Alec Baldwin’s Accident

Thoughts from John Hindraker. It was clearly an accident, and we don’t have all the facts yet, but it could be negligent homicide. Baldwin is responsible not just as the puller of the trigger, but as the producer on the set. And it’s another demonstration of how people who want to ban guns are ignorant of them and their safe use.

[Sunday-morning update]

Small world:

55 thoughts on “Alec Baldwin’s Accident”

  1. I agree that it depends on what Baldwin was doing when it happened. If he was filming a scene, then he (knowing nothing about guns apparently) has to depend on the director, stunt coordinator, and prop guy to insure safety. If they tell him it’s safe to fire the gun in a specific way and in a specific direction, it’s reasonable for him to accept that as fact.

    On the other hand, the second the scene is over, he becomes responsible for the safe handling of the weapon. That means assuming it is loaded (no matter what the prop guy said) and never pointing the gun in an unsafe direction. If he was really clowning around (as some reports say) then he is guilty of involuntary manslaughter.

    No matter how it went through, he (as the producer) is ultimately responsible for safety on the set. Even if it turns out to be a mistake made by the prop guy, Baldwin hired him after firing the union crew. So while he might not go to jail, her family can sue him for wrongful death.

    1. I’m skeptical that he being a producer matters. A lot of films have a long list of producers, often the title is honorary and given for monetary support in making the movie. The title isn’t important. It matters what specific responsibilities he had.

      This was a safety failure at many levels and while Baldwin is culpable at at least the level of trigger puller, there are other people who share blame as well.

      1. “I’m skeptical that he being a producer matters. A lot of films have a long list of producers, often the title is honorary and given for monetary support in making the movie. The title isn’t important. ”

        You are right and I think the “honorary” producer is the “executive producer”

        But the one listed in the credits as “Producer” is the actual producer.

      2. An Executive Producer might be honorary. Typically the Executive Producer(s) are the funding source of the production. The Producer, or in this case Co-Producers (2 of them), manage the production. They are responsible for meeting budget, hiring the crew, and production operations. If this set was as unsafe as has now been reported, I don’t know how Baldwin, the co-producer, isn’t clearly negligent if not reckless. He’s a producer and on the set that day and at that moment.

        I think he is more responsible as Producer than as Actor. After all, an Actor could be told be the Assistant Director the gun is safe and told by the Director where to point to firearm and when to pull the trigger. I could find reasonable doubt even for negligence in that situation. Especially if the Producer set up an environment in which the Actor was under the impression they didn’t need to worry about knowing the condition of the “prop gun”. In short, if another actor on the set had pulled the trigger under the hypothetical conditions described, I’d be hard-pressed to see them as guilty without some other circumstances (such as routine training that they are responsible for verify the firearm’s condition or a verbal comment about wanting to shoot somebody).

  2. Actors Adam Baldwin (no relation) and Nick Searcy, both rare Hollywood conservatives, are covering the inside scoop on movie weapons handling procedures on Twitter. Plus everyone should follow them just on principle.


    1. This was posted by Adam Baldwin, it’s from “Actors’ Equity Association” an actor union.

      -Use simulated or dummy weapons whenever possible.
      -Treat all guns as if they are loaded and deadly.
      -Unless you are actually performing or rehearsing, the property master must secure all firearms.
      -The property master or armorer should carefully train you in the safe use of any firearm you must handle. Be honest if you have no knowledge about guns. Do not overstate your qualifications.
      -Follow all instructions given by the qualified instructor.
      -Never engage in horseplay with any firearms or other weapons. Do not let others handle the gun for any reason.
      -All loading of firearms must be done by the property master, armorer or experienced persons working under their direct supervision.
      -Never point a firearm at anyone including yourself. Always cheat the shot by aiming to the right or left of the target character. If asked to point and shoot directly at a living target, consult with the property master or armorer for the prescribed safety procedures.
      -If you are the intended target of a gunshot, make sure that the person firing at you has followed all these safety procedures.
      -If you are required to wear exploding blood squibs, make sure there is a bulletproof vest or other solid protection between you and the blast packet.
      -Use protective shields for all off stage cast within close proximity to any shots fired.
      -Appropriate ear protection should be offered to the cast members and stage managers.
      -Check the firearm every time you take possession of it. Before each use, make sure the gun has been test-fired off stage and then ask to test fire it yourself. Watch the prop master check the cylinders and barrel to be sure no foreign object or dummy bullet has become lodged inside.
      -Blanks are extremely dangerous. Even though they do not fire bullets out of the gun barrel, they still have a powerful blast than can maim or kill.
      -Never attempt to adjust, modify or repair a firearm yourself. If a weapon jams or malfunctions, corrections shall be made only by a qualified person.
      -When a scene is completed, the property master shall unload the firearms. All weapons must be cleaned, checked and inventoried after each performance.
      -Live ammunition may not be brought into the theatre.
      -If you are in a production where shots are to be fired and there is no qualified property master, go to the nearest phone and call Actors’ Equity Association. A union representative will make sure proper procedures are followed.
      -State and federal safety laws must be honored at all times.
      -If any of the above safety tips conflict with the instructions given by a qualified instructor, abide by the instructions from the qualified instructor. If you are still not sure, contact your Equity Business Representative.

      1. Good rules. However, TMZ is now reporting that crew members were using the very weapon for target practice.

        So let’s run down the rules violated:
        – They used real firearms on the set, not prop or dummy weapons.
        – By Alec Baldwins own comments after the shooting, he presumed the weapon was not loaded or deadly when it was handed to him.
        – The weapons were not secured between rehearsals or performances, they were used for target practice.
        – Others were handling the firearms and depending on purpose of target practice, likely for horseplay.
        – The firearm was pointed at somebody.
        – The firearm was not checked by Alec Baldwin when he took possession of it, as his comments suggest he assumed it was “cold”.
        – Live ammunition was not just brought onto the set, but commingled with blanks.

        Those rules are pretty damning of the armorer. I think it a bit unfair to put all liability there, as production should have responsibility for vetting the armorer and assuring a safe production environment. About the only rule carefully followed is if “safety tips conflict with the instructions given by a qualified instructor, abide by the instructions given by a qualified instructor.” It seems the dual use of firearms for production and target shooting was allowed by the instructors.

          1. It’s a Western set in the 1870’s. The gun is likely a single-action revolver with a loading gate instead of a swing-out cylinder or a break-open action. I’m not in the movie business, but revolvers seem like they’d be kind of nasty in that you’re supposed to be able to see the bullets along the sides of the cylinder (the 2’oclock, 4’oclock, 8’oclock and 10’oclock positions)–even non-firing prop guns would look like they were loaded.

            I don’t know the details–this was supposed to be a rehearsal, but I don’t know if it was a rehearsal immediately prior to actual filming. If it was just a walk-through, it sure seems like he should have been given a rubber gun, and even a Baldwin should have been able to tell the difference between a rubber gun and a live gun. If they were going to immediately start filming, maybe he would have been given a live gun.

  3. The assistant director who handed the gun to Baldwin, Dave Halls, was also an AD on the set of “The Crow: Salvation”, which was the same franchise as “The Crow” where Brandon Lee was shot and killed. Brandon Lee of course connects back to Bruce Lee.

    What I’m saying is that there’s an evil spirit that is jumping from gun to gun via various members of the crew. It lurks for years before bursting forth to claim another victim, hiding in The Twilight Zone.

      1. Or is it?!

        *cue scary music*

        “Meet Alec Baldwin, veteran actor and producer with anger issues, whose troubled movie set is about the enter … The Twilight Zone.”

      2. Unless you believe in conspiracy theories. Lee was supposedly shot with a .44, and none of the guns on set were .44 caliber (I’d think most would have been 9 mm).

        1. .44 is not at all uncommon for ‘western’ style guns….Single action revolvers. These days, a .45 might be more common, but .44-40 is a classic ‘western’ cartridge.

          9mm? Not so much – not at all authentic, and would require a special cylinder to get the round to fit correctly (9mm and many semiauto calibers ‘headspace’ on the edge of the cartridge, not the rim like the western calibers do. It can be made to work, but reloading would be quite different and visible on screen for any such scenes.

          1. Sorry, I wasn’t explicit enough. We’d shifted context to Brandon Lee; he was shot on the set of The Crow’s sequel. According to some article I read they had dug a .44 caliber bullet out of him. Yeah, in a Western a bullet that size wouldn’t be at all unusual.

          2. Brandon Lee died on the set of the first Crow movie, not the sequel.

            There are a number of scenes in the original movie that were either CGI or a body double, or both, to make up for footage that hadn’t been filmed prior to his death.

            I was at a very impressionable age when that movie came out and between that and The Highlander spent an inordinate amount of time with long hair and in black trenchcoats as a result…

  4. Blanks can indeed be dangerous. At least one actor died from that; he put a gun loaded with a blank to his head, and thus fired a chunk of his skull into his brain.

    If indeed, as Hindraker postulates, the scene involved firing at the camera, it still leaves many questions, such as exactly what the gun was loaded with, and how and why. I can see no reason why real ammo would ever even be around a gun used on-set.

    There’s also the question of what was fired; the police haven’t said. That leaves open the possibility that it was something stuck in the barrel. Hypothetically, the gun was dropped, and a pebble lodged in it. (still, that ought to have been checked).

    If this is a failure of procedure, then far more likely that the person libel is the producer, not the actor. If it was inappropriate behavior of the actor (say, pointing the gun at someone and pulling the trigger) then it’s the actor who is liable. However, both are Alec Baldwin.

    As for this being a “low budget” movie, I see that point being whipped up far beyond reason. I agree with others who’ve said this is being done for a reason; a kind of an excuse. It’s preposterous. You want low budget? When I was in high school, I was part of several class project video productions (TV productions was the class – this was an area where the TV and movie industry was a huge part of the local scene). Class rules were explicit; project budgets could not exceed $20. (And last time I looked, $20 is less than 6 million). Was a gun involved in one? Yup (saner times – couldn’t happen today). That gun was a cap gun, and you know what? Somebody (sometimes me) checked to make certain that’s what it was, and that it was safe, before AND after every scene it was in. (Likewise other props too; it was, after all, a prep class for the TV production industry). So, I’m calling BS on the excuse that because the movie was “low budget”, somehow that’s why basic gun safety wasn’t followed.

    1. 100% agreement – low budget should not / does not imply unsafe. It’s not like you need to be unionized to understand and implement firearms safety rules.

      Methinks Mr. Alec Baldwin has really screwed up his life now.

      1. Methinks Alec Baldwin really screwed up his life long before now, but money makes up for a lot.

        1. How much does it cost for an actor, who strongly supports gun control laws, to not participate in an endeavor that provides celebrity to the use of firearms?

          How many times does Glenn Reynolds need to say, “I’ll believe there is an issue, when they act like there is an issue?”

          I support the second amendment, but I don’t feel the need to mess around with firearms as performance art. If you do it, do it like Keanu Reeves and get lots of tactical training, so you know what you are doing.

          1. Yes. And Keanu Reeves… I was thinking more Clint Eastwood. This was a western, how many of those has he done, even low budget ones, without a single incident like this?

          2. I bet Eastwood was very familiar with handling the guns he used and would test their condition as a matter of habit.

    2. Clerks was a low budget movie. One ending that didn’t make it into the final film was an armed robbery, with the main character shot, his dying words “I wasn’t supposed to be here today”. It was too much of a downer so they changed the ending.

      That film was shot for 25 thousand dollars. Nobody got killed.

  5. Still no word on how in the hell Alec Baldwin manages to fire a handgun, any handgun, and kills one person and injures a second, with one round.

    1. Apparently, the bullet passed through the female victim (who died) and then struck the male victim, who was not seriously wounded. Bullets do pass through human bodies from time to time.

      1. Ah, the magic bullet theory!

        This question has been the primary stumper for me surrounding this story, but you’re right that a single bullet could do the trick.

        Freak accidents in movie production have happened in the past, and will happen in the future. From Brandon Lee’s death in a similar gunshot accident to Vic Morrow, Myca Dinh Le and Renee Shin-Yi Chen deaths when beheaded by helicopter blades in Twilight Zone: The Movie, to pilot Paul Mantz’ death in making Flight of the Phoenix, accidents have happened on movie sets that have taken lives.

        I’ve been a guest on at least one movie set where a dangerous scene was being filmed, that of Desperate Measures (Michael Keaton, Andy Garcia, 1998). An entire, full scale hospital façade had been built in an an aircraft hangar across the street from my company, consisting of two building fronts connected by a bridge about three stories up. A climactic scene was the explosive demolition of that bridge.

        I still remember the crew safety briefing before the scene was shot. It was very impressive, and highly professional. The actual explosions were even more impressive, but no one was at any risk because these people knew what they were doing.

        Perhaps we can stand up a Federal Agency that can regulate movie production such that there is no risk to anyone in the future. Then, maybe, the entertainment industry will become much more right-wing, as their production costs drive their box office into consistently negative territory.

        It’s tragic that this happened. My evaluation of Baldwin has always been quite mixed, but I couldn’t wish the trauma this must cause him and the victims on anyone.

        1. He has been in some good movies, good in large part due to his performance, but he is a shitbag human being.

  6. There are a lot of things that are still not known. I’ve seen the gun being described as a prop weapon that was handed to Baldwin by the assistant director and believed to not have a “live round” in it, but turns out it did. And by live round, was the round a blank (a loaded shell without the bullet) or was it indeed an actual loaded shell with a bullet? The fatal injury would suggest an actual bullet was fired from the weapon.

    Also, was the weapon discharged as part of a scene, or was it Baldwin just be a jerk, playing around and pointing a weapon at someone and pulling the trigger. If it was him playing around, the death of the women is completely on him, whether it was intentional or not. The first rule of gun safety is to always treat a weapon as loaded and never, ever point it at someone and pull the trigger unless you intend to shoot them.

    1. It gets worse. There are reports this morning that in off hours, the crew had taken that exact pistol to a range and were shooting live ammo. Obviously, someone failed to check the weapon before it was brought back to the set. The weapons expert was a 24 year old woman whose father is an accomplished professional in the movie industry. This was her second movie as the lead armorer.

      1. The armorer in question is Hannah Gutierrez. Everyone should do a web search for her and decide if she seems like the sort of person they would want in charge of weapons.

        1. Ah yes, seems Miss Gutierrez is a dominatrix and goth model who began to moonlight as an armorer on movie sets. Seems her father’s reputation obviously helped her get jobs when the simps money ran out.

          Talk about being the perfect poster child of a purple-haired diversity hire, but hey, she was probably dirt-cheap to hire.

      2. Seriously, a gun intended to be used as a prop on a movie set was allowed to be taken from the set and used with real ammo at a gun range? And we are sitting here wondering how such an accident could occur? If true, negligent homicide doesn’t even begin to describe what happened.

    2. “I’ve seen the gun being described as a prop weapon that was handed to Baldwin by the assistant director and believed to not have a “live round” in it, but turns out it did.”

      When dealing with deadly weapons “belief” is not good enough. People make mistakes, which is why gun enthusiasts assume ALL weapons are loaded and don’t point them at people and things they don’t intend to shoot. If Baldwin was in a scene that required him to pull the trigger, it was HIS responsibility to check the gun. It doesn’t matter what the AD said, or what the director said , or what the armorer said. None of those folks had possession of the gun when it was fired. None of them was going to be pulling the trigger.

      1. “Talent” can’t be trusted to put their shoes on the right feet or to come inside when it’s raining. They’re paid to have pretty faces and to lie on camera. Trusting talent to know the difference between a live round and a blank is like trusting a senator to understand arithmetic.

        If the pistol was supposed to be loaded with blanks, Baldwin could not have been expected to be able to know the difference, and should not be expected to unload every round, check them (shake them and see if they rattle?), and reload them properly (frankly, if an actor unloaded and reloaded a gun, the gun should immediately be taken from him and given to the armorer to do it over properly before letting the scene proceed). Perhaps Baldwin should have realized that he had been handed a live gun instead of a rubber gun for the rehearsal, but again, that’s trusting talent to have some awareness.

        1. The gun was declared to be ‘cold’, meaning it wasn’t loaded at all. Even a doofus ought to be able to verify that, especially with a revolver. And yet no one did.

          1. Well, Baldwin does make a doofus look good.

            On his behalf (and I really don’t like arguing for Baldwin), actors (especially the stars) work stupid long hours and often take drugs morning and night to conk them out or wake them up. Maybe they shouldn’t be handling guns under such circumstances, but Hollywood would shut down if they didn’t. Not that that’s a bad thing.

  7. No such thing as a firearms accident – just negligence on someone’s part. Like Ms. Tam said, monkeys handling firearms.

    1. The terminology is important and the media often gets it wrong. There is no accidental discharge, its almost always a negligent discharge. A prop gun is a fake gun, not a real gun used as a prop. At the best of times people mix all of this up but I suspect there is an intentional effort to muddy the waters here to protect Baldwin in the media.

    2. I saw a video some time back of a bunch of African soldiers goofing off. There’s a chimp hanging around cadging food. Then one of the soldiers hands the chimp his weapon. The chimp looks at it, assumes a credible firing stance, puts his finger on the trigger, and opens up on them. I guess the idiot left his weapon on full auto…

        1. That’s the video I was remembering. So is that real or is it from a movie? I can’t tell. Watching stupid internet videos is what I do when I’m almost braindead. Russian traffic accidents, etc.

      1. So Baldwin’s movie crew should be thanking providence that the movie is a Western and not a modern military thriller? Mein Gott! Alec Baldwin might’ve been responsible for a massacre!

  8. Regarding the not so-surprising coincidence of the Baldwin-Clinton connection …

    “It’s a big club — and you ain’t in it!” — George Carlin

  9. Reminds me of the exchange in Red October since Alec Baldwin played Jack Ryan.

    “Be careful with that. Most things in here don’t react well to bullets.”
    “Yeah, like me… *I* don’t react well to bullets…”

    He’s a decent actor, not a fan of his politics, but killing someone accidentally or negligently will mess with a person’s entire being, and for that I am sorrowful.

    1. I am only sorrowful for the victims of homicide by the hypocrite Baldwin.

      As Seb Gorkha said, all of this would have been prevented if the rabid anti-gunner Baldwin had taken, once in his life, an NRA firearms safety course….Life lessons like always treat guns like they are loaded, don’t aim at anything you’re not ready to kill, keep your finger off the trigger until you’re ready to shoot, and ALWAYS BE SURE OF YOUR TARGET, and WHAT IS BEHIND it..

      As the Executive Producer, he is the ultimate responsibility on the set…His decision to allow off-camera ‘target shooting;, to employ an at best underqualified armorer, etc is solely on him, as is the death of Ms. Hutchins, and the wounding of Mr Souza.

      Assistant Directors (the abbreviation for which is also the abbreviation for ‘Accidental Discharge’ should not be handling firearms – that is the armorers job. There should NEVER be live ammo on a set like that, because of what obviously happened. A 24-year old former model may have been trained since she was a teen (what, five whole years of casual training?’ to be an armorer, but with a ‘star’ like Baldwin, with a history of misbehavior on the set (the entire previous armorer crew walked out earlier that day) perhaps she was not the best choice..

    2. I used to be a submarine machinery mechanic, including boomers. When that movie came out, I mainly remember thinking mostly the bullets would bounce around from various steel surfaces.

    1. As mentioned before: Reciprocal punishment would require AB to spend 15 minutes in a concrete bunker with a chimpanzee in a locked open cage with a handgun. If he emerges alive fine, justice is served either way. Schrodinger’s Thespian.

  10. A few points:
    – “They used real firearms on the set, not prop or dummy weapons.” That’s not uncommon, though more and more films are using replicas and adding fire and smoke via SFX. Family members have worked on sets with real firearms used. Sometimes with real bullets.
    – There are some differences in movie terms. “Live ammo” includes blanks. “Prop” means handled by the actors, so a real gun and a replica are both prop guns.
    – The reports are that the AD grabbed a gun from the armorers cart and handed it to Baldwin shouting “Cold Gun” (i.e. no live ammo in it).
    – In the movie world, the actors are not to check the loads in a gun by themselves. The armorer does that, preferably while the actor watches, hands the gun to the actor, and announces “Hot Gun” (loaded) or “Cold Gun” as appropriate. If the actor decides to check for themselves, the armorer is supposed to take the gun back immediately and check it, repeating the above. Actors are assumed to have zero gun knowledge.
    – the list of points for actors above is for stage productions – the giveaway is mention of Actors’ Equity. AE represents stage actors. SAG-AFTRA represents film and TV actors.

    1. Thanks.

      I was watching something on YouTube that reported that Baldwin was practicing drawing the gun when he shot the woman. That seems weird to me–he would have either had to have the gun holstered with the hammer back or have thumbed (or fanned) the hammer back while drawing. Not impossible, of course, it just makes me doubt the reporting.

      Right now the reporting seems to be picking the armorer for the fall-entity. She’s certainly culpable, but I’d think Baldwin is also, both top (as producer) and bottom (as the guy who pulled the trigger).

      Baldwin might do more for Hollywood gun control than he’s ever done for civilian gun control.

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