Following the tragic shooting death of the cinematographer of the movie “Rust“, Alec Baldwin Tweeted “Every film/TV set that uses guns, fake or otherwise, should have a police officer on set, hired by the production, to specifically monitor weapons safety.” On the surface, it’s easy to see why someone outside of the firearms community would suggest this, police officers carry guns every day, right? The required training and yearly qualifications should, “qualify” them as someone in the know, yes? It makes sense that Alec Baldwin, unintentional shooter of Halyna Hutchins would be looking for answers and remedies to his situation. Let’s explore his suggestion about hiring police officers to inspect on-set firearms in the film industry.
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SHOULD FILM PRODUCTIONS HIRE POLICE FOR FIREARM SAFETY?
I think it’s fair to say that no one wants to end up in Alec Baldwin’s shoes, having shot and killed someone unintentionally. Thus, he’s looking for fixes, that reportedly he actually could’ve fixed from the outset of the film “Rust”, of which he was the Producer. According to an LA Times report, one crew member texted the following to a unit production manager before the fatal shooting:
We’ve now had 3 accidental discharges. This is super unsafe.
It is true, police officers carry guns on their hips every day, or at least every day they’re at work, but it doesn’t automatically give each officer a perfect safety record. It should also be noted that not every police officer is a “gun person”, nor does it mean that every officer knows how to handle or operate the wide variety of guns displayed in films. I’ve personally witnessed a negligent discharge on a police firing line and heard of several others in my state alone, at least two of which injured themselves. Alec Baldwin’s statement seems to be a general nod towards police officers, which is a bad idea, so we can only hope that he means knowledgeable officers with deeper experience levels. I think Hollywood can do better though.
Each time we, as firearms enthusiasts pick up a gun, be it in our home, at the local gun store, or at the shooting range, it’s our own responsibility on how we handle that gun. We’re also responsible for loading the correct ammunition, every time. Handing off the responsibility to someone else sounds neat and tidy, but it’s really just a cop out. Rather than rely on a certain “qualified” occupation, it may be time for the actors themselves to load each round of ammunition, blank or otherwise, they’ll fire. Or, if they’re supposed to be pulling the trigger on a “dry” or “cold” gun, they should be checking that gun for their own assurance. It certainly wouldn’t hurt if they’re also doing this in the presence of an on-set armorer and the person they’ll be pointing the gun at.
It’s time Hollywood takes a lesson from guys like Keanu Reeves that have taken the time to learn how to handle firearms, and apply it across the board. Actors and producers don’t have to like guns or the Second Amendment, but they should respect their fellow crew and cast members enough to show that they are being responsible with the guns and ammunition their industry relies on.
What do you think? Should police officers replace or support existing Set Armorers? Or should the responsibility be layered to include the actors themselves?