The Gun Did It? Baldwin Denies Pulling The Trigger in Fatal “Rust” Shooting

Recently, I noted the curious scene of actor Alec Baldwin insisting with reporters that he has been given clear legal instructions not to discuss the shooting of Halyna Hutchins at the set of the movie “Rust” . . . and then making detailed statements about the shooting. Now, with an ongoing criminal investigation and various civil lawsuits expected to be filed, Baldwin has given a detailed statement to ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos, including a surprising claim that he never pointed the gun or pulled the trigger.  That interview may be one of his most watched scenes, particularly if he is charged criminally or sued civilly. In the interview, Baldwin clearly and expressly denies ever pulling the trigger or even pointing the gun at Hutchins: “The trigger wasn’t pulled. I didn’t pull the trigger. I would never point a gun at someone and pull the trigger on them, never.”

That is a bold statement to be sure and it locks in Baldwin’s defense for better or worse. It would seem that he will be arguing that the gun discharged on its own. As an antique Colt 45, it may be argued that the weapon discharged without the conscious pulling of the trigger. That would make the gun defective. Baldwin also added “Someone put a live bullet in a gun, a bullet that wasn’t even supposed to be on the property.”

As noted earlier, the problem is that Baldwin was not just an actor but a producer on the set. He was arguably responsible for the set itself and the props.

What is most striking about the new claim is that it is subject to physical testing and even a demonstrative exhibit before the jury.  If experts report that the gun did not have a “hair trigger” or some defect, it would greatly erode Baldwin’s credibility.  It is very unlikely that his counsel has had access to the gun or even any film evidence from the scene. Notably, however, they do have the statement of an assistant director that he thought the shooting was a “misfire.”

Moreover, I am surprised that Baldwin claims that he would never point even a prop gun at someone and pull the trigger. Given his many shooting scenes, that would be disprovable.

 

The defense certainly could argue that, as an actor, Baldwin is unfamiliar with guns and did not “mean to pull the trigger.” However, this interview locks him into an absolute denial of pointing the gun and pulling the trigger. That is a considerable risk when the investigation is not complete and Baldwin’s counsel does not know what the forensic and eyewitness testimony will say.

Baldwin has also called for police officers to be assigned to movie sets to control the use of prop guns — a remarkably dim proposal. Police departments are not designed to be prop managers for Hollywood.

Baldwin’s worlds — cinematic and actual — appear to be merging in this scandal. In The Hunt for Red October, Baldwin (as Jack Ryan) objected “I don’t react well to bullets.” This is not a particularly good reaction to the investigation into this shooting. The police have not issued a report on how this bullet found its way to the site or how it was discharged. Pending the release of such evidence, Baldwin’s decision to give an interview on the details of the incident was highly ill-advised.

103 thoughts on “The Gun Did It? Baldwin Denies Pulling The Trigger in Fatal “Rust” Shooting”

  1. I comment as someone who owns 6 revolvers including 2 single actions. I jumped into the deep end of this pool right away. This morning, as a final check, I tested all of it on one of my SAA revolvers whose mechanism is the same as the Pietta replica that he fired. Prior to that, I examined the Pietta replica’s manual. The only way his claim could be true is if the gun was seriously damaged. Even then, it’s extremely unlikely.

    Start by dismissing any mention of triggerless discharge from jostling, snagging, or dropping. None of that happened in this case. Baldwin claims that he pulled the hammer back but didn’t fully cock it, and it fired when he released the hammer. Other commenters are correct that this would be impossible if it has a working transfer bar. But that’s not the whole story. There are detents at the quarter- and half-cock positions, and they would stop a “hammer discharge.”

    Trigger-firing won’t happen from quarter-cock, because the hammer won’t achieve enough velocity to ignite the primer. Theoretically, you could trigger-fire from half-cock, but it would take a vigorous trigger pull that Baldwin could not fail to recall. Hammer-fire from that position is physically impossible, and hammer fire from less or more than half-cock would be blocked by the quarter-cock or half-cock detent. Thus, the only way to fire it in that situation is to fully cock and pull the trigger, or to hold the trigger down and “fan” the hammer. Both of those directly contradict Baldwin’s claim. For the gun to be fired without a trigger pull would thus require no transfer bar AND missing detents at quarter- and half-cock.

    Furthermore, if the half-cock detent was missing, it would make the gun impossible to load without removing the cylinder, a ridiculously awkward process that incidentally would tell even the most casual observer that the gun was seriously defective. What actually happened is this: Baldwin pulled the trigger from full cock, and either doesn’t remember or doesn’t want to. He then invented a physically impossible story that will be invalidated when the FBI crime lab inspects the gun. That lie will be ammunition for the local prosecutor to file a criminal charge — if she wants to, which is a big “if” in New Mexico, a famously corrupt, poor state dominated by “woke” Democrats.

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