Here at SOFREP, the Special Operations Report written by military veterans, we instantly mistrusted initial reports about the on-set tragedy in which actor Alec Baldwin fatally shot a cinematographer.

They reported that a “prop” gun, held by Baldwin while rehearsing a scene, “misfired” and “accidentally” killed Halyna Hutchins and wounded director Joel Souza — as if it were a weird, freak accident that no one could have predicted.

In fact, the term “misfire” refers to a defect in the primer at the back of the bullet casing that generally prevents the detonation of the powder charge that expels the bullet from the barrel. A “misfire” does not result in a gun firing but the opposite: it doesn’t fire at all.

Secondly, it isn’t an “accident” when you point a loaded handgun at someone and pull the trigger. In real life, it’s assault with a deadly weapon to intentionally point a firearm at someone, loaded or not. In the context of a movie, it’s irresponsible and negligent.

Photos of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins are displayed before a vigil held to honor her at Albuquerque Civic Plaza

We also reacted to the word “prop” being used to describe the firearm itself. To us — and to most people, I’d guess — a prop is a rubber, wood, or even metal representation of a firearm but is not an actual, functioning weapon that is capable of firing real ammunition that can maim or kill. A prop-gun is a realistic-looking toy that movies use to play make-believe for the camera. If a Bengal tiger had been on the movie set and mauled two people, one of them fatally, would anyone call it a “prop tiger”?

In just a matter of days, contradictory details emerged. The gun wasn’t a toy but an actual firearm. The police have seized some 500 rounds of various types of ammunition from the set including blanks, dummy rounds, and live ammunition. At least three people appear to have handled the pistol before it was fired, including the armorer hired to safely handle these weapons, an assistant director, and Baldwin himself. This means there were three chances to make sure the firearm was not loaded with live ammunition.

As far as we know, the film’s 24-year-old head armorer, Hannah Gutierrez Reed, had no special training or licenses to ensure she was qualified (beyond whatever she may have been taught by her father, a well-known Hollywood armorer). By contrast, if animals are used in a movie, the set is closely supervised by an American Humane Society Certified Animal Safety Representative who oversees the treatment of the animals. Movie companies get their scripts approved by the AHS in advance and they sign off on the credentials of any animal handlers assigned to the film, which often include veterinarians. In exchange for following these practices, producers are permitted by AHS to say in the credits, “No animals were harmed in the production of this film.”

So while Hollywood is very serious about the safe handling of animals on the set and the safety of the crew around those animals, this is not the case with guns. There are guidelines covering basic rules of safety issued by studios on how to treat firearms. Under the “Safety on the Set” category for Warner Brothers Studios website, they even type them all in capital letters so you know they really mean business.