Actors union SAG-AFTRA has issued a strongly-worded statement condemning the decision to charge Alec Baldwin with involuntary manslaughter in the death of “Rust” cinematographer Halina Hutchins, calling the move “wrong and ill-advised.”
“The death of Halina Hutchins is a tragedy, and all the more so because of its preventable nature,” the statement released Thursday said. “It is not a failure of duty or a criminal act on the part of any actor.”
In October 2021, Baldwin fired the shots that killed Hutchins while the “Rust” crew were inside a church building at Bonanza Creek Ranch near Santa Fe, N.M. Both the actor and the film’s gunman, Hannah Gutierrez Reed, who loaded the weapon . A charge of involuntary manslaughter has been filed by First Judicial District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altwiz in Santa Fe. The film’s first assistant director, David Halls — who passed the firearm to Baldwin on set — agreed to plead guilty to a charge of negligent use of a deadly weapon.
“Halina Hutchins would be alive today if any of these three people – Alec Baldwin, Hannah Gutierrez Reid or David Halls – had done their job,” said Andrea Reeb, the special prosecutor appointed by Carmack-Altwiese, who oversaw the case. A statement “It’s that simple. The evidence clearly shows a pattern of criminal disregard for safety on ‘Rusty’ film sets. In New Mexico, there is no place for a film set that doesn’t take seriously our state’s commitment to gun safety and public safety.”
In its statement, SAG-AFTRA took issue with the prosecutor’s argument.
“The prosecutor’s argument that an actor has a responsibility to ensure the effective and mechanical operation of firearms on production sets is misguided and ill-informed,” the statement said. “An actor’s job is not to be a firearms or weapons expert. Firearms are provided for their use under the guidance of a number of specialist professionals directly responsible for the safe and proper operation of that firearm. Additionally, the employer is responsible at all times for providing a safe working environment, including employing professionals trained in firearms and supervising the work.”
The union points to industry standards codified by the Labor Management Safety Commission that require that “an experienced, qualified armorer be assigned responsibility for all handling, use and safety of firearms on set.”
“The guidelines do not oblige the performer to check any firearms,” the statement continued. “Actors train to perform, and are not required or expected to be gun experts or experienced in their use. The industry entrusts that responsibility to qualified professionals who oversee their use and handling in every aspect. Anyone issued a firearm on set must Training and instruction in safe handling and use must be provided, but all activities with firearms on set must be under the careful supervision and control of the professional armorer and employer.
Baldwin says that when Halls gave him the gun that killed Hutchins it was “cold” — in other words, containing dummy rounds. A live bullet was found in the gun and other live rounds were found throughout the set.
Industry experts noted that it is common practice for actors handling firearms to follow common safety practices that Baldwin allegedly did not do on the set of “Rust,” including keeping his finger off the trigger during rehearsals and never pointing firearms directly at other people, according to on-set videos. . Baldwin has repeatedly said he is not guilty of Hutchins’ death, and his lawyers have pointed to a series of alleged wrongdoings by Hall, Gutierrez Reed and others in the shooting.
This is the full statement from SAG-AFTRA:
“The death of Halina Hutchins is a tragedy, and more so because of its preventable nature. It is not a dereliction of duty or a criminal act on the part of any actor.
“The prosecutor’s contention that an actor has a duty to ensure efficient and mechanical operation of firearms on production sets is wrong and ill-informed. An actor’s job is not to be a firearms or weapons expert. Firearms are provided for their use under the guidance of a number of specialist professionals directly responsible for the safe and proper operation of that firearm. In addition, the employer is responsible for providing a safe work environment at all times, including hiring professionals trained in firearms and supervising their work.
“Industry standards for safety with the use of firearms and blank ammunition are clearly laid out in Safety Bulletin 1, which is provided by the Joint Industry-Wide Labor Management Safety Commission. Assign an experienced, qualified armorer to be responsible for all handling, use and safety of firearms on set for guidelines. These duties include “inspecting the firearm and barrel before and after each firing sequence,” and “checking all firearms before each use.”
“The guidelines do not create a duty on the performer to test any firearm. Performers train to perform, and are not required or expected to be experts with guns or experienced in their use. The industry entrusts that responsibility to qualified professionals who oversee their use and operation in every aspect. Anyone issued a firearm on set must be trained and instructed in its safe handling and use, but all activities involving firearms on set must be under the careful supervision and control of the professional armorer and employer.”