By now everyone is aware of the tragic death of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins, who was killed last week when a firearm actor Alec Baldwin was handling discharged, striking her in the chest.
Reports say that the round then exited her body, striking and wounding director Joel Souza, who was standing directly behind Hutchins.
The tragedy happened Thursday near Santa Fe, New Mexico, on the set of “Rust,” a Western feature film on which Baldwin served both as principal actor and executive producer.
Media have attempted to deflect blame away from Baldwin for the incident.
For example, local CBS affiliate KCTV5 News reported that “Alec Baldwin was handed a loaded weapon by an assistant director who indicated it was safe to use in the moments before the actor fatally shot a cinematographer.”
Even Hutchins’ father, Anatoly Androsovych, blames the prop personnel for the tragedy.
“I don't hold Alec Baldwin responsible — it is the responsibility of the props people who handle the guns," he told The Sun.
However, Androsovych is ex-Ukraine military. As such, he should know that primary and ultimate responsibility always falls on the person handling the weapon.
Hutchins’ father also described his daughter’s death as an “accident” — a term picked up by media and the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, the union that represents the crew on the set.
“A live single round was accidentally fired on set by the principal actor, hitting both the Director of Photography, Local 600 member Halyna Hutchins, and Director Joel Souza,” the union told its members.
But accidents don’t occur in a vacuum — they happen for a reason. Motor vehicle accidents, for example, are generally the result of the driver’s inattention or because he’s driving erratically or too fast for the conditions.
Firearm accidents happen for the same reason — operator error.
There are four universal rules of firearm safety. They are:
- Treat all guns as if they’re always loaded.
- Never let the muzzle point at anything that you don’t intend to hit.
- Keep your finger off the trigger until your sights are on target and you’re ready to fire.
- Be sure of your target and what is behind it.
If everything stated so far about the incident is true, then Baldwin broke all four rules.
Although the assistant director allegedly told him that it was a “cold gun,” he should have never taken someone else’s word for it.
Baldwin should have treated it as a weapon that was loaded and ready to fire. Better yet, he should have checked the weapon himself — but he didn’t.
As actor Adam Baldwin (no relation) asked, “Why did he aim, cock and pull the trigger — of his unchecked weapon — in the direction of crewmembers during a rehearsal?”
He concluded, “Ans: Negligence.”
After fatally shooting Hutchins, he reportedly asked why he was given a “hot gun.” A better question would have been, why didn’t he treat it as if it were a “hot gun.”
He also apparently pointed the muzzle directly at Hutchins — either on purpose or inadvertently.
Guns don’t fire on their own volition — it takes someone to pull the trigger.
Again, it may have been inadvertent, which is why you’re always instructed to place your finger along the frame of the weapon until your target is sighted and you’re ready to fire.
Finally, there was another victim standing directly behind Hutchins, and Baldwin managed to hit them both.
Now, consider that New Mexico Statutes 30-2-3 defines involuntary manslaughter as “manslaughter committed … in the commission of a lawful act which might produce death in an unlawful manner or without due caution and circumspection.”
Will this charge be brought against Baldwin? That remains unclear.
What is obvious is that this tragedy could have been avoided.
Baldwin has always been publicly anti-gun. So much so that he joined a coalition of celebrities in 2018 called the No Rifle Association (NoRA), whose purpose was to ultimately destroy the National Rifle Association (NRA).
"We’re going to make sure the whole world sees your bloody hands,” the group wrote in a 2018 letter addressed to NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre. “We’re coming for your money. We’re coming for your puppets. And we’re going to win.”
During that same period Baldwin also personally went after then-NRA spokeswoman Dana Loesch.
“I see that @DLoesch wants to ‘take back the truth,’” he tweeted. “And she doesn’t care how many dead bodies she has to step over in that pursuit. The Second Amendment is not a moral credit card that buys you all the guns you want. That law needs to be rethought.”
However, the NRA isn’t just America's oldest civil rights organization due to its crusade to protect Second Amendment freedoms. It also has more than 125,000 instructors, 8,000 coaches, and 2,200 training counselors who teach more than 1 million people each year how to safely and properly handle firearms.
Ironically, had Baldwin, as the film’s executive producer, put his prejudices aside and brought the NRA on board instead of hiring some Hollywood flunkies, Hutchins would still be alive and working as the film’s cinematographer.
And Baldwin would have no potential criminal liability hanging over his head.
Michael Dorstewitz is a retired lawyer and has been a frequent contributor to BizPac Review and Liberty Unyielding. He is also a former U.S. Merchant Marine officer and an enthusiastic Second Amendment supporter, who can often be found honing his skills at the range. Read Dorstewitz's Reports — More Here.
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