Actor Alec Baldwin fatally shoots cinematographer on film set

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Joseph Chun, Reporter

On Oct. 21, actor Alec Baldwin shot cinematographer Halyna Hutchins and injured other staff members while filming a gun scene on the set of the upcoming film “Rust.”

Alec Baldwin was handed a prop gun loaded with blank cartridges by one of the crew members after he mistakenly shouted out “cold gun,” a term used to indicate that the gun has no ammunition loaded. While rehearsing one of the scenes, Alec Baldwin pointed the gun towards the camera and fired two shots, hitting Hutchins on her chest and director Joel Souza on his shoulder. 

Though Hutchins was immediately brought to a hospital, her life could not be saved. The following day, Baldwin delivered his remorseful apology for Hutchins’s death on social media.

“There are no words to convey my shock and sadness regarding the tragic accident that took the life of Halyna Hutchins, a wife, mother and deeply admired colleague of ours,” Baldwin posted on his Twitter account. “My heart is broken for her husband, their son, and all who knew and loved Halyna.”

Though no legal charges have been filed against Baldwin for now, the Sheriff’s Office maintains that it will continue its investigation on the case by further examining evidence as it surfaces. 

Meanwhile, following the incident, a heated debate as to whether Alec Baldwin or the film crew that employed lax safety precautions is responsible for the accident is ongoing. 

Gun experts have condemned Alec Baldwin for violating the No. 1 rule of gun safety –  never direct the muzzle at another person, whether the gun is loaded or not. But according to Laurie Levenson, former federal prosecutor, the criminal justice system also crucially considers whether the shooter had knowledge of ammunition being loaded. Thus, the fact that Baldwin was merely following instructions from the film crew reduces his guilt of violating the rule. 

“Rather than Alec Baldwin, the film crew who checked the weapon before it was handed to Baldwin should face prosecution,” Brandon Choi (10), Baldwin supporter, said. 

Indeed, the safety of the cast and crew was clearly overlooked, according to a crew member. The film crew skipped safety meetings, ignored the procedure for handling prop guns, and could not afford a gun expert due to the low budget.

“The fact that simple safety protocols in the film industry including gun inspections were not followed in the set is absurd,” Brandon said.

Notwithstanding his low culpability, Baldwin has faced public indignation due to his subsequent actions. On Oct. 31, Hilaria Baldwin, Alec’s wife, shared pictures of her family smiling and enjoying Halloween on Instagram. Though some fans commented supportive messages, others found the post inappropriate.

“It was crass and disrespectful of Baldwin to post a lighthearted picture only a few days after the incident occurred,” Tim Gardes, avid movie fan, said. “Regardless of intent, Baldwin was directly involved in the gunshot, and he should currently be having a period of mourning.”

In a broader context, the Baldwin gunshot incident alerts future directors to the dangers of neglecting safety precautions in the entertainment industry.

“When filming potentially dangerous scenes, safety is paramount. The overall process in the set needs to be controlled,” Shawn Meicklejohn, drama teacher, said. “Producers require a large sum of money on the set background, equipment, and stuntmen to create realistic yet regulated scenes. Directors would need to reconsider the consequences of putting safety at stake for a lower budget.”