Yes, Alec Baldwin Could Be Charged Criminally in the “Rust” Shooting But…

We previously discussed criminal and civil liability for the tragic shooting of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins on the movie set of the indie Western “Rust.” That has led to a number of inquiries on the specific liability of actor Alec Baldwin and whether he could be charged criminally. The answer in one word is “yes.” However, much depends on the still unfolding facts around this fatal mishap with the prop gun.

There is no indication that Baldwin knew that that prop gun was “live” or that he personally loaded the gun. To the contrary, recent reports indicate that he was handed the gun by an assistant director who reportedly declared “cold gun,” or a gun with no live ammunition. That is notable since an earlier recorded message of a crew member complained that the incident was the fault of an assistant director who was supposed to check the gun.

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 worker safety. Indeed, we now know from accounts that the movie set was the source of long-standing complaints over safety and working conditions. The production company allegedly required workers to drive 50 miles a day rather than pay for hotels, according to witnesses. Workers complained that this left them exhausted on the set.

As a producer, Baldwin could be ultimately implicated in the negligence leading to the shootings.

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 investigated and 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. For example, in the killing of Lee, it was later determined that the tip of a .44-caliber bullet had become lodged in the barrel of the prop gun weeks before the scene was shot. Actor Michael Massee was told that the gun had blanks when he shot Lee at close range. No criminal charges were brought in the case.

The individuals most at risk of such a charge are the assistant director and prop manager.

The most likely liability for Baldwin would stem from civil liability in the form of a wrongful death action.

79 thoughts on “Yes, Alec Baldwin Could Be Charged Criminally in the “Rust” Shooting But…”

  1. Music:

    It’s a gun..it’s a gun!
    It’s a gun all the way!
    If you call it a prop you’ll get your last dying day.
    So dont be a chump and don’t go on stage..
    The people are idiots to their last dying days.

  2. I’ll offer for discussion one system used where there exists real ammunition vs. simulated/blank ammunition in the same setting.

    We used simunitions during live fire, mock scenarios in training exercies. Simunitions are ammunition that contain a non-metallic bullet which marked where it impacted upon firing. They operate as effectively as shooting a firearm for training purposes but do not produce injury when used properly. One of course must wear face shields and maintain distances for safety purposes.

    It is usually the case where some of the deputies working patrol need to break from calls to attend these training sessions due to scheduling purposes. As such they come in off the road wearing their full compliment of gear and firearms. This can introduce the possibility of accidentally bringing duty rounds (actual ammo) into the training exercise. To forestall any possibility of this happening, to the best extent possible, before beginning the session the deputy was required while supervised by at least one other person, to remove their duty weapon, remove their ammunition magazines on their belt, remove any backup firearm, and place it onto a table, then store it before entering the training. The deputy was then required to pat himself/herself down and remove any weapons, ammo or firearms.

    The next step was to take a simunition specific firearm. In this case it was a Glock pistol dedicated to simunitions use that had a bright blue slide. The deputy then checked the simunition pistol for an empty chamber, then while still being witnessed took the simunitions ammo from a box and hand loaded the simunition specific magazines and the pistol. He/she then put the pistol in holster as well as the magazines, then when released by the supervisor went into the mock scenario training. Ideally, all persons involved in the scene, the “deputy” and the “suspect” cross checked each other.

    When the deputy returned from the training, the simunition pistol and magazines were unloaded back into the simunition box, as witnessed, then the deputy returned to the locker to retrieve their duty ammo and pistol where it was loaded, thus preventing simunitions being accidentally taken on-duty back to patrol.

    It was a simple system but it worked well enough. The reason for the removal of backup weapons and all duty ammo maganzines, even if simply carried on their belt, was to prevent someone from reverting to their training during the stress of the scene and grabbing a real weapon and using it out of reflex.

    1. Thank you for that. It is exactly what I would want before participating in that type of training. I suspect that if any live rounds are left in the vicinity of simulation rounds a “traveling salesman ” problem arises in which by one of millions of different possible combinations of small errors a duty round will sooner or later end up in a weapon when it should not be there. You can’t predict which route but you can know that those pathways exist. The only safe approach is to close all pathways by ensuring that the duty rounds are never allowed on the premises. Sounds like that was a great, safe and exciting training program. State Highway Patrol?

      1. Yeah, the simunition mock scenes brought bit more intense “reality” into the scenario. I remember when the F.A.T.S. system came out around 1990. In that you stood before a large screen TV like projector and carried a form of Light Pistol that told the system where and when you fired. The FATS system was very useful in rapidly showing you many movies in shoot or don’t shoot situations. It measured your reaction time and displayed a playback where it indicated where your rounds hit. You were scored based on targeting on time and whether or not the shoot was justified. As beneficial as this was, it still seemed like a video game in some respects. I suppose a mid-way point might be to use paint ball mock scenes, but its not the same as simunitions. It’s as if you are using your duty weapon and going down with someone who also has a actual firearm shooting back at you. It might be subtle, but someone should train as close to the real thing as they might possibly encounter out on the road. It instills a more profound sense of priority than does a video game type of training.

        As for error checking as you mentioned, the Japanese invented a system called Poke-Yoke. It is an industrial design method where processes or products are designed and created in a way that makes errors noticeable and/or forestalls them from happening. An example would be the old 3 1/2 inch floppy disks of yester years. They were made slightly rectangular instead of square so that they could not be inserted into the drive sideways, as they would not fit in the slot, and could not be inserted upside down due to a notch in the corner that engaged a trap that disallowed its improper insertion.

        So with the floppy it is not possible, short of sabotaging or forcing it inside the drive, to improperly insert it. That would be an ideal situation where it was physically impossible in our discussion to introduce a duty round into a training scenario, but tradeoffs force complete safety to be lessened in exchange for the greater benefit of more authentic and realistic scenario training as permitted with the simunitions.

        A perfect poka-yoke in the mock scenes would be for everyone to wear sweat clothing and carry a plastic toy gun to shoot with then everyone has to walk through a metal detector attached to a gate for entry into the training room. If metal detector goes BING then nobody gets in, due to bringing in a real gun, knife, or ammo. But what would be the greater risk–Beta Male training for law of the jungle street survival? Risk would be then transferred from inadequate training rooms to the hard reality situations out there where people can actually get hurt badly or worse. So, one makes tradeoffs.

        The Poka-Yoke takes a few forms. Nobody, I mean NOBODY gets into a mock scene without someone making sure each person has a blue pistol sticking out of their holster or the session ends right now. The second is the separation of simunition and duty ammo both at a distance and temporally. Third, nobody handles both at the same time. Fourth, spent shell casings that land on the floor are swept up and thrown away, even if someone experiences a misfire/misfeed and has to “Tap-Rack-Bang” to clear the jam (leaving an unfired simunition on the ground that could be defective if reused and you don’t want simunition brass somehow ending up in the brass can for reloading the ammo for the firing range.

        There is another method for dealing with TASER vs Pistol issues. The Poka-Yoke I found useful was that one should holster their pistol on the hip below their dominant/strong hand (assuming no cross-draw) And, the TASER carried on their weak hand side hip. In other words right handed person, right hipped pistol and Left Hand used for TASER on Left Hip. One should always always train for and use TASER only with their weak hand. Of course, we should train for Pistol with both hands, in case your dominant hand is injured and you have to use your weak hand to survive. But with TASER you should only use your weak hand to prevent the rare but sometimes fatal scenario where someone grabs the pistol when they thought they would only use their TASER. It stems from what is somewhat erroneously labelled a “muscle memory” problem. Where lets say a person is right handed and keeps their TASER behind their pistol holster or cross draws the TASER with their right hand. They get into a high stress situation and they intend to draw TASER but rapidly have to draw it. They have trained for rapid draw far more extensively with Pistol and so they grab the pistol by mistake and shoot the suspect instead of lighting him up with the TASER. It’s a little too late when you realize TASER went BANG! instead of “pop”, The problem was worse with the older “M” model TASERs that looked and held more like an automatic pistol than the more recent X-26 models that were smaller and distinctly different in terms of feel and appearance. You learn to only use left hand for TASER you most likely will not use the gun instead. Train well you react well. Train badly, well that sometimes doesn’t end in your favor.

        1. Thank you for providing that account. Superb training brought as close to reality as safely possible. Flight simulators are great for IFR training but there is never the adrenaline surge and sense of peril with the risk of panic on the periphery that one can get in a real plane in heavy weather. Your training seems designed to provide enough of an experience to get very close to the emotional states are likely to be experienced in a field encounter. Smart people put a lot of thought into making that a realistic and safe program. I didn’t know it existed but I am glad it does. The idea of always keeping the TASER on the non-dominate side so someone doesn’t draw the gun by accident seems like it should be standard practice everywhere. Not long ago an officer shot someone when she thought she was drawing her TASER. That wouldn’t have happened with the system you had. On the other side, when you really need your handgun you don’t want to draw a TASER by mistake and that won’t happen with your training, particularly when muscle memory is in place. A life-threatening emergency is no time to be fumbling..

          I think with most of us when a dangerous situation is coming at us fast there is a moment, or more, when our brains are shocked by disbelief that it is really happening and we reboot before we can respond. We have the luxury of trying to avoid those situations but an officer is duty bound to go toward them and sooner or later may not be granted that extra time to reboot. The training you described almost certainly makes it safer for everyone.

          Thanks!

  3. Every production that uses guns should be FORCED to take NRA taught classes. PERIOD. If only it saves 1 life, right???

    1. Still shooters responsibility before pulling that trigger to check the gun. He won’t be charged because he’s Hollywood elite

      1. Just as the officer who murdered Ashli Babbitt in cold blood was protected, not prosecuted. Injustice for all!

  4. This gun has been described as a ‘prop gun,’ suggesting it is a toy or something less than a real weapon. It was used for target practice firing live ammunition and was a genuine weapon that ALWAYS needed to be handled properly.

    The gun was said to have misfiled 3 times before the killing. A misfire is when it fails to shoot. What was described was an ‘unintended’ discharge of an actual weapon.

    The gun was a period, single-action revolver. To shoot it one has to put rounds in the cylinder, pull the hammer back manually, and then pull the trigger. Every step is deliberate rather than accidental.

    Despite the safety failures before Baldwin took the gun, the moment it was in his hands it was his duty to recognize that he was holding a potentially dangerous weapon and act accordingly. That meant checking to see if it was loaded, easy to do with a revolver. It also meant NEVER pointing a genuine gun at another person. It meant NEVER pulling the trigger when the gun is pointed where it could cause damage, wound or kill.

    He was handed a weapon that ALWAYS should be handled with appropriate care. Instead, without personally checking its condition, he manually pulled the hammer back, manually aimed at the person behind the camera, and manually pulled the trigger. Each intended step, cocking, aiming and pulling the trigger moved that woman a notch closer to death.

    Because of each deliberate action he killed that woman.

    Once he had full and sole control of the weapon the responsibility was entirely his regardless of the failures of other people.

    Baldwin was certainly negligent and most likely he was reckless.

        1. No, he didn’t. It turns out that he was practicing drawing the weapon from one side to the other when it discharged accidentally, and this was after he was told it was “cold”. Baldwin did nothing wrong.

          1. You can’t fire a period, single-action revolver without manually pulling the hammer back. Baldwin pulled the hammer back and prepared the gun for immediate firing and that wasn’t an accident. Baldwin is a f***up.

            1. Actually, period single-action revolvers like the Colt Single-Action Army have a reputation of being more prone to accidentally discharge (for instance, when bumped), because the firing pin rests directly on the back of the round that is at the upper chamber of the cylinder. Hence the “cowboy load” where you only load 5 bullets and leave one chamber empty, so the firing pin is not resting on any rounds.

              More details: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UKkYXpGoNnQ

              1. It takes more than just a bump. Usually it slips out of a holster or bag and hits hammer first. If that had happened there would be a bullet hole in the ceiling instead of the camera operator.

                  1. ATS, I am surprised that you are surprised that people on a legal blog want to speculate on legal liabilities. Perhaps you should find a cooking or soap opera blog.

              2. Bob: “the firing pin rests directly on the back of the round that is at the upper chamber of the cylinder. ”

                +++

                No, it doesn’t. The problem is that if the hammer is struck hard it will drive the firing pin from its recess and into the center of the cartridge. As I said, that usually only happens if the gun is dropped on its hammer. I suppose hitting the hammer with a rock might do it too, but it would throw your aim off.

              3. Bob- Correction. I was describing the action of a Ruger Blackhawk, a similar weapon but with a different firing pin than the frontier Colt has. Both can fire when the hammer is struck hard though Ruger has issued a recall to modify the gun so it won’t happen. The Colt hammer has an initial click position that keeps the firing pin off the cartridge but a strong blow can cause it to fire.

                https://www.rockislandauction.com/riac-blog/how-to-function-check-your-colt-single-action-army

                Neither case applies to Baldwin. Pulling the trigger after drawing the gun and pointing it at the camera is said to have been a part of his routine.

              4. Bob,

                Good video but he doesn’t put the hammer in the first click position which is safer and he does, in fact, hit the gun hammer with an actual hammer to make it fire. He did demonstrate that normally [no dropping or hand held hammer] the gun had to be cocked manually and trigger pulled for each shot.

                Unless you are Baldwin you don’t cock a gun, aim it toward a person and pull the trigger without personally making sure the gun isn’t loaded even in a movie or practice. One dead body tells us why.

    1. Young, the misfiring is completely irrelevant. The handling of the gun is not the real issue.

      The issue is and should be why was live ammunition present at the set?

      There is absolutely no reason why they would have live ammunition in that situation.

      You can be as careful as you can be and properly handle the gun, but the expectation that it is not loaded with live ammunition because it is a prop gun is a huge factor.

      This has happened before. Bruce Lee’s son died because live ammunition was mistakenly used instead of the blanks. They are obviously distinguishing characteristics on how that type of ammunition is identifiable.

      The question will be focused on why was the ammunition not verified as either live or blanks.

      1. Sevvy:

        “This has happened before. Bruce Lee’s son died because live ammunition was mistakenly used instead of the blanks. They are obviously distinguishing characteristics on how that type of ammunition is identifiable.”
        ************************
        Precison matters and the lack of it is what causes some of us to question your comments. Brandon Lee died when a bullet was lodged in the barrell of the S&W revolver handgun some weeks before the shooting. In that case, the gun was loaded some weeks before with a cartridge whose powder had been removed but the bullet left intact so that the gun appeared to be loaded with live rounds for closeup shots. When the ammo was removed, the bullet was not noticed as missing from the top of the cartridge as it had lodged in the barrell though vibration. Weeks later, when the prop guy (armorer) loaded the gun that eventually killed Lee, he used script-required blanks which are shell casings complete with primer and smokeless powder but no bullet since this was not a closeup shot. The blank was chambered in the handgun and then when the actor it fired it, the deflagrated powder propelled the bullet left in the barrell into Lee. So there was a blank, an errant bullet from weeks ago and a tragedy caused by not noticing that the bullet had lodged in the barrell .

      2. Svelaz– “The handling of the gun is not the real issue.”

        +++

        Welll, you said you weren’t a lawyer.

  5. Gun illiterate ignores rule every gun owner knows: All guns are loaded and the barrell is never pointed in an unsafe direction unless you’re sure of your target and what’s around your target. So gun illiterate wants to deny knowledgeable gun owners because of the danger to others. The irony is priceless. Karma bomb at twelve o’clock. Let’s let him rot in jail.

    1. Mespo, real gun owners would know that the real issue is why were live rounds present at a movie set. The handling of the gun is irrelevant. Everyone on the set expects those guns to have blanks instead of live ammunition. It’s not like Baldwin was playing around with it. He pulled that trigger thinking he had blanks. Not live ammunition.

        1. Mespo– “All guns contain live rounds. That’s the rule.”
          +++
          Exactly, and it is a rule that saves lives. Svelaz says he is a pilot. I wonder if he would take off leaving all pre-flight checks to other people? I doubt it.

          You know of the “Captain of the Ship” doctrine that places all responsibility on one person who is legally responsible for all outcomes once he assumes control. I think the same applies to a person the moment he takes a weapon in his hands. Nothing happens with that weapon that is not his responsibility. He “pre-flights” it and he is responsible for its proper use.

          1. Young,

            “ Exactly, and it is a rule that saves lives. Svelaz says he is a pilot. I wonder if he would take off leaving all pre-flight checks to other people? I doubt it.”

            Actually leaving preflight checks to other people is quite common in the airline industry. It’s usually the first officer who conducts the preflight walk around and the captain is in the flight deck programming the FMS.

            The captain can do the preflight if he chooses to. It’s his prerogative. But the majority of the time it’s the first officer who does it.

            A private pilot is expected to do his own preflight, but he can choose not to do it. Especially if he’s the only one doing it.

            1. Svelaz– “A private pilot is expected to do his own preflight, but he can choose not to do it. Especially if he’s the only one doing it.”

              +++

              Is that what you do? Skip the pre-flight? I would never get in a plane with you and I would never hand a gun, empty or loaded, to you.

              You and Baldwin can go and play with guns and fly planes together. Someday you won’t come back.

              1. Young,

                “ Is that what you do? Skip the pre-flight? I would never get in a plane with you and I would never hand a gun, empty or loaded, to you.”

                Nope, I don’t skip preflight. But it’s obvious that you’re not quite getting the circumstances of the situation Baldwin was placed in.

                The entire issue should be why were live rounds even in the set.

                Baldwin could have been handling the gun according to every safe practice known. How many times do you check to make sure your weapon doesn’t have two types of ammunition when do hands you a weapon? or in the case of Baldwin live and blanks?

                The only person who knows for sure is the one loading the gun. Baldwin had no reason to believe his gun was loaded with live ammunition after having handed it to him at a movie set. He was handling it as if it was loaded. But to not know there was live ammunition in it, especially in a movie set cannot be Baldwin’s fault.

                Do you check every bullet in a gun that’s handed to you to make sure you have the right kind of ammo or just look at the first round and assume they are all correct?

                What you are suggesting is that Baldwin was supposed to check his rounds were not live after having had his gun handed to him by a professional or at least an experienced prop master.

                1. Experienced folks in Hollywood have already said you don’t point the gun at the camera unless nobody is behind the camera for that scene. It is industry standard practice. Sometimes a shield is put up as well. Baldwin has been on enough sets to know that. He is a typical, arrogant leftist know-it-all who, as it turns out, doesn’t know it all and killed someone.

        2. Not in a movie set where you are literally shooting at someone. The distinguishing between live and blank rounds cannot be made if you are using a revolver and just checking the back end of the bullets in the barrel.

          1. Svelaz– “The distinguishing between live and blank rounds cannot be made if you are using a revolver and just checking the back end of the bullets in the barrel.”

            +++

            What I said. But you can see the actual tip of the bullet in the cylinder of a revolver by looking at it at an angle.

            We wouldn’t be having this discussion if Baldwin weren’t a Trump-hating Leftist who must be protected at all costs by fellow rabid leftists like you and Natasha.

            1. Young, why would Baldwin expect to have live rounds in a movie set where he is literally going to point the gun at someone and pull the trigger?

              Baldwin is not at fault here. He didn’t load the gun. The responsibility lies with the person loading the gun to make sure it did not have live ammunition.

              Do you check every bullet that is in your gun to make sure you have all the correct ones? Every time?

              1. Svelaz– “Do you check every bullet that is in your gun to make sure you have all the correct ones? Every time?”

                +++

                Of course. Even when shooting an antique muzzle loader flintlock, and yes, I have one.

                1. I’ve never seen so many comments by others who claim to have the answers even before the official investigation is completed.

                  There are so many twists and players to this incident that it will take time to sort out. I dare say this is becoming a Charlie Chan who done it. In time, this incident may be worthy of its own movie script.

                  Just sit back and wait for the details to come-forth. Really….

                  1. ATS– The most important detail is already known: a gun in Baldwin’s hand killed a woman.

                    Really…

              2. Svelaz–

                Try this– Do you check to see if an exposed electrical cable has current before grabbing it with your bare hand? Same thing with a gun but more dangerous.

              3. Svelaz– “Young, why would Baldwin expect to have live rounds in a movie set where he is literally going to point the gun at someone and pull the trigger?”

                +++

                Live rounds were fired unexpectedly from ‘prop’ guns a few days before the killing. With that record only an idiot would pick up one of those guns and not check it personally– but Baldwin.

                Those guns were like Biden’s dog with a history of biting. Be extra careful.

  6. It’s a good thing that there is no criminal or civil liability for negligence in writing articles with obvious mistakes and typos which could easily be corrected if only Turley would proofread his writing just ONCE before hitting send! A lawyer learns early in his career that careful drafting is his stock-in-trade. The fact that he will not bother to glance over his writings indicates a certain level of contempt for us. I’m not sure I would want him to represent me unless he assured me that he would proofread documents on my behalf. Even so, I would feel obliged to double-check anything he had drafted not unlike “Eric Baldwin” who should have double-checked the loaded gun handed to him. Alec stands to lose a lot of money for his apparent negligence; Turley’s loss will be to his reputation as a careful lawyer.

  7. The perpetrator had a right to keep and bear arms.

    The perpetrator must be charged with and convicted for negligent manslaughter.

    The perpetrator must be sued for wrongful death.
    _______________________________________

    2nd Amendment

    A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

  8. There is no indication that Baldwin knew that that prop gun was “live” or that he personally loaded the gun. To the contrary, recent reports indicate that he was handed the gun by an assistant director who reportedly declared “cold gun,” or a gun with no live ammunition.

    It is the responsibility of all persons handling a firearm to ensure that it is indeed a “cold gun”.

    The production company allegedly required workers to drive 50 miles a day rather than pay for hotels, according to witnesses. Workers complained that this left them exhausted on the set.

    Driving 50 miles at 60mph would equate to a 50 minute commute (25 minutes each way) – the horror!!!!

    1. That was in conjunction with their working 13 to 14 hours a day. It apparently went on day after day and people were genuinely concerned. The producers then just fired them and hired locals who did not have the experience the original people did. It’s more complicated than a 35 or 40 hour week with a long commute of 50 miles each way, not round trip.

  9. “The production company allegedly required workers to drive 50 miles a day rather than pay for hotels, according to witnesses. Workers complained that this left them exhausted on the set.”
    ———-
    Gee, so sad. Many people in the corporate world commute much further than this on a daily basis for years and while they may be unhappy doing so, they do what they have to do, usually because where they live is a cheaper and/or better place to raise a family..

    The question that no one seems yet to have answered was why Baldwin was pointing the gun at the photographer when he pulled the trigger.

  10. Had Mr. Baldwin’s ego ever allowed him to take an NRA Safety Course, say the one I took 44 years ago when I was 12, the likelihood that he would have mis handled this weapon would have been greatly diminished. You hold it, you own it.

    1. Anyone with half a brain and at his age knows you never point a gun at a human being. Not only did he do that, but the bullet went through the woman and then hit the Director. Doesn’t take an NRA course for most adults to be able to understand the flukes that can happen and aiming properly is important.

  11. Turkey adopts the words “prop gun”. What is a prop gun?
    These were real guns.
    Someone put a bullet in it. Nitwit aimed and fired.

  12. The irony of this, is that Baldwin is one the most ferocious ANTI-GUN hypocrites. Unfortunately, this will give him more ammunition to rail against guns. This is a person with a bad temper, who thinks he knows it all. When all the facts come out…if they ever do…Baldwin will have a lot to answer for.

  13. Just to clarify Turley’s post, it was the tip of a .44 caliber dummy round that was lodged in the barrel on the set of The Crow.

    A dummy round is basically a bullet but without the primer or propellant. It’s a projectile with nothing to propel it. A blank is a cartridge with a propellant, but not projectile. All it does is make a bang. When the tip of the dummy round broke off and lodged in the barrel, it provided the blank with a projectile, approximating a .44 bullet in two broken parts that unfortunately functioned just fine.

    Checking the barrel should have been routine.

    This is really why actors need to take a more responsible, hands on role in the weapons they are handed. If someone hands an actor a knife that is supposed to be dull and retract, then he should run his thumb across it and ensure it retracts, for example.

    This isn’t about castigating the actors who accidentally fire deadly rounds; it is about lessening the chance of that ever happening again. Firearms are very dangerous tools.

  14. Very sad case.

    To improve safety on set moving forward, everyone who handles a real firearm should take a safety class. The NRA is rather well known for their gun safety classes.

    Every actor who is to fire a real gun on set should be trained on how to inspect the firearm, unload it, verify the ammunition is either blank or a dummy round. The manufacturer of the dummy rounds used puts a pellet inside so you can hear it rattle. That’s the only way to tell, as the outside is just a regular bullet. Verify the barrel is clear.

    Although of course this should be done by the armorer, if you’re the one pulling the trigger, you’ll also be the one who will bear the terrible burden of harming or killing someone if there is a mistake.

    Even when it’s been checked and verified, a gun should not be pointed at anyone you don’t intend to kill. When a gun has to be pointed at a camera, they use shields or remote cameras. There are ways that, in most instances, an actor can point the gun slightly off target for a scene.

    I don’t personally blame Alec Baldwin as the actor holding the gun, unless more information comes out. But I do think this tragedy needs to be the impetus for better gun safety on sets. Even if such a tragedy only happens once every 20 years, it’s preventable.

    I do think that Baldwin may be held liable in his role as producer because of numerous safety complaints, as well as that weapon misfiring several times already. If a weapon misfires or hang fires, it should be checked by the armorer. The related hang fire is actually really dangerous, as it means a faulty firing pin or spring causes a delay in igniting the gunpowder. That means you pull the trigger, and there is a delay in firing…just enough time for someone to forget muzzle safety. It’s often a problem with the ammunition, which means a lot of questions are going to be asked of the supplier. The weapon misfired several times earlier that day, allegedly, and then fired a deadly round when it was supposed to be cold.

    There could be several reasons that came together to create this catastrophe, from problems with the blank cartridges, a broken dummy round (like The Crow), an issue with the weapon, improper maintenance or cleaning of weapon, or a failure to follow up on safety concerns. Sabotage or even murder would have to be ruled out, such as someone deliberately loading a live round with the hopes of shutting down production.

    There’s going to be a thorough investigation. Hopefully, the movie industry will learn better safety protocols. Considering Hollywood is rather adamantly anti-2nd Amendment, it is rather hypocritical of them to make so much money off of movies that contain firearms and other weaponry. If they’re going to make a living using firearms, it’s important that all safety protocols are followed.

    1. More of Karen, the know-it -all expert about everything. Now, she’s opining that Baldwin is “liable in his role as producer because of numerous safety complaints”, echoing what Turley said, because Karen always echoes what someone affiliated with Fox says, which is where she receives most of her opinions. Well, Baldwin is only ONE of the producers, not the only one, and if he is only an executive producer, then he didn’t have hands-on responsibility for day to day operations on the film–an executive producer only has financial skin in the game.

      Turley does know that the investigation is only beginning, but because Baldwin did such wonderful parodies of Trump, making him look like the fool he is, and because Fox promotes Trump’s interests, Turley goes around making all sorts of baseless claims about civil and criminal liability before the facts have even been reported, much less established. We don’t know whether any “safety complaints” are related to this incident because, just maybe, the gun involved in the shooting was not the same gun that reportedly misfired before, and maybe misfiring isn’t even the reason why this happened. There are lots of possible explanations here. We don’t know for sure that the round was a live one. We don’t know if there was debris in the barrel that could have been the object that killed the cinematographer. We don’t know a lot of things, and for Turley, as a so-called legal expert, to proclaim that Baldwin might be criminally liable before the root cause of this incident is known, is just plain wrong, just like he’s wrong about civil liability. I haven’t seen any explanation as to why workers comp wouldn’t be the exclusive remedy here, and if it is, then there’s no “wrongful death” claim. Turley isn’t being paid by Fox to be neutral–he is there to help stump for Trump, and everyone knows that one of Trump’s priorities is to attack anyone who criticizes him. A piece musing about possible criminal and civil liability of a famous person before the facts are known is irresponsible.

      1. Shut up Nat…You have no clue what the heck you are talking about…You have Trump- brain. He lives in your head rent free. Trump wasn’t there. Trump didn’t pull the trigger. Grow up and get over your obsession with Trump.

        1. It turns out, based on reporting today, that no one pulled any trigger. Baldwin was practicing a cross draw technique inside the church that appears in the aerial photos of the set, when the gun discharged. He was told the gun was “cold” when it was handed to him. My point was that when the incident was first reported, Turley immediately went after Baldwin, accusing him of negligence, musing about wrongful death liability and criminal charges before the facts were fully developed. He did this for the simple reason that Fox controls Turley and Trump controls Fox. Baldwin has done a wonderful job parodying Trump, making him look foolish, and that’s why Turley went out on a limb by opining about liability. Just another example of Turley’s lack of objectivity since he went on the Fox payroll, just like he’s never gone after Marjorie Taylor Greene or addressed The Big Lie.

  15. Workplace injuries and deaths are typically addressed by state workers compensation laws, which provide the exclusive remedy for the affected workers. Most state workers compensation laws have a limited exception that allows a civil cause of action for intentional acts. Too, many states include an exception for independent contractors, but sometime allow the employer to obtain voluntary coverage. What is the extent of those exceptions in New Mexico, and how would they apply here?

    The New Mexico criminal statute appears to apply a negligence standard. From a policy perspective, and putting aside the independent contractor question, it seems odd to apply a lower standard for the purposes of criminal liability (negligence) than for the purposes of a civil tort claim (intent). Especially since negligence would unfortunately seem to be a not all that uncommon factor in workplace injuries.

    Sounds like this would be a good research activity for one of the Professor’s students, or maybe an easy question for someone familiar with the movie industry and the NM workers compensation and criminal laws.

  16. If you hand me a firearm and tell me it is not loaded, my first responsibility is to verify that it is not loaded. Actually, my responsibility goes farther than that. It is my responsibility NOT TO ACCEPT the firearm unless the person handing it to me has VISUALLY DEMONSTRATED that it is not loaded. If I do not do that, then anything bad that happens is 100% my fault because I failed to fulfill my first responsibility to verify that the firearm was not loaded.

    1. + 1,000

      Unfortunately that’s common sense backed by years of experience and has never been codified into law.

      1. And there’s also “keep your finger off thevtrugger until you’re readybtomshoot” as well as “never point the muzzle at anything you don’t want to destroy.”

        Negligence, negligence, negligence. To be judged in all likelihood by a panel of ignorant people.

          1. You’re right, though. Finger outside the trigger guard, never point the muzzle at anything you don’t intend to kill or destroy, and assume all guns are loaded.

            Contrast actors who dabble in firearms for movie roles, with Keanu Reaves. He spends so many hours on the range getting intense training and practice on the same range as many cops. He takes gun safety and training deadly serious. As he should. It’s not just about honing the craft to look realistic as an actor; it’s about learning the actual use and maintenance of a firearm as a matter of personal responsibility. He really could respond quickly and effectively in a crisis.

    2. B.H.: Granted. And sound firearm safety.

      However, the current situation is different. Whether it’s a revolver or a semi-auto loaded with *blanks*, the cartridges look the same as live ammo. So the issue is not whether the set gun is loaded. It’s has to be, with blanks. So what is the user’s safety protocol in *that* situation?

  17. The statement that the prop weapon was used in off camera “real” ammo discharge and that live ammo was on set, makes AB the person who pointed a known weapon and pulled the trigger makes HIM the only person who is 100% responsible for this neg homicide should be in play.

    1. Fred – oh my God, I hadn’t heard that. Did they really use the same gun for live fire? That would be a very serious safety violation. There shouldn’t even be live ammo anywhere near that set. Live ammo would look exactly like a dummy round.

      1. On Friday, there was in interview with a firearms expert on MSNBC. He showed dummy and blank rounds. The difference can only be perceived by viewing the distal end of the bullet, not the breech end. The two are readily distinguishable visually, but not without removing them from the barrel. It is likely the case that it is standard practice for an actor to rely on the arms and prop handlers when they tell you that a gun is cold.

        1. Natch–

          First you do not rely on someone else to ensure a gun in your hands is safe.

          Second, with a revolver you can normally see the tip of the next round that will rotate to the firing position.

          Third, even blanks should not be fired directly at another person. I have seen a soda can blown apart by a blank round fired from a few yards back in a demonstration in Tombstone.

          1. Young says,

            “ Second, with a revolver you can normally see the tip of the next round that will rotate to the firing position.”

            You’ve handled revolvers? You can’t see the tip of the round unless you’re pointing that gun to your face or raising it to your face to inspect the rounds facing the forward. Most people check to see if a revolver is loaded by looking at the barrel from the back and those are usually the same people who loaded the weapon.

            How many times have you seen people check revolvers by checking the tips n the barrel? The majority of those who own revolvers just flip the barrel out to see if there are billets in it and flip it back in.

            “ Third, even blanks should not be fired directly at another person.”

            It’s a movie set. The purpose of firing at a person with blanks is kind of the whole point. To simulate shooting another person.

            1. Svelaz– “The majority of those who own revolvers just flip the barrel out to see if there are billets in it and flip it back in.”

              +++

              It was a period piece and the cylinder does not flip out. A latch opens to expose and load each chamber in turn while the gun is in half-cock so the cylinder can rotate. It can be checked by opening the latch on half cock and spinning the cylinder but that only exposes the back of the casing and does not tell you whether the round has been fired. You can keep the gun pointed down range or in the air and see the lead tip of the bullet next in line by looking at an angle without pointing the barrel at your face. Better though to keep track of what you are doing. in any event, Baldwin could have discovered with a quick glance that there was a live round in the revolver without pointing at anyone or anything. Once in his hands it was entirely his gun and entirely his responsibility. Would you have it otherwise?

          2. Baldwin didn’t point the gun at anyone. He was practicing a “cross draw” technique inside the church that appears in the aerial photos when it discharged..

            1. Natacha: “Baldwin didn’t point the gun at anyone.”

              +++

              The gun in Baldwin’s hand was obviously pointing at the person he killed when it was fired.

  18. This will rest on details, as always.

    Union sabotage.
    History informs us unions often resort to violence. If complaints are unsafe job site, creating evidence to that is motivation. Proving it would be difficult.
    Live ammunition on the site. Again relying on reporting is hazardous. The crew was using live ammo for target practice after filming using the “prop” guns.
    While the Producer/s would have liability, its hard to match up labors complaint with the hour commute(common for lots of people) and hanging around off the clock to play with guns. I think the law calls this an “attractive nuisance.
    A larger view, can reveal California’s stupid and unconstitutional gun restrictions, created the situation were people are forced to sate their curiosity about guns in dangerous situations rather than walking into a gun shop and asking to test fire some guns. So the State, shares liability.

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