California senator to propose ‘live’ gun ban on movie sets after Alec Baldwin shooting

The shooting on the set of Rust sparked a flood of calls to bolster safety measures on movie sets

Megan Sheets
Wednesday 27 October 2021 14:59
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Production On Baldwin Film 'Rust' Halted

A California lawmaker says he will propose a “live” gun ban on movie sets after the fatal shooting on the set of Rust.

David Cortese, a Democratic state senator for Silicon Valley, announced his plan two days after Alec Baldwin fired a prop gun on the set of his forthcoming film Rust, killing cinematographer Halyna Hutchins and wounding director Joel Souza.

Mr Cortese said his legislation banning “live” ammunition on sets would “prevent this type of senseless violence and loss of life,” in reference to the Baldwin shooting.

“There is an urgent need to address alarming work abuses and safety violations occurring on the set of theatrical productions, including unnecessary high-risk conditions such as the use of live firearms,” Mr Cortese said in a statement.

He acknowledged that the Rust shooting occurred outside of his home state, in New Mexico, but said: “It is important that California establish new safety standards and best practices for all those who work in the industry and particularly in our own state.

“Those working behind the scenes to entertain and bring joy to millions all over the world shouldn’t go to set worrying if they will return home safely to their family.

“Our entertainment industry must do a better job of ensuring safe working conditions for our hardworking crews.”

The term “live ammunition” refers to any cartridge that contains gunpowder.

Alec Baldwin and Halyna Hutchins on the set of Rust in the last known photograph before she was killed

Prop guns on movie sets are commonly loaded with blank cartridges, or blanks, which contain gunpowder but no solid projectile.

A firearm is considered “live” when it contains gunpowder, regardless of whether it is loaded with a blank or real ammunition.

Investigators looking into the Rust shooting are still working to determine what kind of round was fired from Baldwin’s gun and who loaded it, Santa Fe County District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies told The New York Times on Tuesday.

Ms Carmack-Altwies indicated criminal charges are still possible in the shooting, saying she “hadn’t ruled anything out”.

The top prosecutor on the case also said it was misleading to describe the weapon as a “prop gun,” explaining: “It was an antique-era appropriate gun.”

According to a court affidavit, the gun had been placed on a cart outside the church by the movie’s armourer Hannah Gutierrez Reed, and was handed to Baldwin by assistant director Dave Halls.

Mr Halls said it was a “cold gun”, indicating it did not contain live rounds.

Baldwin fired the weapon when he pointed it at the camera while practising a “cross draw” inside a church, the affidavit said.

In the moments after the shooting, Baldwin repeatedly asked why he had been handed a “hot gun”, witnesses said.

“In all my years, I’ve never been handed a hot gun,” he reportedly said.

Officials with the Santa Fe County district attorney’s office and sheriff’s department are slated to hold a press conference on the case on Wednesday at 12pm EST.

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