In recent weeks, the news cycle has been filled with updates on the tragic accident on the set of Rust. For those who don’t know, on the set of Alec Baldwin’s upcoming film, there was a fatal shooting. The actor fired a gun that was supposed to be filled with dummy rounds, sadly took the life of director of photography Halyna Hutchins. Director Joel Souza was also injured. Armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed has retained counsel and maintains she doesn’t know how a live round ended up with the dummy rounds. However, now her attorneys are suggesting that this is not just an accident. They propose that this was the result of on-set sabotage.
In an interview with Today (via Deadline) Gutierrez’s attorneys Jason Bowles and Robert Gorence claimed to have a possible answer to the Alec Baldwin shooting. As to how Gutierrez-Reed loaded the gun herself, yet has no idea how the round ended up in the gun, they suggest foul play. Bowles and Gorence suggest that this could have been the result of sabotage. They pose the theory that someone intentionally replaced a dummy round with the live round in hope that it would cause harm.
When pressed to clarify this question, Gutierrez-Reed’s attorneys are non committal. They state that many possibilities are being explored. “We have people that walked off set, who left because they were disgruntled,” Bowles remarks. “There was opportunity to tamper with this scene.” This is not entirely out of the realm of possibility. At this time, there is no evidence to say if this theory is fact or if Gutierrez-Reed bears more responsibility. The case is still being investigated and there is no telling what direction it will go.
This topic will surely be up for debate for the time being. There is no conclusion in sight. However, the fact remains that this was only Gutierrez-Reed’s second film where she was the on-set Armorer.
Many have brought up feelings that this situation resembles a similar one on the set of The Crow. In 1993, actor Brandon Lee was killed while filming with a prop gun. While accidental, there is no question that consequences need to be seen in this instance.
Many people in the industry have come out against the process of putting rounds in guns. Because of this tragedy, many are condemning rounds and promising to no longer use them in their films. In Europe, gun safety is another matter entirely. In an article for Variety, many gun safety experts were interviewed. On those sets, live rounds do not exist. Filmmakers enact a practice called “plugging.” They insert gun plugs into the barrels so no such accidents can happen.
Regardless of why or how it happened, the result is the same. An innocent life was taken as a result from carelessness on a set. Intent does not matter. People were hurt because of the mishap. Going forward, more care should be taken for guns being used on sets. And judging by the reaction to this tragedy, filmmaking will change in the future.