Can Alec Baldwin Be Charged with Manslaughter Over Movie Set Shooting? Maybe Not – But It Was His Movie

Alec Baldwin speaking at the 2016 San Diego Comic Con International, for "The Boss Baby", at the San Diego Convention Center in San Diego, California. / Photo by Gage Skidmore via Flickr

ANALYSIS – From the moment news broke that actor and outspoken anti-gun liberal, Alec Baldwin had accidentally shot and killed a crew member on the movie set for his troubled, low-budget western-themed film, ‘Rust,’ opinions and spin have been flying fast from every direction.

It was clear that the Baldwin PR machine quickly moved to focus the blame on anyone but Baldwin.

First the focus was on the young, inexperienced set ‘armorer’ Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, who in fact is responsible for gun safety. She should have checked and cleared the gun – declaring it ‘cold’ before allowing it to be handled by anyone on set.

I wrote about that in my initial piece.

Following that, focus has also been directed at Assistant Director Dave Halls, who is also responsible for safety on the set, and reportedly handed Baldwin the loaded gun used in the fateful scene.

He says he believed it was ‘cold.’

Then there is the prop master who is also responsible for gun safety.

While there are mixed reports about the details involved in the gun’s handling, all of these persons are the most responsible for gun safety on set.

Meanwhile, almost every gun owner in America has been opining that Baldwin is ultimately responsible because he violated the basic rules of gun safety — not checking the gun to see if it was loaded and pointing at a person he didn’t intend to shoot.

As a gun owner and former Marine Corps officer the gun safety rules are part of my DNA, but how well do they apply to an actor on the set of a movie?

My take has been that actors are given prop guns to use. Sometimes the prop guns are fake, other times they are real but modified to only fire blanks.

In this case the gun was a real old western revolver.  And it was supposed to be loaded with fake bullets (dummy rounds) that look real but have the gunpowder removed with small holes in the casing. However, at least the one bullet fired turned out to be real.

Even if trained in gun safety, how is an actor supposed to check a revolver to see if each individual bullet is fake or real? Or if there is an obstruction in the barrel?

I don’t have an answer to that, and though I’m not an attorney, it’s likely one of the biggest reasons I think Baldwin can use that as a factor in mitigating any culpability for firing the deadly round.

But Baldwin shouldn’t get off that easily.

The biggest issue to me as I noted in my earlier piece is – why were there live rounds on set? Why were crew members firing this gun with live rounds for fun earlier? Why were there earlier reported accidental gun discharge incidents on the set?

To me this is all outrageous, unprofessional, and possibly criminal. Conditions on set were clearly unsafe.

There is no place for live rounds on a movie set. And Santa Fe police said they found 500 rounds, including live rounds, blanks, and dummy rounds on set.

And there is no place for idiotic crew members to be firing guns used in the movie with live rounds.

While he may not be ultimately charged with manslaughter, as a Producer of this film, Alec Baldwin bears responsibility for allowing the horribly unprofessional and unsafe conditions on the set which ultimately led to the death of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins.

It was Baldwin’s movie after all. The buck should stop with him. ADN

Paul Crespo is the Managing Editor of American Defense News. A defense and national security expert, he served as a Marine Corps officer and as a military attaché with the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) at US embassies worldwide. Paul holds degrees from Georgetown, London, and Cambridge Universities. He is also CEO of SPECTRE Global Risk, a security advisory firm, and President of the Center for American Defense Studies, a national security think tank. - - PAULCRESPO.COM

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6 months ago

Alec should be charged he is the one that pointed at the victim and pulled the trigger.

William Petite
William Petite
6 months ago

I would like someone to explain why so much live ammo, is on a movie set? A lot of people need to be held accountable, and charged. Never was a fan of Alec, but who ordered that amount of ammo? Alec might be at the top, but their are a lot more. The others on the set even walk out before this death, two accidental discharges before the death. That wasn’t enough warning, to get rid of all the live ammo? And clean up the set. Being that it is Hollywood, nothing of meaning will happen, just another elite group that gets away with no accountability

The patriot
The patriot
6 months ago

Maybe they should find out if the person he killed was a conservative or a Trump supporter

6 months ago

The law better not let Alec Baldwin walk on this tragedy

6 months ago

Whether he’s guilty or not, it is ironic: it couldn’t happen to a more demented, hate-filled raver.


[…] fatally shot cinematographer Halyna Hutchins on the set of his low-budget western “Rust.” As I noted earlier, while Baldwin may not be charged with manslaughter, he fired the old west revolver and as a […]

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