Why use a real gun for a pretend story? Hollywood controversy continues after actor accidentally kills cinematographer

Alec Baldwin

Alec Baldwin speaks on the phone in the parking lot outside the Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Office in Santa Fe, N.M., after he was questioned about a shooting on the set of the film “Rust” on the outskirts of Santa Fe, Thursday, Oct. 21, 2021. Baldwin fired a prop gun on the set, killing cinematographer Halyna Hutchins and wounding director Joel Souza, officials said. (Jim Weber/Santa Fe New Mexican via AP)

SANTA FE, N.M. — The Associated Press on Tuesday reported actor Alec Baldwin will not likely face criminal charges for a deadly shooting incident on the set of the move “Rust” in New Mexico. However, he might face liability from lawsuits, the AP reported.

On October 21, cinematographer Halyna Hutchins was fatally shot, and director Joel Souza was wounded.

NEW YORK, NEW YORK – MAY 20: Trevor Noah speaks on stage during The Wall Street Journal’s Future Of Everything Festival at Spring Studios on May 20, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Nicholas Hunt/Getty Images)

Hollywood as an institution was under scrutiny from popular comedian Trevor Noah. One of the top items Tuesday on Facebook was a question he posed the day before in a video.

“Why do they need to use real guns to make a fake thing?”

Noah said, “… Hollywood movies love using the fake version of real things for everything except guns.”

“They’ve got fake everything. They got fake tigers. They’ve got fake tigers. They got fake diversity and inclusion initiatives,” Noah said. “But then when it comes to deadly weapons, suddenly they’re like let’s get a real gun and see what happens.”

“There was clearly negligence on the set,” said Adam Winkler, a professor at the UCLA School of Law and a gun policy expert. “The producers had a duty to preserve the safety of the crew. There were obvious hazards on the set.”

Baldwin is known for his roles in 30 Rock, The Hunt for Red October and his impression of former President Donald Trump on Saturday Night Live. He described the killing as a “tragic accident.”

On-set fatalities have led to safety reforms in the past.

Jeff Harris, founding partner at Harris Lowry Manton LLP and the lead attorney in two high-profile trials involving accidental deaths on television and film sets, said incidents like these are rare if the cast and crew follow regulations.

“They’re not complicated,” Harris said. “They’ve been around for years.”

“Though we were not made aware of any official complaints concerning weapon or prop safety on set, we will be conducting an internal review of our procedures while production is shut down,” Rust Movie Productions said in a statement to The Los Angeles Times.

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