SAG-AFRTRA has come to Alec Baldwin’s defense following the actor’s indictment last week for involuntary manslaughter, issuing a statement that actors are not responsible for firearm safety.
The charge stems from the shooting death of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins on the set of the independent Western “Rust” in 2021.
“To the extent that the charges filed on January 19 are based on an accusation of negligent use of a firearm predicated on this or any actor having a duty to inspect a firearm as part of its use, that is an incorrect assessment of the actual duties of an actor on set,” the statement read.
The statement continued: “An actor’s job is not to be a firearms or weapons expert. Firearms are provided for use on set under the guidance of multiple expert professionals directly responsible for the safe and accurate operation of that firearm.”
The Industry Standards for safety with firearms and use of blank ammunition are clearly laid out in Safety Bulletin 1, provided by the Joint Industry-Wide Labor Management Safety Commission. The guidelines require an experienced, qualified armorer to be put in charge of all handling, use, and safekeeping of firearms on set. These duties include “inspecting the firearm and barrel before and after every firing sequence,” and “checking all firearms before each use.”
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.”
The SAG-AFTRA statement suggests that if the prosecution trying Baldwin is suggesting that he was meant to make sure that the gun was safe, that is outside the lines of what an actor is responsible for.
Baldwin was holding a gun in preparation for a scene; when the gun was discharged it killed Hutchins and wounded the “Rust” director Joel Souza. Hannah Gutierrez Reed, the film’s armorer who mistakenly loaded the gun with a live round, is set to go on trial next month. She faces charges of involuntary manslaughter and evidence tampering.
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