Firearms expert on what went wrong for Alec Baldwin on the set of 'Rust'

Cinematographer Halyna Hutchins was shot dead and director Joel Souza was wounded. How did this happen?

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The investigation continues in terms of what went wrong on the set of Rust, a Western that was being shot in New Mexico. The crux of the story: after being handed a gun by the assistant director and told that it was “cold” (i.e., safe to use), the film’s star, Alec Baldwin, pulled the trigger. To everyone’s horror, that firearm was not a cold gun — Alec Baldwin was brandishing a loaded weapon.

The end result: cinematographer Halyna Hutchins was shot dead and director Joel Souza was wounded.

Was this a case of incompetence or negligence — or a baffling blend of both? Even more baffling is that there was an armourer on the set of Rust. Her only job was to ensure the guns being used in the movie were safe.

So how was it that real ammunition made its way into that “cold” gun in the first place (as opposed to dummies or blanks)?

With every passing day, more information regarding the Rust fiasco emerges.

As the investigation continues, we reached out to Ron Craig, an Oakville, Ont.-based firearms and explosives expert to weigh-in on what likely went wrong on the set.

Ron is a veteran of some 90 movies and 156 TV episodes in which he was responsible for the firearms and explosives used on the set. And over the years he has witnessed firsthand situations that could’ve ended tragically due to crew members not subscribing to the mantra of “safety first.”

Indeed, all the more chilling is that Halyna Hutchins is not a one-off film set causality. Others have also been needlessly killed on sets over the decades due to a lack of proper protocols and procedures vis-à-vis firearm etiquette (perhaps the most notable firearms fatality being Brandon Lee, who died on the set of The Crow in 1993.)

As Ron Craig notes, all of the fatalities on movie sets due to guns could’ve and should’ve been prevented simply by simply adhering to the rules. In fact, Ron relates a story in which he stood up to an overzealous director on the set of a movie several years ago; had the director had his way, an actress would’ve been shot dead.

It’s shameful. Movies are all about make-believe; movies should not be about real-life tragedy due to shockingly neglectful behaviour.

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  • By David Menzies

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