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Gun Safety: The Movies
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subego
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Oct 22, 2021, 08:45 AM
 
So, yeah, umm… Alec Baldwin shot and killed the Director of Photography of the movie he was working on.

Presumably, it was an accident, but one of his brothers made a tweet which implied he was fucking around.



Edit: I know an armorer here in Chicago. He didn’t work on The Crow, but the armorer community here is small, and they all know each other. According to him, they canned the Chicago armorer they had hired, brought on someone new, and right after that was when the mishap occurred. He considered it all very sketchy.

Also, it was hilarious to watch this guy scare the shit out of indie producers with stories of how he had no problems brandishing automatic weapons to insure he got paid.
( Last edited by subego; Oct 22, 2021 at 09:05 AM. )
     
BLAZE_MkIV
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Oct 22, 2021, 09:11 AM
 
Do X.
No.
Fine I'll get someone who will.
...
...
Oops
     
andi*pandi
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Oct 22, 2021, 11:50 AM
 
You would think after the crow and jon-erik huxum people would know not to fuck around with ^&*( guns even if they are blanks. Was Baldwin handed a gun with bad blanks, or real bullets? Was he screwing around or did someone else eff up?

https://nypost.com/2021/10/22/brando...-set-shooting/
     
subego  (op)
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Oct 22, 2021, 12:34 PM
 
Usually what happens when a blank goes “wrong” is something somehow gets stuck in the barrel, which the blank then propels out. That’s what happened with Lee.
     
BLAZE_MkIV
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Oct 22, 2021, 03:11 PM
 
There's a bit of packing in the blank itself too right?
     
ghporter
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Oct 22, 2021, 04:24 PM
 
Yes, many blanks have some sort of wadding, but it really doesn’t even take anything solid to cause a fatal wound if the gun is close enough, or the blank is powerful enough.

However, the whole point of having a professional armorer on set is that the armorer makes sure that NOTHING goes wrong. The armorer should verify the firearm is free of obstructions, is loaded ONLY with the appropriate number and kind of blanks, and put the weapon in the actor’s hand only when the shot is ready to roll.

Further, any actor who will be using a weapon on set should have also been trained - first in how to safely handle the weapon, second in how their character should use the weapon, and most importantly how to work with the armorer to be an extra set of eyes on weapon safety.

Plus, it is SOP to “cheat” shots, so that the barrel isn’t really pointing at an actor.

It looks like the shot they were working on had Baldwin facing the camera with the gun. It is also SOP to have some sort of shield, like an acrylic sheet, between the camera and the firearm. But if the director was worried about that sort of thing showing in the shot, he may have decided not to use it. Bad idea, and one a professional armorer should have objected to.

Here’s some info from the FAQ from Atlantic Wall Blanks, one of many suppliers of theatrical blanks:
How close can someone be in front of me when I shoot?
Never fire your weapon directly at someone.
In reenactments the minimum safety range is generally 15-20 yards. Even at that range people have been injured so always keep this in mind. The professionals get paid big money to do this on TV. Leave the short range stuff to them.

Do you use any wad or is there any projectile from your blanks?
Some of our blanks such as those made by Winchester do have wads. 99% of our rounds are crimped and only the concussive muzzle blast will exit the barrel. This does not mean it is safe to discharge the weapon at short range.
The “professionals” they mention are the professional theatrical armorers that work in movies. In the US these people are typically licensed, insured, bonded, and otherwise extremely tightly controlled.

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Waragainstsleep
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Oct 22, 2021, 05:48 PM
 
You could risk the camera being damaged by removing a shield but theres no way you'd do that for the people stood beside or behind it.
My question is, how many shots were fired? Hard to imagine there being multiple accidental obstructions but equally hard to imagine some tiny bit of accidental detritus injuring two people in one shot.
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subego  (op)
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Oct 22, 2021, 07:38 PM
 
No official word yet on how many shots were fired, but it’s being reported this production had already encountered what should be career-ending mistakes. Like guns that were supposed to be empty not being empty.

It’s also being reported the Director of Photography’s camera crew walked earlier that day, in part due to the production having a bad safety record.


Edit: ugh. This is dredging up memories of all my mistakes which could have been career-ending, but weren’t.
( Last edited by subego; Oct 22, 2021 at 07:58 PM. )
     
subego  (op)
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Oct 22, 2021, 10:33 PM
 
Turns out I misremembered the Brandon Lee deal.

No firings, but the chief armorer had left for the day. The assistant who remained was a new hire.

What was stuck in the barrel was a wooden bullet, which had broken off from an inert round used to make it look like the gun was loaded.
     
subego  (op)
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Oct 23, 2021, 07:28 AM
 
Hearing more and more reports this was real ammo with a real bullet. Which is insane.
     
BLAZE_MkIV
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Oct 23, 2021, 11:29 AM
 
I'm not a gun or stunt guy at all but I would think the only actual bullets you'd want around would be the hands of the security guards.
     
subego  (op)
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Oct 23, 2021, 03:51 PM
 
Hell… I had a shoot with some BB guns, and made sure there were no BBs whatsoever on set.
     
Waragainstsleep
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Oct 24, 2021, 10:56 PM
 
I've heard various details since, an AD gave Baldwin the gun and told him it was safe. Haven't heard an explanation why there was live rounds on set.
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subego  (op)
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Oct 25, 2021, 01:31 PM
 
The explanation I’m hearing for the real ammo is the gun temporarily left duty as a prop and got used for target practice. If this is true, we can infer the gun wasn’t properly checked-in when it returned.

I’ve read the AD story too. The AD took it off a cart, announced to the set it was “cold”, and handed it to Baldwin. Ideally, only an armorer does these sorts of things. Most of the reasons I can think of for the AD doing it instead are bad.
     
andi*pandi
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Oct 25, 2021, 02:35 PM
 
Also hearing that there were already lots of rumblings on the set about safety, and that the armorer had already been chastised for safety on a previous gig.

less hearsay more facts, allow ads for free access:

https://www.latimes.com/entertainmen...search-warrant
( Last edited by andi*pandi; Oct 25, 2021 at 03:18 PM. )
     
subego  (op)
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Oct 25, 2021, 04:10 PM
 
Article says minimizing the number of people on-set due to COVID is given as the reason there was no armorer there.
     
OreoCookie
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Oct 25, 2021, 07:25 PM
 
Last thing I heard was that he was rehearsing a shot where he was supposed to fire directly at the camera. Even if he was horsing around, in my (non-expert) understanding making sure there is no dangerous ammo in the gun shouldn’t be an actor’s responsibility.

I’m still a bit at a loss how this could have happened. I know that blanks are dangerous at close distance, but from what I have heard Baldwin was at a distance, so the only explanation was that there was real ammo in the gun. Which is insane. Again, I have no weapons training whatsoever, but it seems obvious that there shouldn’t have been real ammo on the set to begin with. The gun should have been checked by an expert.

I feel for Baldwin: can you imagine feeling responsible for someone else’s death? This is a nightmare.
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OreoCookie
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Oct 25, 2021, 07:28 PM
 
Originally Posted by subego View Post
The explanation I’m hearing for the real ammo is the gun temporarily left duty as a prop and got used for target practice. If this is true, we can infer the gun wasn’t properly checked-in when it returned.
Why would you feel the need to do target practice with a movie prop? Are there really so few guns around that a movie prop has to perform double duty?!?
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subego  (op)
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Oct 25, 2021, 08:52 PM
 
Originally Posted by OreoCookie View Post
Why would you feel the need to do target practice with a movie prop? Are there really so few guns around that a movie prop has to perform double duty?!?
It’s a period movie, so relatively speaking the gun is probably rare. Especially if it’s an real antique and not a replica.
     
subego  (op)
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Oct 25, 2021, 09:15 PM
 
Originally Posted by OreoCookie View Post
Again, I have no weapons training whatsoever, but it seems obvious that there shouldn’t have been real ammo on the set to begin with. The gun should have been checked by an expert.

I feel for Baldwin: can you imagine feeling responsible for someone else’s death? This is a nightmare.
There are situations where real ammo is required, but those are unusual, and this wasn’t one of those cases.

I feel bad for Baldwin, but like I mentioned earlier, it’s reported there had already been multiple, career-ending mistakes with guns on this production. IIUC, Baldwin bankrolled it, so he had the pull to get people fired. No one got fired.
     
OreoCookie
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Oct 25, 2021, 09:31 PM
 
Originally Posted by subego View Post
It’s a period movie, so relatively speaking the gun is probably rare. Especially if it’s an real antique and not a replica.
Just a stupid question: why would you give actors real antiques? Wouldn't replicas be the better alternative? They are cheaper and if some doofus drops or damages them, it is a lot cheaper. Or are gun nerds insulted if actors use replicas in a period movie?
Originally Posted by subego View Post
There are situations where real ammo is required, but those are unusual, and this wasn’t one of those cases.
Really? Seems kinda dangerous. I reckon there are very, very few actors who could handle live ammo. Keanu Reaves comes to mind.

But still, I don't think this was one of those times … 
Originally Posted by subego View Post
I feel bad for Baldwin, but like I mentioned earlier, it’s reported there had already been multiple, career-ending mistakes with guns on this production. IIUC, Baldwin bankrolled it, so he had the pull to get people fired. No one got fired.
I am not sure I'd place as much blame on Baldwin as you do. With a lot of hidden things companies/bosses usually squeeze because they are ignorant. (In-house IT comes to mind.)

If the production company did not stick to regulations, they should be nailed for that, including Baldwin if he bankrolls the production. But still, I think this will be a shock he will likely never recover from, so I feel for him.
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subego  (op)
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Oct 26, 2021, 02:49 AM
 
I can’t think of a good reason to use an antique over a replica other than the antique is “cooler”.

If real bullets are being fired, the shooter needs training, but a competent armorer will design a protocol with such a huge margin for error the shooter doesn’t need to be trained to Keanu levels.

I fully admit what Baldwin knew is conjecture, but critical personnel walked and shut the production down. That can’t be hidden, and professionals won’t do it unless things have really flown off the rails.
     
ghporter
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Oct 26, 2021, 10:20 AM
 
Kurt Russel destroyed an antique guitar on the set of The Hateful Eight because he was apparently too “into” the scene. And antique firearms can be just as priceless as musical instruments. Antiques of any kind on set are a problem; antique firearms are more so because they may look fine but not be able to be handled “authentically”, and they may not be safe to use blanks in.

There are also a relatively small numbers of antique firearms that have appropriate-looking reproductions. Movie viewers are notorious for picking the crap out of films because of details, like “that revolver wasn’t invented until ten years after this story is set.” In Raiders of the Lost Ark, Spielberg used iconic Nazi weapons, which weren’t introduced until two years after the story. He also had the Pacific-bound airplane fly over a completed Golden Gate Bridge, which wasn’t really complete until the next year; only history nerds griped about that.

On the other hand, there is an “authenticness” in having an actor hold an actual weapon. Fake guns always look fake close up, but even good fakes look bad if the actor doesn’t act like it’s a real gun. For this reason I don’t believe “banning real guns from the set” is the best way to go.

Having far more oversight and direct control over real guns on the set, and requiring an effective protocol for actually verifying a firearm is or is not loaded - along with ensuring NO live ammunition is anywhere near the set - would be better. Like fixing the problem we see the results of now, instead of patching it with “feel good” stuff. STOP EVERYTHING unless everything IS safe and everyone concurs that it is safe. NEVER believe someone else’s statement that a gun is empty (or “cold”).

To me, making sure the actor can check and verify that the weapon is either not loaded, or loaded with actual blanks, would be simpler and more effective than acquiring a boatload of Airsoft guns and letting actors act like they’re fake. This is essentially “Gun Safety 101”. “Treat any weapon as if it is loaded (with live ammunition) unless you just checked it” is a proven rule. Just follow the darn rule!

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subego  (op)
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Oct 26, 2021, 12:37 PM
 
It doesn’t seem practical to me to have an actor remove every single bullet and inspect it each time they’re handed a gun.

Also, don’t many single-action revolvers require cocking the hammer and dropping it 6 times to load or unload?

Never mind that last part.
( Last edited by subego; Oct 26, 2021 at 01:02 PM. )
     
andi*pandi
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Oct 26, 2021, 01:05 PM
 
At the risk of pushing this to pol/war territory, predictably Don Jr is selling "GUNS DON'T KILL PEOPLE, ALEC BALDWIN DOES" tshirts.
     
ghporter
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Oct 26, 2021, 01:18 PM
 
A single action “old west” style revolver requires pulling the hammer back to the “half cock” position, then opening the loading gate (a part that swings open to reveal part of the cylinder). At that point you can freely rotate the cylinder and inspect each of the six chambers. Watch this video, starting at about 0:35…


Further, SOP is supposed to be that if the script calls for one shot to be fired, there should only be one blank on hand. If it’s supposed to be three shots, there blanks…. Showing Joe Performer that the revolver you’re handing him has only one blank in it (preferably by taking it out and showing that it IS a blank) isn’t a big deal.

A shot where the character is firing a machine gun should take a fairly long time to set up, because you want to have the weapon properly loaded, the camera ready to roll, and the actor ready to go. But it should also be a take that starts as the armorer lets go of the weapon and ends when the character stops shooting. The brief should be “keep it pointed at the red mark over there, and just hold the trigger back until the gun stops”.

If the character is supposed to be comfortable around guns, the actor should be taught at least the basics of safe gun handling. That “cool” thing you see people do where their trigger finger is along side the gun most of the time? That is basic safe handling: “don’t touch the trigger until you’re ready to fire”. Which comes after “be sure of your target AND what’s behind it.”

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subego  (op)
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Oct 26, 2021, 01:27 PM
 
Even if there’s only one blank, with a revolver they’d still need to do 5 or 6 because the front of the cylinder is visible, thus necessitating loading the other chambers with dummy rounds.
     
subego  (op)
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Oct 26, 2021, 01:32 PM
 
Originally Posted by ghporter View Post
“don’t touch the trigger until you’re ready to fire”
Often phrased as “keep your booger hook off the bang switch”.
     
subego  (op)
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Oct 26, 2021, 01:32 PM
 
Originally Posted by andi*pandi View Post
At the risk of pushing this to pol/war territory, predictably Don Jr is selling "GUNS DON'T KILL PEOPLE, ALEC BALDWIN DOES" tshirts.
Low class. Sad.
     
ghporter
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Oct 26, 2021, 09:34 PM
 
Originally Posted by subego View Post
Even if there’s only one blank, with a revolver they’d still need to do 5 or 6 because the front of the cylinder is visible, thus necessitating loading the other chambers with dummy rounds.
Yep. But there are some dodges for that. Dummies that look right from the front, but are CLEARLY not ammunition. No picture at the moment, but this is one of those thing you could get away with a 3D printed gizmo.

And yes, booger hookers are to stay off of triggers.

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Oct 26, 2021, 10:12 PM
 
Originally Posted by ghporter View Post
Kurt Russel destroyed an antique guitar on the set of The Hateful Eight because he was apparently too “into” the scene.
I remember Olmos, the actor who played Commander Adama on the BSG reboot, destroyed a model ship worth $100k (!) in a scene, because he felt that this is what the character would have done. The scene was a tad more expensive than anticipated.
Originally Posted by ghporter View Post
Movie viewers are notorious for picking the crap out of films because of details, like “that revolver wasn’t invented until ten years after this story is set.” In Raiders of the Lost Ark, Spielberg used iconic Nazi weapons, which weren’t introduced until two years after the story. He also had the Pacific-bound airplane fly over a completed Golden Gate Bridge, which wasn’t really complete until the next year; only history nerds griped about that.
Personally, I think it makes sense in movies like Das Boot which are meant to be authentic. But in a movie where the Ark melts faces off of Nazis, I'm much more forgiving.
Originally Posted by ghporter View Post
Having far more oversight and direct control over real guns on the set, and requiring an effective protocol for actually verifying a firearm is or is not loaded - along with ensuring NO live ammunition is anywhere near the set - would be better.
Just an additional thought: as far as I understand (as a complete layperson who hasn't handled a real gun once), clearing a gun means you check that there is no gun in the cylinder (as this is a revolver). But for the scene you probably want to have the appearance that the cylinder is loaded, i. e. not clear.

Movies constantly break basic rules of firearm safety: guns get pointed at other people. Actors simulate a suicide. Guns get waved around. Fingers are on triggers. Etc. I reckon most movie gun fights are impossible if actors wouldn't break these rules.
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Oct 26, 2021, 10:21 PM
 
If a black plastic water gun can fool cops into thinking a kid is about to shoot them, then surely movie magicians have the ability to make props that would look right and be harmless?

</polwarlounge>
     
subego  (op)
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Oct 26, 2021, 11:41 PM
 
Originally Posted by andi*pandi View Post
If a black plastic water gun can fool cops into thinking a kid is about to shoot them, then surely movie magicians have the ability to make props that would look right and be harmless?
This is heresy for me to say when it comes to gun safety, but the truth is an empty gun is harmless.
     
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Oct 27, 2021, 02:49 AM
 
Originally Posted by subego View Post
This is heresy for me to say when it comes to gun safety, but the truth is an empty gun is harmless.
Obligatory retort: the chance that it may not actually be empty results in inherent risk.

QED.
     
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Oct 27, 2021, 05:21 AM
 
Originally Posted by OreoCookie View Post
I feel for Baldwin: can you imagine feeling responsible for someone else’s death? This is a nightmare.
Me too. And the media is all "Alec Baldwin shoots woman dead." Its deeply unfair and must be doing an absolute number on him.
I have plenty of more important things to do, if only I could bring myself to do them....
     
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Oct 27, 2021, 05:24 AM
 
Originally Posted by andi*pandi View Post
At the risk of pushing this to pol/war territory, predictably Don Jr is selling "GUNS DON'T KILL PEOPLE, ALEC BALDWIN DOES" tshirts.
I hope Baldwin sues that piece of shit for millions.
I have plenty of more important things to do, if only I could bring myself to do them....
     
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Oct 27, 2021, 05:56 AM
 
Originally Posted by Waragainstsleep View Post
Me too. And the media is all "Alec Baldwin shoots woman dead." Its deeply unfair and must be doing an absolute number on him.
The stories write themselves. The memes by people who don’t like Baldwin. The know-it-alls who write that “You shouldn’t point guns at people.” (And yes, you also shouldn’t do what stunt doubles do every day.)
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subego  (op)
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Oct 27, 2021, 09:51 AM
 
Originally Posted by Spheric Harlot View Post
Obligatory retort: the chance that it may not actually be empty results in inherent risk.

QED.
With a modern gun, if it’s supposed to be empty, it gets handed over in a way which proves it’s empty beyond a shadow of doubt.

That can’t be done with old designs. There’s an argument protocol should be revised for period films.
     
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Oct 27, 2021, 12:59 PM
 
You’re right. As in the video I posted, with a “cowboy revolver” you have to do a bit more. But this whole thing about having people who are completely ignorant about guns “acting like” they handle them all the time requires that the actors be trained in the basics. And I think the actor who will be handling any firearm must also be an integral part of the protocol in checking the safety of a firearm that’s being handed to them.

I also think the culture of “guns are horrible and we all hate them”, but “we’re going to cash in on the public loving movies with guns in them” is disingenuous at best. If you act with a car, how can you “hate” cars? Or shovels, or snow blowers, or….

To me, the best way to reduce misuse of anything is to “demystify” it. Get rid of the fear, misinformation and ignorance, and “the thing” becomes just a thing. Our whole society needs to be able to see a firearm and not wee themselves. From there, we can all stop going crazy about toy guns, valid sports, and even hunting if someone is into that - I’m not.

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Oct 28, 2021, 11:33 AM
 
Originally Posted by Waragainstsleep View Post
Me too. And the media is all "Alec Baldwin shoots woman dead." Its deeply unfair and must be doing an absolute number on him.
I don't think that even begins to compare to what the fact that he accidentally killed a person is doing to him.
     
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Oct 28, 2021, 11:36 AM
 
Originally Posted by ghporter View Post
You’re right. As in the video I posted, with a “cowboy revolver” you have to do a bit more. But this whole thing about having people who are completely ignorant about guns “acting like” they handle them all the time requires that the actors be trained in the basics. And I think the actor who will be handling any firearm must also be an integral part of the protocol in checking the safety of a firearm that’s being handed to them.

I also think the culture of “guns are horrible and we all hate them”, but “we’re going to cash in on the public loving movies with guns in them” is disingenuous at best. If you act with a car, how can you “hate” cars? Or shovels, or snow blowers, or….
The odds of a gun being loaded are orders of magnitude lower when virtually nobody involved with the set is ever going to be walking around with live ammo on them at any point in their lives.
     
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Oct 28, 2021, 11:38 AM
 
Originally Posted by Waragainstsleep View Post
I hope Baldwin sues that piece of shit for millions.
I hope he regains the clarity of mind to do so, and set up a fund for Hutchins' family.
     
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Oct 28, 2021, 01:21 PM
 
To everyone saying Baldwin should have known if the gun was loaded; I was reminded of nascar. The driver gets in the car that others have prepped and just drives. If the wheels fall off and he plows into the crowd, is it his fault or someone on the crew?
     
subego  (op)
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Oct 28, 2021, 02:56 PM
 
Originally Posted by ghporter View Post
And I think the actor who will be handling any firearm must also be an integral part of the protocol in checking the safety of a firearm that’s being handed to them.
I kinda feel the opposite. An actor should have zero burden insuring the safety of a firearm they’ve been handed. It’s not their job. That responsibility has been delegated.
     
subego  (op)
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Oct 28, 2021, 02:58 PM
 
Originally Posted by andi*pandi View Post
To everyone saying Baldwin should have known if the gun was loaded; I was reminded of nascar. The driver gets in the car that others have prepped and just drives. If the wheels fall off and he plows into the crowd, is it his fault or someone on the crew?
I was toying around with using a similar analogy in the post I just made.

Am I responsible for making sure my mechanic hands me a safe car?
     
MacNNFamous
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Oct 28, 2021, 03:27 PM
 
Crazy to me that guns used for movie production are not stored in locked boxes and people are allowed to put real ammunition in them to plink cans earlier in the day before actually shooting a movie. WTF. Bring your own firearms for that. Wild.
     
Waragainstsleep
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Oct 28, 2021, 04:33 PM
 
Originally Posted by Spheric Harlot View Post
I don't think that even begins to compare to what the fact that he accidentally killed a person is doing to him.
Of course, but blaming yourself is only going to be made worse if you keep hearing that everyone else is blaming you too It clearly wasn't his fault.
I have plenty of more important things to do, if only I could bring myself to do them....
     
Waragainstsleep
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Oct 28, 2021, 04:34 PM
 
Theres a story going around about the armourer having an incident with Nicholas Cage on a previous flick. The story is also being denied by others who were present though.
I have plenty of more important things to do, if only I could bring myself to do them....
     
BLAZE_MkIV
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Oct 28, 2021, 04:52 PM
 
Im in the there should be no live ammo on set category. Have a specific day for any shots needing actual bullets.
     
ghporter
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Oct 28, 2021, 07:17 PM
 
Originally Posted by subego View Post
I kinda feel the opposite. An actor should have zero burden insuring the safety of a firearm they’ve been handed. It’s not their job. That responsibility has been delegated.
I’m sorry to say that this incident is all about delegation of responsibility, without ensuring the people who handled guns on the set actually knew their donkey from an excavation.

If anyone is going to have the guilt and nightmares over a “mistake” with a gun on the set, it’s going to be the performer. Let's at least let the performer have an opportunity to avoid being party to such accidents.

Glenn -----OTR/L, MOT, Tx
     
 
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