It has been reported by numerous news sources that acclaimed Hollywood actor Alec Baldwin, 63, fatally shot a female and wounded a male in New Mexico on Thursday while filming his new movie Rust. The deceased female victim was identified as the film’s cinematographer Halyna Hutchins, 42. The injured male victim was identified as the film’s director, Joel Souza, 48. Souza was treated and later released from the hospital.

Rust is a western about a 13-year-old boy left to fend for himself and goes on the run with his long-estranged grandfather after he’s sentenced to hang for the accidental killing of a local rancher, according to IMDb.


Shooting Blamed on Misfire of Prop Gun

It remains unclear as to how the tragic events unfolded on set, but it has been reported by some outlets that the weapon Baldwin was using misfired. Yet another news organization stated that Baldwin shot a real projectile out of a prop gun. Those narratives differ greatly.

The events on Thursday were tragic and while I’m not second-guessing what happened on that set, I would like to clear up the differing information that has been reported, seemingly by those unfamiliar with firearms. The only way we can try to prevent a tragedy such as this from happening again in the future is to intelligently discuss what went wrong on this set.

The term “misfire” denotes a specific problem when firing a weapon. It isn’t a broad term that can be used for any generic gun accident. According to NRA Family, “A misfire is a failure of the priming mixture to be initiated after the primer (or rim of a rimfire case) has been struck an adequate blow by the firing pin, or the failure of the initiated primer to ignite the powder. ”

So you see, a misfire does not result in the explosion of the gunpowder in the cartridge that expels the bullet from the barrel, which would have had to happen to kill one person and wound another.

Secondly, any firearm capable of firing a bullet is not a prop. Many of the firearms used on movie sets are actual firearms that are loaded with blank rounds for safety. One common misconception about blanks is that they are inherently safe. One has to remember that the pressure and concussive force of the weapon remains mostly intact even when a blank is used. As an example, I once was in an active shooter training simulation in which 12-gauge shotguns were loaded with blanks. The concussive force of the shotgun was so ferocious that the first time it was fired up into the air it blew a hole in the ceiling right above our heads. Blanks are not intrinsically safe. On the set of a movie set in the Old West, the firearms used would be .45 caliber pistols like the Colt Peacemaker or the Smith & Wesson Schofield. The power charge in these rounds is very powerful and at close range poses a serious danger of injury or even death.