A Deeper Dive Into the Alec Baldwin “Rust” Killing & Charges

Tombstone, Arizona – As expected, my opinion on the Alec Baldwin manslaughter charges didn’t go over well with many of AmmoLand News’ regular readers, so let’s dig a little deeper and explore how I came to the opinions I hold.

Let’s start with what we actually know and what people think they know about the case.

The undisputed fact is that Alec Baldwin was rehearsing a scene in which he was to draw a single-action pistol from a shoulder holster and cock it as he pointed it in the direction of the camera. The director and the cinematographer were working with him to get him to do it exactly the way they wanted the camera to see it when the gun fired, and a bullet struck the cinematographer in the chest, passing through and striking the director in the shoulder. The cinematographer, Halyna Hutchins, died from her injuries. The director recovered.

Baldwin subsequently claimed that he did not pull the trigger, stating that he allowed his thumb to slip off of the cocked or partially cocked hammer, at which point the gun “went off.” He also talked about his extensive experience with firearms on movie sets, declaring that he would never intentionally point a gun at a person and pull the trigger… (As Bugs Bunny would say; “What a maroon.”)

Despite Baldwin’s claims to the contrary, we know that single-action pistols of the Colt SAA style do not “just go off” without the trigger being pressed unless the gun is either seriously broken or modified. The FBI subsequently confirmed that the gun Baldwin was holding was not modified or broken and could not have fired without him activating the trigger. We also know that Baldwin was knowingly pointing the gun in the direction of Hutchins and the Director – at their instruction.

We know that along with “starring” in the production, Baldwin also held a title as an “executive producer.”

Now let’s look at what we don’t know or only think we know.

In the movie industry, the title “executive producer” can mean anything from an honorary title given to major investors whose only contribution to the project is financial to the actual head honcho in charge of every aspect of the production. As is common among low-budget movies, the “Rust” production had several people listed as Executive Producers and also had several different production companies involved.

As a “big star” in some circle and apparently a driving force behind the production, Baldwin probably had a lot of sway within the production. Still, it has not been made clear exactly what his legal authority and liabilities might be regarding staffing and operation of the production. He has said that he had no role in hiring staff or dealing with day-to-day operations or logistics, and I’ve seen no clear evidence to the contrary.

In my original piece, I mentioned rumors of unsafe working conditions, after-hours live fire on the set, and negligent discharges of live ammunition during filming.

It is possible that prosecutors have substantiated some of those rumors, but I’ve seen no strong evidence that any of the more egregious claims are true. Most of it seems like the typical grousing of employees working in a relatively remote and uncomfortable situation. The fact that there were conflicts between the production company and film crew unions, with the production hiring non-union crew for some jobs, increases the likelihood of exaggerated complaints – and even possible sabotage. Baldwin’s personal reputation as an elitist anti-gun jerk who didn’t treat crew and fellow cast members with much respect could also play into the rumors. Once people are testifying under oath and we see more of the verifiable evidence, we’ll have a better idea of what was really going on during the filming and how much weight to give to the rumors.

Until then, I’m basing my analysis and opinion on the actual facts that I’ve been able to find, not rumors and unproven accusations.

A number of people took exception to my assertion that there are exceptions to “the Rules.”

I suggest those of you who claim to be absolutists on these matters must not have ever properly cleaned your firearms, never inspected a bore for fouling, or installed or removed a muzzle device or suppressor. You might want to avoid coming to Tombstone, where the Earps and Clantons shoot it out in the streets several times a day, 7 days a week.

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