A little over a year ago cinematographer Halyna Hutchins was fatally shot by Alec Baldwin on the set of the movie Rust.

It is my understanding they were filming a scene where Baldwin’s character aims his gun at the camera and fires. The gun Baldwin used had live ammunition in it and Ms. Hutchins, who was behind the camera, was shot and killed while the movie’s director, Joel Souza, was hit in the shoulder.

The event is an indisputable tragedy and, further, should never, never, never have happened.

It is abundantly clear someone on the movie’s staff was very careless with either checking the guns used on the set or HUGELY irresponsible in bringing live ammo there. Alec Baldwin was handed a gun that obviously did not have blanks in it and therefore the tragedy happened.

Yesterday, prosecutors decided to charge Alec Baldwin and Hannah Gutierrez Reed, the movie’s armorer, with involuntary manslaughter.

Though I don’t know the intimate details of the charges. SAG-AFTRA, the actors’ guild, came out with a response to these charges against Alec Baldwin…

SAG-AFTRA Defends Alec Baldwin Over ‘Rust’ Charges, Calls Prosecutor ‘Wrong and Uninformed’ – IndieWire

They state:

The guidelines do not make it the performer’s responsibility to check any firearm. Performers train to perform, and they are not required or expected to be experts on guns or experienced in their use. The industry assigns that responsibility to qualified professionals who oversee their use and handling in every aspect. Anyone issued a firearm on set must be given training and guidance in its safe handling and use, but all activity with firearms on a set must be under the careful supervision and control of the professional armorer and the employer.

I agree with this.

However -and I could very well be wrong here- I believe Mr. Baldwin is being charged as the producer of the movie rather than the “actor” within. As a producer, he then may have some responsibility in making sure the set is safe. However, given the way credits are doled out in movies, his “producer” role may have been in name only.

The big question, unanswered to this point, is how live rounds made their way to this movie set. I suspect we may never get an answer to that.

Ms. Reed, the armorer, has stated she thought the ammunition within the gun was “dummy” rounds.

Either way, tragedy occurred and now we have charges brought forward.

I have to wonder, given today’s technology and the use of CGI effects, why any movie set has to have a “real” gun in it, even if it is watched and checked diligently.

Why, I wonder, aren’t there studios who have warehouses full of dummy guns which realistically “kick” when fired but cannot actually be loaded with real ammunition? In post-production studios can add sound effects and CGI flashes for the gunshots and at least that way everyone is far safer, no?