Nolte: 15 Things That Reportedly Went Wrong on Alec Baldwin's Deadly 'Rust' Set

Nolte: 15 Things That Reportedly Went Wrong on Alec Baldwin's Deadly 'Rust' Set

Last week, on the set of the Western Rust, Alec Baldwin accidentally shot and killed cinematographer Halyna Hutchins, a 42-year-old wife, and mother. The projectile (that we assume was a bullet) went into her chest, came out her back, and hit the shoulder of Joel Souza, the 48-year-old director. Souza thankfully recovered.

Since the shooting, there have been many reports of everything that went wrong on that set. Unfortunately, there has also been a concerted media and public relations effort to treat Baldwin not only as blameless but as a victim.

While I don’t disagree Baldwin is, in a tragic way, a victim, it is also true that he may be a victim of his own negligence and/or recklessness. Like a driver who takes his eyes off the road to text, Baldwin certainly did not mean to kill anyone, and we have to feel for a man who’s going to have to live with such a thing. Nevertheless, his behavior might have contributed to this avoidable tragedy.

Baldwin’s potential liability only begins with the fact that he was the one holding the gun. He was also a Rust producer. Being a producer comes with responsibilities that begins with hiring competent people and ends with controlling a production that was reportedly so unsafe, people walked off just a few hours prior to the deadly shooting.

What’s more, from what we know so far, Baldwin was also, by far, the most experienced person on that set. Of course, that comes with ethical responsibilities.

Now that we’re a week into the story, this seems like a good time to gather together what we know, what’s been reported, and what’s been said.

It’s important to point out that the American media is wholly unreliable, lies casually and deliberately, and should not be trusted. So everything is, at this point, speculative.

But there is no doubt, and I mean no doubt whatsoever, that this young woman died due to negligence. We know this for a fact because the rules and regulations involving the use of firearms on-set are foolproof.  But they are only foolproof if they are followed.

Here’s the alleged horror story that led to a very real death of a very real human being that did not have to happen…

  • To save money, the producers combined the armorer job with a prop job. These should’ve been separate jobs, especially in a Western where you will have a lot of guns. The armorer should be focused solely on gun safety.
  • Members of the crew used the guns for target practice. This means they were loaded with real bullets and fired. There are reports this happened the night prior to the fatal shooting and even the morning of. You never-ever-ever put real bullets in a prop gun.
  • Live ammo was mixed with blanks on the set. Live ammo should never-ever-ever be allowed anywhere on a set where functioning prop guns are being used.
  • There had already been two or three misfires on the Rust set, meaning guns had fired accidentally. If this is true, everyone involved should have been immediately fired.
  • Crew members resigned the morning of the shooting over, among other things, safety concerns. This should have been a red flag for the producers to pause and recalibrate and double down on safety procedures and training sessions.
  • The armorer, a 24-year-old woman, did not have the experience required for the responsibilities involved, most especially with her also being assigned double duty in the prop department.
  • The functioning prop firearms were not secured during the lunch break. Instead, they were left out on a cart.
  • After lunch, the first A.D. grabbed a functioning prop pistol off the unsecured cart, handed it to Baldwin, and shouted, “Cold gun!” which means that nothing will happen if you pull the trigger. No blanks, no nothing. And here is where everything apparently went horribly wrong…
  • The armorer obviously did not clear the gun. The most likely scenario is that a live bullet was still in the gun from that morning’s target practice. It’s also possible (but improbable) there was a blank and something jammed in the barrel — a pebble or something.
  • The first A.D. did not clear the gun. He is supposed to double-check the armorer, who might not have even been present when all this went down.
  • The first A.D. did not show the actor (as required) that the gun was empty, the cylinder was clear, and the barrel was clear. He (or the armorer) are then supposed to point the gun at the ground and pull the trigger six times.
  • Baldwin did not demand the first A.D. show him the gun was empty. With his 40 years of set experience, along with his role as star and producer, he should have gotten in the first A.D.’s ass over this.
  • Baldwin did not check the gun. This is especially egregious after the first A.D. failed to prove to him it was unloaded.
  • Baldwin was given a functioning gun during rehearsal. This should only happen when cameras roll. For rehearsals, you use a rubber gun or, if you have to, a stick.
  • Baldwin pointed a functioning gun at a human being. This is beyond irresponsible, beyond comprehension, especially after neither he nor the first A.D. checked the gun, especially after two previous misfires and the guns being used for recreational target practice.
  • People must be held responsible for this.

     

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    John Nolte