According to a gun expert who works in Hollywood, actor Alec Baldwin was violating one of the most foundational, fundamental gun safety rules that exists when he reportedly accidentally shot Halyna Hutchins last week.
“Loaded or unloaded, a weapon never gets pointed at another human being,” firearms consultant Bryan Carpenter who works for Dark Thirty Film Services stated during a conversation with The New York Post. “You never let the muzzle of a weapon cover something you don’t intend to destroy.”
“All guns are always loaded. Even if they are not, treat them as if they are,” he then said.
Baldwin shot and killed Hutchins and wounded director Joel Souza last Thursday while filming his new movie, “Rust,” a western, during the rehearsal of a scene where he points the gun at the camera. The gun then discharged unexpectedly, according to information that was included in a police affidavit.
The movie is being shot at Bonanza Creek Ranch, which is located close to Santa Fe, New Mexico.
Peter Lake, a former filmmaker and former member of the U.S. National Shooting Team, said that Baldwin bears the blame for the tragedy.
“The buck stops with Alec Baldwin on every level,” Lake went on to say. “It looks very bad for him. At least the captain of the Titanic had the good sense to go down with the ship.”
Baldwin could be in legal trouble over the shooting, but how much is up for debate and may rely on facts about the incident yet to be uncovered. As attorney Jonathan Turley, a professor at George Washington University Law School, argued in a Fox News op-ed:
If true, Baldwin had little reason as an actor to suspect anything was wrong with the prop. The problem is that Baldwin was not simply an actor. He was also one of the producers on a site that had reportedly experienced prior discharges and complaints about site safety.
New Mexico has a provision that allows “involuntary manslaughter” charges for “the commission of a lawful act which might produce death in an unlawful manner or without due caution and circumspection.” If there was a pattern of neglect, including prior discharges from these prop weapons, the producers could be charged with involuntary manslaughter. Such a charge is a fourth-degree felony in New Mexico, with a penalty of 18 months jail time and up to $5,000 in fines.
“The difficulty for criminal defense attorneys in dealing with such charges is that they do not require “specific intent.” Given prior deaths from prop guns (as with Brandon Lee in the movie “The Crow”), the danger of a fatal mistake was foreseeable. However, such charges are rare and unlikely in this case absent stronger evidence of knowledge or involvement by Baldwin in the preparation or handling of these props,” the Fox News report stated.
Last Friday, one day after the shooting, Baldwin put out a statement through his charity, the Hilaria and Alec Baldwin Foundation, saying, “There are no words to convey my shock and sadness regarding the tragic accident that took the life of Halyna Hutchins, a wife, mother and deeply admired colleague of ours. I’m fully cooperating with the police investigation to address how this tragedy occurred and I am in touch with her husband, offering my support to him and his family. My heart is broken for her husband, their son, and all who knew and loved Halyna.”
This is truly an awful situation for all people involved. If this gun expert is correct, then Baldwin might be facing some serious consequences for what happened on the set of this film.
One has to wonder what, if any, impact this will have on the completion of the film and on the actor’s career.