Alec Baldwin: I didn't pull the trigger

Alec Baldwin: I didn't pull the trigger
AP Photo/Jae C. Hong

ABC will air an interview this evening with Alec Baldwin, the first that he’s granted since the shooting on the set of his movie Rust. The actor spoke with George Stephanopoulos and answered some questions about the shooting and it sounds as if his story has changed a bit since the first reports about the accident emerged. The biggest item that’s been released so far is that Baldwin reportedly told Stephanopoulos that he “didn’t pull the trigger.” He also claims that he would “never” point a gun at anyone and pull the trigger. He further said that he has “no idea” how a live round wound up in the revolver. That last part at least sounds believable, but the rest of the story presents some obvious questions. (NY Post)

Alec Baldwin is insisting he “didn’t pull the trigger” on the gun that killed a cinematographer and wounded the director on the New Mexico set of his film “Rust.”

In his first interview since the deadly Oct. 21 shooting, a tearful Baldwin told ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos he has “no idea” how the live bullet ended up in the firearm.

“The trigger wasn’t pulled. I didn’t pull the trigger,” Baldwin said in a preview clip of the interview released on Wednesday.

“I would never point a gun at anyone and pull the trigger at them, never,” he said.

On a quick search, I didn’t find a useful clip of Baldwin firing a weapon at anyone in any of his movies (though I’m pretty confident such clips exist). But in terms of pointing guns, here’s one of the promotional images from his 1994 film, The Getaway. (Click for full-size image.) But let’s not dwell on the past.


I’m not sure how carefully Baldwin was parsing his words during that particular answer so it’s possible he merits a bit of the benefit of the doubt. Note that he said, “I would never point a gun at anyone and pull the trigger at them.” Obviously the revolver was pointed at the crew when it went off, otherwise, we wouldn’t have had two people struck by the bullet. And it’s already been established that Baldwin had been practicing his “cross draw” technique inside of the church at the time of the incident.

If he’s trying to say that he didn’t pull the trigger, he’s at least heavily implying that the Colt revolver fired in some other fashion. But when you consider the construction and operation of that sort of revolver, how else would it have fired? You actually have to apply some considerable pressure to the trigger to draw back and release the hammer. The exception might be if the hammer was in the cocked position in the holster, in which case the first round could be fired far more easily. But if that’s the case, it’s something of a miracle that it hadn’t already discharged while he was practicing.

Perhaps he’s implying that he didn’t intentionally pull the trigger? But even then, proper firearms handling rules would dictate that his finger should never have been inside the trigger guard. The idea that the trigger accidentally caught on his clothing or some other obstacle while drawing it seems like a non-starter because then it wouldn’t have been pointed at the crew yet.

I find myself already wondering if Baldwin isn’t trying to set himself up with a preemptive defense here. No charges have been filed in this case yet, but officials haven’t taken that possibility off the table. If the actor can convince everyone that the Colt revolver just magically fired on its own with no help from him, that might be very beneficial to his defense if he does wind up facing some sort of charge. But as I mentioned above, the idea of an uncocked Colt revolver accidentally discharging out of the blue seems rather far-fetched.

I don’t want to leave our readers with the impression that I’m suggesting this shooting was anything other than an accident, albeit one that was made possible by a massive series of missteps and violations of firearm safety protocols. There’s simply nothing at this point that would suggest Baldwin intended to shoot anyone that day, and if he actually did have violent intentions he’d have to be just about one of the stupidest people on the planet to do it under those circumstances. The real question that the investigators will need to get to the bottom of is how the live round wound up in the chamber in the first place. Baldwin claims he has no idea and that may well prove to be true.

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David Strom 5:21 PM on March 31, 2023