I Didn’t Know the Gun was Loaded
Oh Miss Effie was her name Through the West she won her fame Being handy with the gun But she drove the men insane
Cause she’d whip out her pistol And shoot most any guy And sing out this alibi
I didn’t know the gun was loaded And I’m so sorry my friend I didn’t know the gun was loaded And I’ll never, never do it again . . . .
All I know about the shooting death of Halyna Hutchins at the hands of Alec Baldwin on a movie location in New Mexico comes from news reports on the radio. Thus far it seems gun handling protocol common to movie or television sets was not followed. I’ve been on many a television or movie set in studios and on location and can say from my experience that when guns are present the prop master, armorer, directors, and actors are on high alert.
There are safety meetings and the handling of guns is discussed. Hollywood follows the same procedures those of us who grew up in homes with guns learned as little kids: Assume a gun is loaded; if you pick up a gun or are handed a gun be certain the safety is on; inspect the gun and determine if there are rounds in the gun’s magazine or cylinder or an already chambered round; don’t point the gun at anyone.
On movies or television sets it is normally made certain a gun is loaded with blanks only and that a gun is never left unattended. Typically, a prop master or an armorer will check a gun for blanks only if loaded and then show the gun to an assistant director who will then do his own inspection. Only at that point will the gun be handed to an actor, who will ask the armorer or prop master to show him the gun is loaded with blanks only. Only when a gun has been triple inspected will it then be used in a scene.
For Alec Baldwin’s movie Rust, a Western set in the 1880s, this should have been easy. The gun must have been a revolver, which has a cylinder that swings out. It’s then simple to check the cylinder to see if the chambers are loaded and, if so, with what and to look through the barrel to see if it’s free of debris and clean. This is a quick and easy inspection, even for an actor such as Baldwin. It’s unfathomable to me why he didn’t do such a final inspection or have the assistant director who reportedly handed him the gun and told him it was “cold” show him that indeed it was unloaded or loaded only with blanks.
Once Baldwin had that gun in his hands, it then became his responsibility. I’m sure he will soon be declaring in an affidavit, “I didn’t know the gun was loaded.”