SAG-AFTRA calls Alec Baldwin’s ‘rust’ charges ‘incorrect and uninformed’

Actors union SAG-AFTRA issued a strong statement rebuking the decision to charge Alec Baldwin with manslaughter in the death of “Rust” cinematographer Halyna Hutchins, calling the move “wrong and uninformed.” .

“The death of Halyna Hutchins is a tragedy, all the more so for its preventable nature,” read the statement, which was released Thursday. “It is not a dereliction of duty or a criminal act on the part of any artist.”

In October 2021, Baldwin fired the shot that killed Hutchins while the “Rust” crew was inside a church building at Bonanza Creek Ranch near Santa Fe, New Mexico. Both the actor and the film’s gunsmith, Hannah Gutierrez Reed, who loaded the gun, have been charged with manslaughter by Mary Carmack-Altwies, the First District Attorney for the Santa Fe Judicial District. The film’s first assistant director, David Halls, who handed the firearm to Baldwin on set, has agreed to plead guilty to one count of negligent use of a deadly weapon.

“If any of these three people, Alec Baldwin, Hannah Gutierrez Reed or David Halls, had done their job, Halyna Hutchins would be alive today,” Andrea Reeb, the special prosecutor appointed by Carmack-Altwies to oversee the case, said in a statement. . “It’s that simple. The evidence clearly shows a pattern of criminal disregard for safety on the set of ‘Rust’. In New Mexico, there is no room for film sets that don’t take our state’s commitment to gun safety and public safety.

In its statement, SAG-AFTRA disagrees with the prosecutor’s reasoning.

“The prosecutor’s assertion that an actor has a duty to ensure the functional and mechanical operation of a firearm on a production set is incorrect and uninformed,” the statement said. “An actor’s job is not to be an expert on firearms or weapons. Firearms are provided for use under the guidance of multiple skilled professionals directly responsible for the safe and accurate operation of that firearm. In addition, the employer is always responsible for providing a safe work environment at all times, including hiring and supervising the work of weapons-trained professionals.”

The union points to codified industry standards from the Workplace Management Safety Commission that require “an experienced and qualified gunsmith to be in charge of all handling, use and custody of firearms on set.”

“The guidelines do not make it the responsibility of the artist to review any firearm,” the statement continues. “The performers are trained to perform, and they are not required or expected to be experts in weapons or have experience in their use. The industry assigns that responsibility to qualified professionals who oversee its use and handling in all aspects. Everyone who receives a firearm on set must receive training and orientation in its safe handling and use, but all firearm activity on set must be under the careful supervision and control of the professional gunsmith and employer.”

Baldwin has said that when Halls handed him the gun that killed Hutchins, he said it was “cold,” in other words, that it contained fake bullets. The gun was found to contain a live bullet, and other live rounds were found throughout the set.

Industry insiders have pointed out that it’s common practice for actors who handle firearms to follow general safety practices that Baldwin allegedly failed to follow on the set of “Rust,” according to on-set video, including keeping your finger off the gun. trigger during rehearsals and never point a finger. firearm directly at other people. Baldwin has repeatedly said that he is not to blame for Hutchins’ death, and his lawyers have pointed to a series of alleged errors by Halls, Gutierrez Reed and others in the shooting.

This is the full statement from SAG-AFTRA:

“The death of Halyna Hutchins is a tragedy, all the more so for its preventable nature. It is not a dereliction of duty or criminal act on the part of any performer.

“The prosecutor’s assertion that an actor has a duty to ensure the functional and mechanical operation of a firearm on a production set is incorrect and uninformed. An actor’s job is not to be an expert on weapons or firearms. Firearms are provided for use under the guidance of multiple skilled professionals directly responsible for the safe and accurate operation of that firearm. Additionally, the employer is always responsible for providing a safe work environment at all times, including hiring and supervising the work of weapons-trained professionals.

“Industry standards for firearms safety and the use of blank ammunition are clearly set out in Safety Bulletin 1, provided by the joint industry-wide Job Management Safety Commission. The guidelines require that an experienced and qualified gunsmith be in charge of all handling, use, and custody of firearms on set. These duties include “inspect the firearm and barrel before and after each firing sequence” and “check all firearms before each use.”

“The guidelines do not make it the artist’s responsibility to check any firearm. Performers are trained to perform, and are not required or expected to be an expert in weapons or experience in their use. The industry assigns that responsibility to qualified professionals who oversee its use and handling in all aspects. Everyone who receives a firearm on set must receive training and orientation in its safe handling and use, but all firearm activity on set must be under the careful supervision and control of the professional gunsmith and employer.”

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