A tragedy happened on October 1st at the Set of RustThe film was a Western in New Mexico production. Alec Baldwin fired a gun from which he had no idea that it contained live ammunition. Halyna Hutchins the cinematographer was shot to death and Joel Souza, the director was injured by this projectile.
Baldwin is also the producer of the film and has since cooperated with the police in the investigation. Production has been stopped. Baldwin, however, is not being truthful in his public statements about the incident or what he thinks could have been done better in the future.
Baldwin posted on Monday that he believed every film/TV production should employ a policeman to monitor the safety of weapons. While some actors have committed to certain changes—Dwayne Johnson, for example, said he will only use rubber guns on film sets from now on—Baldwin’s suggestion is different: It is both unlikely to make a difference, and it could also set a poor precedent.
The task seems daunting from a logistical standpoint. In 2019, the last year before the pandemic, there were more than 220 movies released by major studios in America. There was also over 500 scripted original TV series. In order to ensure that weapons are not used in more films or television series than half, it is reasonable to assume that at least 350 police officers would be required to go on set each year. Baldwin didn’t specify that studios would pay for the officers. However, this process will require the police department to hire additional staff to cover the loss of on-set monitors or to make due with the existing officers.
Additionally, the scope of what an on-set officer police officer can do beyond current system is unclear. All weapons must remain under the control of an armorer or weapons master. Only the armorer can load and handle weapons. He is also expected to fire every weapon off-set, but with full visibility of any actor using them, prior to filming the specific scene.
With these parameters in mind, it is possible that the addition of uniformed officers to set locations might not be a significant change. All indications are that the Rust Set was chaotic already: On the day of the accident, several crew members protested poor safety control and walked out on set. The fatal mistake occurred when an assistant director—not the armorer, as required—handed Baldwin a gun that he said was safe to use, but was instead inexplicably loaded with live ammunition. While it’s possible an officer could have avoided this disaster, due to the lack of safety control on the set, there are other possibilities. For example, if the producer was on break or running late, the gun could easily have been loaded with live ammunition.
Baldwin wants school resource officers, which are officers that have been specifically assigned to public schools. This is the closest parallel. Baldwin may be able to use their track record as a guide for his on-set police presence. Reduce general safety. Although they are supposed to reduce violence in schools and prevent school shootings from happening, the reality is that SROs can criminalize every day activity and turn general misbehavior among children into issues for police intervention. A resource officer may not be able to help in the rare case of a school shooter, but it’s unlikely.
Baldwin’s history of pugnacious liberalism makes it unlikely that he would be held personally responsible for the accident. But, Baldwin almost certainly is dealing with an inexplicable amount of grief. But, at the same time the facts do not support Baldwin’s claim. Baldwin called the episode “one in a billion” This shooting is not justified, considering that existing safety protocols could have prevented the accident.