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. Why hasn’t Baldwin been charged with anything yet? Involuntary manslaughter? Negligent homicide? Where are the criminal charges? Why has he escapted ANY charges being filed against him?

    He’s just waiting for ‘the fix’ that we all know is ‘in’….

    The elite versus the peasants. Two systems of ‘injustice.’ One for them. Another for us.

    Corrupt prosecutors are a scourge on society.

    1. Charges immediately filed on Rittenhouse, for example.

      Charge Baldwin already. What are you waiting for? An investigation or something? You know, like the one Rittenhouse never got before he had the book thrown at him??

  2. I hate to be a stickler here but there are no such things as “live bullets.” Bullets are the projectile, usually a fully or partially jacketed lump of lead alloy which is inert by itself, and a constituent part of a “cartridge.” The cartridge contains a case, primer, powder, and the bullet. The cartridge may have contained a bullet or not, in the former event it would be a live cartridge and in the latter a “blank.” An operational firearm is necessary to strike the primer and fire either a live cartridge or a blank cartridge. A “dummy” cartridge is a piece of material with the dimensions of a cartridge but which is inert. Some are simply a piece of metal machined to the dimensions of the cartridge, others are made by seating and crimping a bullet into a case and omitting powder and the live primer. Dummies often have soft material where the primer would be in order to permit the handler to “dry fire” the firearm without damage to the firing pin. All of these various iterations of a cartridge are usually color coded in some way to distinguish them from live cartridges (i.e., dummies can be purple or bright orange).

    I would propose that having his finger inside the trigger guard at any time during the process which led to the death and injury in this case is probably bad for Baldwin. The snippets of the interview really seem like someone who is in a denial/bargaining stage in this process – he’s perhaps convincing himself that he didn’t pull the trigger because he really doesn’t want to accept that fact and wants to shift the blame to someone who let the live cartridge make its way into the firearm and perhaps that the trigger pull weight wasn’t very heavy. This seems like someone who wants to say “I only just touched the trigger” but knows that he can’t say that.

  3. Actor Burt Lancaster plays a sheriff in the “Lawman”. No accidents occurred on this set.

    Here’s the final scene. Warning, it’s bloody, but nobody was injured during the filming.

    1. “Obviously it was a second shooter on the grassy knoll…”

      That’s crazy talk.

      It was obviously a shooting of the unvaccinated. Or white supremacists. Or domestic terrorists. Maybe all three.

      1. So, an unvaccinated white supremacist terrorist? Wouldn’t an unvaccinated white supremacist deplorable racist terrorist be more likely?

  4. If he did not pull the Trigger and he did not point the Gun at the Victims….but it was in his Hand(s)….just how does he explain the discharge of a real bullet that killed one person and wounded another?

    Even if it was an accidental discharge of a live round that should not have been in the firearm to begin with….it had to be pointed at the two people that were shot.

    The guy should stick to the truth it would sound better.

  5. For the commenters pushing this kind of statement, “When the hammer is down on that kind of revolver, the firing pin protrudes and, if a live round is loaded in the chamber underneath, a sharp enough jolt can cause the pin to strike the round’s primer with enough force to set it off.” that’s being promoted on websites, the implications of what they are saying is that a sharp jolt anywhere on the pistol might set it off, and that’s utter BS! Here is the actual fact; the “sharp jolt” they are talking about is a significant direct force applied directly to the back of the hammer rapidly driving the firing pin into the cartridge primer thus firing the cartridge and there has been absolutely no indication of anything like this happening. This is an attempt at presenting reasonable doubt that is absolute nonsense and anyone pushing this garbage is ignorant.

    1. SW– I think your post is 100% correct. Earlier in my life I had to carry a .38 police special revolver. We were instructed never to have a bullet in the chamber under the hammer because a sharp jolt to the hammer (like in a fight) could cause it to fire. You could hit any other part of the revolver with a sledge hammer and a bullet would not fire. If this is their defense, the Baldwin attorney’s must have a dry well.

    2. The modern copy made by Pietta has a modern transfer bar safety and a frame mounted firing pin, a direct blow to the hammer will not result in a furing.

  6. I agree, under normal circumstances this interview is ill advised. But who did advise it were his agents and managers. His public persona is how they all make their money. Baldwin knows he is a liberal darling and the DA is a Soros queen. He’s OK criminally, and civilly, it’s only money. Showbiz has ample money.

  7. It is ALWAYS the personal responsibility of the person in direct contact with a firearm to personally check and personally know if the firearm is safe or unsafe to handle, the “it wasn’t my responsibility to check the gun” argument is utter nonsense and won’t cut it in a court of law, it’s pure unmitigated neglect! Baldwin should serve time in jail for his willful neglect that killed another person.

    Also, those kind of pistols are single action only and they have a hair trigger once the hammer is pulled back and latched, anyone that has ever handled one and has a functioning brain doesn’t put their finger on the trigger until they want to actually fire it. These pistols don’t just go off by themselves, the hammer MUST be INTENTIONALLY pulled back to the fire position and you don’t do that unless you intend on firing it.

    Baldwin is full of “it” and he’s a blithering idiot for speaking in public about the shooting.

    1. Well, it’s an interesting legal question however if there are people with expertise who are hired to ensure the safe handling of firearms so that this responsibility isn’t delegated to each actor and others on set who may have little or no practical experience with firearms. In such a case the legal duties would seem to be more distributed than they would be at, say, a firing range. If it is someone’s duty to inspect a firearm immediately before handing it to an actor for a scene (and such a process is standard in the industry), I can’t see the actor getting the blame for an accidental discharge after someone else made a mistake if the actor followed the proper processes. But from what I’ve read, it just seems like there was a lot of loose gunplay on and around the set, and Baldwin’s accidental discharge may have been of a piece with that. The dummy/blanks/prop guns floating around a set is a recipe for people getting careless in handling firearms generally, and then a live cartridge is introduced through negligence or malice and a very bad thing happens.

  8. His life is spent fooling people, but that was a single action gun that has to be cocked before it will fire. It could not fire till then, and it needs the trigger. Maybe the camera was rolling?

    1. Remotely possible but pretty unlikely. From the ‘Reload’ article you cite: “It still seems more plausible Baldwin pulled the trigger”

  9. There you go… proof positive that it is guns that kill… not people holding them in their hand…an actor would never lie…I just figured the crew had been shooting at snakes and left a live round in the chamber…

  10. Obviously he was cleaning the firearm and it just went off. That is the standard answer is it not? All firearms are presumed loaded until proven to be unloaded by the person holding the firearm. At the firing ranges, we are all taught that we are responsible for where the bullet goes. No caveats. Follow the rules or you are kicked out and not allowed to return.

    1. Anyone who touches a gun is responsible for seeing if the trigger ready to for, like when the finger clicker is pulled back and to open and see if it has shells in it.
      The use the word “Prop gun” all the time.

      Went in dumb. Come out dumb too.

      1. A “prop gun” is a non-functional firearm. It could be a functional firearm which has had parts removed or altered, or a piece of material resembling a firearm. However, where blank cartridges are to be used for film shots with muzzle flashes, a functional firearm is necessary.

  11. Baldwin is invoking the narrative of gun control groups such as Everytown, Brady, and Giffords. Never accuse the shooter….always blame the gun.
    Unfortunately…many people have bought into the tactic.

  12. Baldwin is smart – – or at least, he thinks he is – – so he’s trying his case in the court that seems to matter most these days: public opinion. We’ll see if it works.

  13. Baldwin has made a very good living using guns in movies.

    He has also established himself as a liberal with good anti-gun bonafides.

    Prime example of the moral flexibility of the left.

    Baldwin should have kept quiet, but that is not in his DNA.

    He should also not embrace his wife’s mendacity.

    Lefty royalty indeed.

  14. Baldwin should have stuck with “it wasn’t my responsibility to check the gun”…this just comes across as idiotic.

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