Actor Alec Baldwin is calling for police officers to be present on film sets as a means to improve weapons safety, weeks after a fatal shooting of his colleague.
“Every film/TV set that uses guns, fake or otherwise, should have a police officer on set, hired by the production, to specifically monitor weapons safety,” he wrote on Instagram on Monday.
Weapons safety on set is normally the domain of an armorer or a firearms specialist. The armorer ensures they look realistic and are appropriate for the setting of the film and most importantly, the armorer is tasked with making sure the weapons are clean, correctly loaded, properly kept up and safely handled. However, there is usually little formal training required to become one.
An affidavit filed by a Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Office detective states that Hannah Gutierrez, the armorer on set for the “Rust” film, had set up three prop guns in a gray cart before the shooting. Assistant director Dave Halls, handed the weapon to Baldwin and yelled, “Cold gun!” — an industry term to indicate that it did not contain a live round. According to the affidavit, he was mistaken.
Santa Fe County Sheriff Adan Mendoza has said that a “lead projectile” had been recovered from director Souza’s shoulder, and a central concern remains for authorities to determine how a live round wound up in the .45 Long Colt revolver that Baldwin discharged.
The fatal incident has sparked an investigation, global headlines and placed renewed scrutiny on Hollywood and the role of firearms on set. While some producers insist on using prop guns with blanks to closely capture the sound and look of a real gun firing, others have been calling for them to be banished from film sets, saying that computer-generated imaging offers a safer alternative. Last week, high-profile actor Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson stated that he will no longer use real guns on any TV shows or movies his production company handles.
In the aftermath of the incident, Baldwin has said in social media posts that his “heart is broken” and called the incident a “tragic accident” that took the life of a “deeply admired colleague.” He also said that he was fully cooperating with the police investigation and was in touch with Hutchins family.
Baldwin, 63, is an A-lister who has appeared in films including “Working Girl” and “The Departed.” He earned an Emmy in 2017 for his role parodying President Donald Trump on “Saturday Night Live.”
Former “Rust” crew members and their attorneys have since spoken out about what they believe were shortcomings on the New Mexico set of the low-budget production at Bonanza Creek Ranch, a popular filming location near Santa Fe.
A first camera assistant, Lane Luper, who resigned the day before Hutchins was killed, has spoken to journalists about concerns he had over relaxed covid-19 policies, a housing situation requiring crew members to drive lengthy distances and a lack of gun safety on set. Other producers have denied Luper’s allegations, asserting that he would have had no knowledge of safety protocols on set.
It remains unclear if filming on “Rust” will continue. The movie follows a 13-year-old boy and his younger brother in 1880s Kansas who are left to care for themselves following their parents’ deaths. The boys go on the run with their estranged grandfather, played by Baldwin, after the 13-year-old is sentenced to death for accidentally killing a local rancher.
The Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Office is investigating the incident and no charges have yet been filed.