SANTA, FE, NM –-(Ammoland.com)- What happened on the Alec Baldwin western movie Rust set is a tragedy and could only occur through negligence.
Last week during the filming of the western movie Rust in Santa Fe, New Mexico, actor, and executive producer Alec Baldwin accidentally shot director Joel Souza and killed cinematographer Halyna Hutchins. Hutchin was a talented filmmaker, former investigative journalist, and mother. She was 42.
The lack of safety on the set was so much of a concern that the crew of Rust quit in protest over the conditions. The producers, including executive producer Alec Baldwin, allegedly cut corners to save money. After the crew left, Baldwin hired a local replacement crew and moved forward with the production as if nothing ever happened.
Some of the safety concerns involved two separate accidental discharges of firearms in the days before the fatal shooting. According to famed movie armorer Larry Zanoff, live ammunition should never be on a movie set. Zanoff has served as the armorer for the movies of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, The upcoming Matrix movie, and the Bad Boys movie series.
“Live ammunition should never be on set,” Zanoff told AmmoLand News.
The 24-year-old armor Hannah Gutierrez-Reed oversaw all the firearms on the set. She is the daughter of long-time film industry armorer, Thell Reed. Thell Reed is a legend in the film world and specializes in westerns. Industry insiders call Gutierrez-Reed “inexperienced.” One person in the industry wondered if Gutierrez-Reed moved up in the industry so fast because of her father.
Gutierrez-Reed has been subject to criticism for her firearms handling in the past. According to the Daily Beast, she is “inexperienced and green.” Sources on her last movie, The Old Way, claimed that “she was a bit careless with the guns, waving it around every now and again.” Before it was properly checked, she allegedly handed an unchecked gun to the 11-year-old actress, Ryan Kiera Armstrong. Production had to be temporarily stopped because of the mistake.
Another point of concern with the filming of Rust was the chain of custody of the firearm in question. The gun was handed to Baldwin by assistant director Dave Halls. The assistant director told Baldwin that the revolver was “cold,” meaning that it was unloaded. Baldwin didn’t check the gun for himself. According to Zanoff, during the filming of a movie, the only people that should touch the firearm is the armorer and the actor.
“The armorer is responsible for the chain of custody,” Zanoff told AmmoLand News. “Only the armorer and the actor should be touching the firearm.”
Halls also has had safety complaints against him dating back to 2019. During the filming of the Hulu series Into the Dark he did not hold the required safety meetings and did not announce when a firearm was on set as required by the protocol. He also wanted to film pyrotechnics without the required standby medical personnel.
“I told him they are free to film whatever they want, but that there would be no fire or sparks, etc., until the medic, fire safety officer, and all of my crewmates were safely back on set,” pyrotechnician Maggie Goll told CNN.
Baldwin is the executive producer of Rust. He is responsible for all actions on the set. He could be found negligent, especially because he didn’t check the gun and did not handle the previous incidents of the lack of firearm safety on the set. Legal experts AmmoLand News consulted said that Baldwin and Gutierrez-Reed could be charged with manslaughter. The legal experts believe that a civil suit against everyone involved and the production company will be coming soon.
This incident shows that gun safety needs to be practiced even with prop guns on movie sets.
About John Crump
John is a NRA instructor and a constitutional activist. John has written about firearms, interviewed people of all walks of life, and on the Constitution. John lives in Northern Virginia with his wife and sons and can be followed on Twitter at @crumpyss, or at www.crumpy.com.