Happiness is a cold gun?

Because it’s Friday and I feel like arguing…

Although much of the uproar over the Alec Baldwin gun mishap has died down, there is still some “discussion” about it on social media. Perhaps the most recent school shooting has rekindled it – I don’t know, but I have some thoughts on the topic and I’m pretty sure they’ll start a fire because, like many things happening in the US these days there doesn’t seem to be much willingness to compromise. Everybody has a stance, and they’ve dug in.

With that being said…let’s get into it.

A quick recap:

On Oct 21, 2021 Alec Baldwin fired a weapon while rehearsing a scene for the movie “Rust”, killing cinematographer Halyna Hutchins and wounding director Joel Souza.

The set of Rust where the accident occurred.

Subsequent eye-witness accounts say that several of the strict firearm safety protocols required on set were not followed and that Baldwin was handed the weapon by an assistant director who shouted “Cold Gun” – meaning the weapon had been checked and contained no ammunition – not even blanks.

To quote Kevin Bacon from the movie “A Few Good Men” – “These are the facts, and they are undisputed.”

The ultimate question in this tragedy is – Who is responsible?

One person is dead and another injured…somebody has to be held accountable.

From what I’m seeing, the majority of people seem to think Alec Baldwin should get that particular distinction.

Oddly enough – a year ago I probably would have been one of those people. It’s a very simple and straight-forward argument…the person who pulled the trigger is responsible.

In the interest of full disclosure – I am not now, nor have I ever been a ‘gun person’. I don’t have anything against guns, and I support the second amendment, however, I choose not to own a gun. In other words, you do your thing and I’ll do mine…just don’t point your gun at me. So along with my position on guns comes a very simple stance on gun related deaths – if you point a gun at somebody and pull the trigger – you are responsible for what happens.

However, I find myself on the other side of that fence with this case – and I’ll tell you why…

About a year ago I began working on a film adaptation of my novel Unfinished Business. Recently we (Blindogg Productions) have also begun work on a mini-series based on my novel Backseat to Justice. Since embarking on this mission I have learned more than you can imagine about the way movies are made and, more importantly, how things are done on set (and believe me –  the sum of my new-found knowledge is only a fraction of what it could be).

A film set is an extremely organized place. Like a bee hive.

Every person there has a job to do – and that’s what they do.

The sound person doesn’t tell the light guy what bulbs to use. The set designer doesn’t try to operate a camera and the person in charge of script supervision doesn’t sit in the director’s chair.

Period.

It is literally that simple.

You do your job and everybody else does theirs.

On sets where firearms are involved there are people with very specific functions related to the safety of weapons, among them are the prop master and the weapons master.

Since the 1993 accidental death of Brandon Lee, there is a long list of safety protocols that must be followed as well.

According to numerous eye-witness accounts, not only were many of these protocols not followed, but the weapons master and prop master were not on set when the accident occurred. That in itself is a violation.

Instead – Baldwin was handed the gun by an assistant direct (who has since been fired) and told it was a “cold gun” – meaning it was safe to use.

That act is also a gross violation of protocol. Nobody but the weapons master should ever declare a gun safe to use.

There are also (unconfirmed) reports that the weapons cart was left unattended during a lunch break and that some crew members were using the gun in question during a break to shoot targets behind the set – with LIVE ammunition. This raises a plethora of questions, not the least of which is how in the name of all that is holy was this allowed?

So, picture yourself as Alec Baldwin…you exist in a world where each person has a job to do – a rule which is practically sacrosanct.

Your job is to act.

As part of your job, you want to rehearse a scene which requires you to draw a gun and point it at the camera. You are handed a gun. You are told, in no uncertain terms, the gun is safe. According to the rules of your world, you believe what you are told and go about rehearsing the scene…

And tragedy strikes.

As I said – before I became involved in film-making I had a much more hard-lined stance on things like this, but now that I have a little more understanding of the situation, I am not so convinced that Alec Baldwin is to blame. There was a chain of events, not of his doing, which led to him holding a loaded weapon.

At best he has a small share of the blame.

Ahead of him should be (in no particular order):

The weapons master whose sole function, and the reason she (on this particular set the weapons master was a female) is paid piles of cash, is to make sure that all weapons on set are constantly monitored, maintained, cleaned and stored in a safe manner as well as to make sure that any weapon handed to an actor has been cleared for safety.

The person who handed the weapon to Baldwin and shouted “cold gun” for all on set to hear.

The idiot (and I’m being kind) who inserted a real bullet into a prop gun.

The prop master whose responsibility is the handling and monitoring of all props.

And probably a few others.

So, there it is…my take on the Alec Baldwin shooting fiasco.

Bottom line, Baldwin is not some kid who took a loaded weapon into a school with the sole intention of killing people…he is an actor who was doing his job and counted on others to do theirs.

Please feel free to tell me I’m wrong, as long as you can support your argument with facts.

As always – thank you for reading.

4 Comments

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4 responses to “Happiness is a cold gun?

  1. Well said, Tim. I’ve learnt a lot from reading this post.

  2. Doris Martin

    Agreed — well said, Tim. And as an aside, we (my husband and I) enjoy reading your posts and opinions (and a few of your books — so far). We appreciate how you are able to take that structured thinking to “paper” with reason and understandability. You have chosen the “write” profession, or maybe it has chosen you. 😉

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