A Los Angeles City Councilman introduced a resolution Wednesday to support legislation that would eliminate live guns and ammunition from television and movie productions, following the on-set death of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins in New Mexico by a prop weapon fired by actor Alec Baldwin.
“While movies can be convincing and very realistic — they are supposed to be make-believe,” said Councilman Paul Koretz, who introduced the resolution. “A single gun accident, let alone a fatality, like the one that occurred on the `Rust’ set and the ones that killed Brandon Lee and Jon-Erik Huxum destroy the lives of not only the victims and their families, but the lives of the other actors and crew who forever after are burdened with the emotional trauma of avoidable accidents.
“The idea that even one misfire has caused danger is outrageous,” he continued. “The clear solution is banishing live guns and ammunition from the sets of television and motion picture productions to eliminate all possibility of human error in the handling of weapons so that flawless oversight and restrictions guarantee that these kinds of accidents never happen again.”
On Oct. 21, Baldwin, 63, was rehearsing a scene outside a church on the set of the western “Rust” south of Santa Fe, New Mexico, when he discharged the prop weapon, killing the 42-year-old Hutchins and injuring the film’s director, Joel Souza, 48.
The film’s first assistant director, David Halls, reportedly did not check for rounds in the weapon before handing it to Baldwin and shouting “cold gun,” the term for a weapon that is safe to fire. He had picked up one of three guns from a mobile cart that had been prepared by the production’s armorer, Hannah Gutierrez Reed.
The death of Hutchins has renewed concerns about on-set safety. A half-dozen camera crew workers had walked off the “Rust” set hours before the fatal shooting, protesting working conditions, including long hours, safety conditions and issues getting their paychecks. According to multiple reports, Hutchins had been advocating for safer conditions for her team.
One person who was on the set told the Los Angeles Times there had been two misfires involving the prop gun on Saturday, and one the previous week.
The “Rust” production company issued a statement saying, “The safety of our cast and crew is the top priority of Rust Productions and everyone associated with the company. Though we were not made aware of any official complaints concerning weapon or prop safety on set, we will be conducting an internal review of our procedures while production is shut down. We will continue to cooperate with the Santa Fe authorities in their investigation and offer mental health services to the cast and crew during this tragic time.”
A crew member on the film, Serge Svetnoy, took to Facebook on Sunday and said the shooting was the result of “negligence and unprofessionalism” on the set.
“The negligence from the person who was supposed to check the weapon on the site did not do this; the person who had to announce that the loaded gun was on the site did not do this; the person who should have checked this weapon before bringing it to the set did not do it,” Svetnoy wrote.
In response to Hutchins’ death, the showrunner of the ABC police drama “The Rookie” announced that “live” weapons would no longer be used on the set, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
Showrunner Alexi Hawley announced the change in a memo to the show’s staff, saying “all gunfire on set will be with airsoft guns with CG muzzle flashes added in post. There will be no more `live’ weapons on the show. The safety of our cast and crew is too important. Any risk is too much risk.’
New Mexico authorities said Wednesday that it is still too early in their investigation to comment on whether criminal charges will be filed in the death.