Alec Baldwin Shooting: Negligent Homicide and Caused By Improper Gun Safety Checks and Protocols?

Alec Baldwin Shooting: Negligent Homicide and Caused By Improper Gun Safety Checks and Protocols?

When I first started learning and teaching gun safety over 55 years ago, I remember first learning the many cardinal rules of gun safety. I remember them being emphasized and required by the NRA, the National Shooting Sports Foundation, the Second Amendment Foundation, Gun Owners of America, the U.S. Air Force, the National Police Association, and several other law enforcement, military, and gun safety organizations. Below are just a few of the gun safety rules.

Selected Gun Safety Rules

  • When picking up a gun, make sure it is unloaded and do a proper safety check
  • Visually & physically inspect the chamber to know its operational status for yourself
  • Treat every gun as if it is loaded with ammunition and can fire at any time
  • Be absolutely certain you have identified your target and what is beyond it
  • Never point a gun at anything you do not intend to destroy

Mandatory Gun Rules and Safety Protocols Are For Everyone

Most gun aficionados and professionals thoroughly know the gun rules and protocols, can quote them verbatim, and practice them often. But, of course, some do not and need proper training and education about them. I have found first-hand that many gun-control advocates and criminals involved in deadly-force crimes using a gun do not know (and some do not care about knowing) the proper gun safety rules and protocols and how they affect the safety of others. Of course, those of us with the necessary gun-safety training and who have experienced the deadly results of unsafe gun handling and use know that before handling and using any gun, everyone should perform a proper Safety Check for themselves (no matter who just checked the gun a minute ago or told us it is safe.) There are really no gun accidents, but only NEGLIGENCE in gun handling and operation. Unintentional injuries and deaths are often called “accidents,” implying that nothing could be done to stop them from happening. However, gun deaths and injuries are absolutely preventable.

My MultiBriefs.com article “Ten Inspections and Actions for Your New Handgun” on January 30, 2017, emphasizes first performing a safety check and knowing your gun by taking a handgun safety and fundamentals training course. We know the absolutely critical, life-and-death necessity of ensuring the real-time, immediate safety status of any gun that we are planning to use… and that we have verified for ourselves the gun’s operational status and if it is loaded or not and ready to safely use for our purpose.

POINT:

Gun deaths and injuries have identified risks, protective factors, definite safety rules, and guidelines apply, and deaths and injuries are preventable. We must reduce unintentional gun deaths and injuries by educating people about the proper gun safety rules, protocols, and guidelines for handling and using any gun. Guns do not fire themselves but are tools that individuals use. And they can be used properly or improperly. Proper firearm operational-use training, adequate safe storage knowledge and types of precautions, avoiding alcohol and drug use while using a gun, and other gun negligence prevention steps must be known, frequently practiced, and implemented if guns are a part of the environment and desired use.

Anti-Gun Zealot Kills One and Injures Another

Sadly, four days ago, on October 21, 2021, an anti-gun zealot, Alec Baldwin, who appears to have been not properly trained in gun safety rules and protocols, or perhaps did not practice them, shot and killed an individual and injured another on the Santa Fe, New Mexico set of the upcoming western movie “Rust.” Updated facts and details are forthcoming, and a full investigation is now underway.

Baldwin Very Vocal Against Gun Rights

For many years, Alec Baldwin has been outspoken against gun rights activists and been a supporter of gun control, according to Fox News. In 2018, Baldwin joined a celebrity coalition called “No Rifle Association” (NoRA), whose goal was “to shine a light on the National Rifle Association’s alleged hold on the United States government.” He has also been involved in a heated war of words about gun control with NRA spokesperson Dana Loesch, according to an October 22, 2021 article by Newsweek author Emma Nolan.

Some of us remember Baldwin’s impersonation of President Trump in 2018 on the “Saturday Night Live” television show episode about gun control. He cynically jabbed at Trump’s strong gun rights beliefs and his meeting with lawmakers.

Brief Summary of Baldwin’s Shooting Incident on Movie Set

According to the Santa Fe, NM Sheriff’s Office spokesman Juan Rios, the movie director Joel Souza was injured, and the movie’s Cinematographer Halyna Hutchins was killed by Alec Baldwin, one of the movie’s producers and a star, who shot the gun used as a “prop” which contained live ammo. Rios said the incident is “still under investigation, and much remains unclear.” He said that no charges had been filed against anyone. This shooting incident is being investigated now by law enforcement authorities and other movie-related organizations, so there are facts and details not known at the time of this writing, and some are even disputed now. Several media have reported unverified information, so confirmed facts from reliable sources are forthcoming and very necessary. Video camera recordings, statements and interviews from witnesses, cell phone recordings, and examination of the gun are still ongoing. Also, for example, the projectile fired has not been fully confirmed, and it may have been a blank or dummy round, with or without powder but with a primer. However, recognize that a blank cartridge without a bullet can be dangerous and lethal and that a “prop” gun can be fired like a real gun.

“Blank” versus “Dummy” Rounds

A “dummy” round is a round that is completely inert with no primer, no propellant, or explosive charge. It does not produce an explosive sound. While a “blank” round contains propellant and a primer but no bullet or projectile, it makes a loud explosive sound. A “blank” has real gunpowder and can kill or injure, so guns with blanks must be treated with proper caution and safe handling.

POINT:

With our advanced video and audio technologies now, when gun effects can be inexpensively added using computers, why are “blanks” still being used in guns that will fire them? This author and ballistics, video, and audio technologies layman know of no justifiable reason today for having guns loaded with blanks on any movie or television set.

Other Notable Gun Incidents on Movie and Television Sets

  • Actor Brandon Lee died in the movie “The Crow” in 1993 from a prop gun
  • Actor Jon-Erik Hexum died when he shot himself in the head with a “blank” round while playing Russian Roulette on the set of “Cover Up” in 1984
  • Audio Technician Bryce Dion was killed by Omaha Police Department officers gunfire in the filming of the movie “Cops” in 2014
  • Actress Linda Hamilton in the 1991 movie “Terminator 2: Judgment Day” suffered permanent hearing damage in an ear when she fired a gun with blanks inside an elevator onset, without using earplugs

Information and Facts at this Time About Baldwin Incident

  • The shooting incident occurred on Bonanza Creek Ranch movie set in Santa Fe, New Mexico, on October 21, 2021
  • Alec Baldwin was unwittingly handed a loaded gun on the movie set by an assistant director and told that the gun was safe to use, per Reuters, on October 22, 2021
  • According to a Santa Fe Sheriff’s Office Affidavit, the assistant did not know that the gun was loaded with live rounds
  • Baldwin fired the gun loaded with live rounds, killing Hutchins and injuring Souza, who was standing behind Hutchins on the set, per Detective Joel Cano, as reported in the New York Times
  • The Santa Fe Sheriff’s Office has obtained a warrant to search the building where the incident happened, examine the gun for biological evidence, and review video footage from set cameras, cell phones, other recordings, and witness information
  • A few days earlier, some of the crew members walked off the work site over general working conditions, including safety concerns, as reported by USA Today, the L.A. Times, and Deadline Hollywood
  • NBC News reports that the prop gun in the incident had misfired before on the set
  • One camera crew member wrote on his Facebook page that there was “poor gun safety and poor onset safety period,” per Deadline Hollywood on October 22, 2021
  • The N.Y. Times reports that at least 194 serious film and television set accidents and at least 43 deaths in the U.S. were reported by the Associated Press from 1990 to 2014
  • The ABC television police drama “The Rookie” said it will no longer use “live” weapons and blanks but will instead use airsoft guns which fire plastic pellets with computer muzzle flashes

Could or Should Alex Baldwin Face Criminal Charges for His Movie Set Shooting?

It is important to understand the definitions of “negligent homicide” and “manslaughter” to better understand the possible criminal charges Alex Baldwin might face.

Negligent Homicide versus Manslaughter

Without a doubt, any crime involving the loss of life should be taken very seriously. My legal layman’s understanding is that “Negligent Homicide” is the killing of another person through gross negligence or without malice by conduct that grossly deviates from ordinary behavior. There is no intention to kill when Negligent Homicide is committed. It is sometimes called “Involuntary Manslaughter” and is a lesser offense than voluntary “Manslaughter” since it involves dangerous recklessness or negligence without intention, which causes death. Manslaughter and Murder are more serious crimes than Negligent Homicide. I have found that state laws vary, so it is important to check your local laws.

Conclusions

Alec Baldwin had a gun in his hands, pointed the gun at someone, and pressed the trigger. As a result, someone was killed, and another was injured. While we do not know all the details and facts at this time, some things we know. As knowledgeable firearms enthusiasts, shooters, and firearms professionals and instructors, we know there are specific gun safety rules which must be followed in any and all situations involving our deadly-force weapon. We each have a major responsibility to properly safety check each gun that we handle and shoot. This is a very serious matter, and each individual has a high level of responsibility and accountability. We also know that each individual gun user, handler, and shooter must accept personal responsibility for safely checking and using their gun, no matter if others have said the gun is safe, unloaded, or whatever the other person has done, said, or should have done. While many questions and details remain to be clarified in this terrible shooting tragedy, what is your opinion at this time about this deadly killing situation and criminal charges against Mr. Alec Baldwin?

Be Safe!

Photo by author.

* This personal opinion article is meant for general information & educational purposes only, and the author strongly recommends that you seek counsel from an attorney for legal advice and your own personal certified weapons trainer for proper guidance about shooting & using YOUR firearms, self-defense, and concealed carry. It should not be relied upon as accurate for all shooters & the author assumes no responsibility for anyone’s use of the information and shall not be liable for any improper or incorrect use of the information or any damages or injuries incurred whatsoever.

© 2021 Col Benjamin Findley. All Rights Reserved. This article may not be reprinted or reproduced in whole or in part by mechanical means, photocopying, electronic reproduction, scanning, or any other means without prior written permission. For copyright information, contact Col Ben Findley at ColBFF@gmail.com.

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"Col Ben" is retired with 30 years service in the U.S. Air Force, with joint services Special Ops duty and training, and is Air Force qualified as "Expert" in small arms. He is a Vietnam-era Veteran. Ben is an experienced NRA-Certified Pistol Instructor, NRA Range Safety Officer, and FL Concealed Carry License Instructor. Ben recently wrote the book "Concealed Carry and Handgun Essentials for Personal Protection" (second printing) with 57 comprehensive Chapters about concealed carry and handgun principles, techniques, and tips for both experienced and new shooters. His reference book is endorsed by several organizations and is available on his website at FloridaHandgunsTraining.com. Contact him at ColBFF@gmail.com.
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DC711

After watching and listening to numerous reports about this Alec Baldwin incident… I believe a prudent person, who has used guns/prop guns in movies numerous times over the years, would have himself, examined the prop gun, doing his own due diligence, and this horrible, avoidable tragedy would never have happened. There was so much wrong on this movie set and tragically an innocent person was killed, not by accident, but by carelessness and negligence.

jerry

Almost everything that we know about this incident has come from Balwin’s people. They rushed to get a press release out Thursday evening so that media outlet could run with the story Friday morning.

Steve

Negligent Homicide seems appropriate. Never except a gun without checking it yourself. Otherwise you’re playing Russian Roulette.

Alan1018

NO live ammo should ever be on a set. Any real firearm should have a blank adapter welded to the inside of the barrel. Any violation of either should be fines of at least $50k for the prop master, suppler of the firearm, the producer, and the director.

john jaklich

Interesting how the actor is handed prop guns regularly and for some reason, he was handed the gun with the comment, it’s not loaded with real bullets. Seems he was pretty trusting of someone else to check that as well as foolish about the comment from the person handing him the loaded gun…should have been a giveaway.

Robert

Thanks for a great summary and details of a terrible negligent homicide incident. There are basic safety rules that everyone must follow when handling any gun. Each shooter has a major responsibility to do a safety check on every gun he shoots and touches. The buck cannot be passed on to someone else. We are each responsible and accountable for every bullet that leaves the barrel of any gun we shoot. And we should not point our gun at anyone we don’t want to shoot. What a terrible tragedy that never should have happened, because the shooter was negligent.

Perry

Disgusting behavior by an uninformed liberal anti-gun person, who was using a gun negligently. This should not have occurred. There is no justifiable reason today for having guns loaded with blanks on any movie or television set. I agree with you.

john jaklich

Thanks for the insights on the incident. I have told people for years that the lessons Hollywood demonstrates before viewers is indeed educational and dangerous. They never exercise gun safety on their sets. They point guns at each other, hand loaded guns muzzle first to someone and they always use a gun to solve all their problems, in 30, 60 or 90 minutes. As is common with the anti gun crowd when an innocent life is violated by firearms, they will turn against some other innocent victims to violate their rights and safety by attacking those who lawfully carry with rational common sense. They will not go against the killer or negligent but instead, go against gun owners who would not even think of using a gun to solve all their problems. Hollywood and video game producers teach young people how to be reckless & negligent with a firearm, and without a conscience. I doubt any charges would come against Baldwin. I’m sure that honest, taxpaying, law-abiding gun owners will be maligned and further restricted in their own use and ownership of firearms… The cameras will keep rolling and the lessons learned in “how to use a gun to solve all your problems in 30 minutes or less” will continue to make billions