stored in the same area. Like so many other failures by the crew, that should have been a violation of the most basic safety rules and could have contributed to how Baldwin wound up with a hot gun in his hands. As Allahpundit pointed out yesterday, one expert armorer once shut down an entire set because someone brought live rounds in for a scene where an actor just had to pick up those rounds off the ground. Simply having live rounds in the vicinity was considered too great of a risk, but these guys had both types stored together.
Plenty of attention has already been focused on Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, the rookie “armorer” from this film crew, but now a new detail is being reported. It’s claimed that she previously gave an unchecked weapon to an eleven-year-old actress during a previous gig.
The “inexperienced” armorer in charge of weapons on set of Alec Baldwin’s movie “Rust” had given a gun to an 11-year-old actress without checking properly for safety, a report said…
Gutierrez-Reed’s alleged misstep happened on the set of the upcoming Nicholas Cage film, “The Old Way” and temporarily halted filming, sources told The Daily Beast.
“She was reloading the gun on the ground, where there were pebbles and stuff,” one source told the outlet. “We didn’t see her check it, we didn’t know if something got in the barrel or not.”
Gutierrez-Reed reportedly handed the gun to child actress Ryan Kiera Armstrong, forcing concerned crew members to intervene, the report said. The gun was then checked for barrel obstruction, according to the sources.
We don’t need to spend any more time this morning discussing all of the ways that everything went so spectacularly wrong on that movie set, resulting in a death that should have been 100% avoidable if only one of the dozens of mandatory safety precautions had been properly observed. Instead, I just wanted to take a moment to get back to the entire “prop gun” issue that’s been discussed since this all began. There has been speculation that the weapon actually was a “prop,” meaning it wasn’t capable of functioning as a real firearm. We’ve also heard suggestions that the “prop” gun had “misfired.” I think we now have enough information to conclude that none of those earlier suspicions have been confirmed.
That gun was being repeatedly loaded with live ammunition and fired, both on and off the set. That means it wasn’t a “prop” in any sense beyond the fact that it was being used on a movie set. It was an actual firearm. Even if it had been a toy gun, you still wouldn’t point it at a human being or pull the trigger. But this was a real handgun. Given the period the movie is set in, it was most likely a revolver along the lines of a Colt .45 Peacemaker. That firearm is not only not a toy, it’s also not a joke in any sense of the word. If you happen to get shot in the torso at close range with one of those you will very likely die.
Having had the pleasure of test-firing a Peacemaker at a gun show some years ago, I will offer my amateur opinion that the weapon is highly unlikely to “misfire.” Or if it does because it’s defective, it won’t do it twice in a row. It relies on there being a live round in the chamber of the cylinder that’s lined up with the barrel and the hammer being drawn back and released, striking the primer and causing ignition, firing the round. With the hammer in the down position, you can do this by pulling the trigger, but you really have to apply some force to it to draw it back. If the weapon is “cocked” (with the hammer locked in the drawn back position) you could readily discharge it with a light brush against the trigger, but that would only happen once, not twice.
We will hopefully get official confirmation of all of these details when the investigation concludes and I may well be proven wrong. But at least for the moment, that’s how all of the available data reads to me. Those people weren’t using props. They were using at least one very real handgun and they were mixing blanks and live ammo on the set. The people (plural) responsible for proper storage of both the weapon and both types of ammunition, as well as the person responsible for inspecting the weapon for safety purposes before handing it to an actor all failed in their responsibilities miserably. And now a woman is dead because of it and a man is in the hospital. Somebody will need to be held accountable. I’m not saying that this tragic event wasn’t still an “accident.” It absolutely seems to have been. But that doesn’t mean that professionals who should have known better can’t be held liable.