Alec Baldwin, A Cold Gun, and Tragedy on a Movie Set

John Walter Raney 1st
Alec Baldwin image courtesy of Gage Skidmore.Copyright free and public domain images courtesy of Wikimedia commons

As I began to write this story about this tragedy what struck me right away was the memory I had of two similar incidents that occurred decades apart but still seemed fresh to me because of the questions of what went wrong to allow such a grievous lack of safety on a Movie set? The first memory was of John Erik Hexum, who in 1984 was an actor who was often compared to Tom Selleck in terms of potential, in between scenes for his TV series Cover Up, he loaded a .44 magnum that was to be used in the next scene with one blank cartridge. During a delay in shooting he began to play an impromptu game of Russian roulette with some crew members, and putting the gun to his temple, the blank fired, and as blanks use paper or plastic wadding to seal gunpowder into the cartridge, the wadding smashed into his head with enough force to fracture his skull, although not actually penetrating his skin, a portion of his skull was lodged in his brain, and six days later this promising young star was declared brain dead at age 26 of an accidental self-inflicted gunshot wound.

The next time I remember hearing of a similar incident was with Brandon Lee, the son of legendary martial arts actor Bruce Lee. While he was filming a scene from the Movie “The Crow” was shot and killed in 1993 during filming. He was shot in the stomach by a gun which was loaded with improperly made “ dummy rounds” which led to a partially stuck bullet in the chamber to be propelled forward with enough force that it was equal to a live round. He died at age 28 in 1993 and the shooting was eventually ruled an act of negligence.

Alec Baldwins movie “Rust”, in which Baldwin, during a rehearsal scene was handed a gun which the crew was assured was a “cold gun”. Meaning it had no live ammunition in the chambers. But in fact, the gun, a .45 colt long revolver was loaded with a live round, and it proved to be deadly. The film’s cinematographer, Halyna Hutchins, 42, was standing just a few feet away as the gun was fired and she was struck in the chest by a bullet that passed through her and then hit the director of the film Joel Sousa. And the question remains why was there any live ammunition on the set, where it is usually forbidden? What could have caused such confusion on the set that the most basic gun safety rules weren’t checked and double-checked. Clues to the confusion are slowly emerging as the movie was plagued by production delays and just the night before the shooting six members of the camera crew had resigned, citing issues of late paychecks and a lack of adequate hotel accommodations. And in the days leading up to the shooting, tensions were rising as there were two separate incidents of accidental gun discharges. Adding to these concerns was the relative inexperience of the movie’s armorer, who was in charge of all the weaponry on the set. Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, who at age 24 was just beginning her career as a head armorer. In a recent podcast, she spoke of her work on her first movie as a head armorer, a western titled “ The Old Way” in which she said she almost didn’t take the job because she was not sure she was ready.

During the morning of the incident the actors assembled on the set of "Rust" and prepared to shoot the scene, the words “cold gun !” was heard as the weapon was handed to Alec Baldwin, and when he began to practice his draw for the scene, the gun fired, striking Halyna Hutchins and then the director Joel Souza. Ms. Hutchins died a short while later after being transported to a hospital in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Mr. Souza was taken to a separate hospital where they extracted the bullet made of lead proving that indeed the gun was loaded with and fired a live round. The investigation is continuing.

Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, through her lawyers, said she has no idea where the live rounds came from. Hopefully this incident, at the very least, underscores the need for experience and quality in the on a movie set among those in charge of safety and compliance while handling firearms. And the tragedy remains for all those involved in this incident, from the cinematographer who lost her life and the pain her family is feeling, to those who are left to suffer the guilt and pain of knowing that Halyna Hutchins's death might have been avoided with more stringent safety measures on set.

John Walter Raney 1st

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My mission is to grow as a writer, take my already somewhat prolific knowledge base and apply it here to Newsbreak. I have a unique writing style and a unique voice that has a following, I'd like to expand my audience and create articles that people will want to read as they see my name attached to them. I'd rather die of passion than boredom across many different life paths and areas of interest. Father, Son, Brother, Lover, Teacher, Learner - In a world that's thirsty for words I've got plenty to drink .

Setauket- East Setauket, NY

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