And Should Be Charged with Felony Crimes
Ever notice that every time a leftist screws up – which happens on every day that ends in “y” – it’s always someone else’s fault? Think about the drooling sock puppet wandering around the Oval Office. Nine months in office, everything he’s touched has turned to crap, and it’s all still Trump’s fault. Everyone, including the Drooler-in-Chief himself, refuses to acknowledge the utter incompetence of the ventriloquists with their hands up his butt.
Which brings us to Alec Baldwin. While rehearsing a scene for a western in which he was facing in the direction of the camera – a shot known as a “reverse” – his gun discharged, the bullet striking the cinematographer, passing through her, and also hitting the film’s director, who was standing behind her, wounding him and killing her. Baldwin claims that when the gun was handed to him he was told it was “cold”, meaning unloaded. That it was a “one-in-a-trillion accident”; that industry standards need to be revised to prevent a reoccurrence of such an event, perhaps to the extent of banning all real guns from film sets; that the film crew was a “well-oiled” team; in other words, “It wasn’t my fault!”.
All of which pegged my BS Meter big time.
First of all, the most important rule of handling guns is that you treat every gun as loaded all the time unless you’ve personally verified it isn’t, and never point a gun at anyone or anything unless you’re ready to kill or destroy it. Period. If God had given us an Eleventh Commandment, that would be it. It’s not only the cardinal rule of guns, but it’s just plain common sense, and Baldwin chose to ignore it.
Further, I can draw on my own personal experience. Way back in ancient times I was a working actor (Brian Baker – IMDb). In two of the shows I shot – Baretta (“Baretta” It Goes with the Job (TV Episode 1977) – IMDb) and The Incredible Hulk (“The Incredible Hulk” The Disciple (TV Episode 1979) – IMDb) – my characters were involved in gunfights. Here’s how that’s done. The scene is first shot in “master”, meaning a wide shot that includes most or all of the actors and all the major elements of the scene visible in the frame. Then “reverse” or close-ups are shot of the players, those shots used to provide pacing and emphasis as part of the artistic and creative process.
In several other shows I was in my characters were cops who never drew their guns. In those shows I was given an actual “prop gun”, basically an inoperable replica gun made of pot metal or rubber, the sole function of which was to stuff my character’s holster. The guns we used in Baretta and Hulk were actual working guns, so when Baldwin bleats about “prop guns” he’s basically highlighting his ignorance, if not consciously trying to minimize his responsibility.
In the scenes leading up to the filmed gunfights in both shows my characters were costumed with prop guns. Working pistols were kept locked up by the set armorer until it was time to use them. When that time came, here’s the process. The prop master took away my prop gun. The armorer arrived with the real gun. He opened the cylinder – this was in the era when cops used revolvers, not semi-autos – and we both verified it was empty. Then he looked down the bore to confirm it was clear, handed the gun to me, and I did the same thing. He took the gun back. He then presented six blank rounds. We both inspected them and confirmed they were blanks. He then loaded them into the cylinder, closed it, and placed the gun in my holster. I was not allowed to draw the gun until it was time to shoot the scene.
After we shot the master, he took the gun back until it was time for my close-up, the “reverse” shot, at which point we repeated the process.
When firing the gun, I always made sure my gun wasn’t actually pointing directly at any people. The camera can’t tell exactly where the gun’s aimed, so it’s really easy, and a basic safety precaution, to aim slightly off-target. This is especially true when shooting the reverse angle, what Baldwin was doing when he shot his victims. You’re very close to other people and the gun’s pointing in their general direction. Even blanks can be deadly at close range if they’re wadded and not crimped. Definitely the time to take extra precautions. The standard practice in those days – and I have no reason to think standards have gotten looser with the passage of time – was to coordinate with the director exactly where the gun would be aimed, and then clear any people from the area directly in front of the barrel of the gun. In other words, a simple and basic safety precaution.
From what I’ve read about the Baldwin event, precisely none of what I just described was taking place on the set of his movie.
The armorer – the one person with direct responsibility for securing and controlling the guns and ammunition of the production – was a 24-year-old kid with virtually no experience in the job. Guns and ammunition were occasionally left lying around unsupervised. There are reports of members of the crew grabbing production guns during breaks to use recreationally, with live ammunition. The presence anywhere on the location of actual live ammunition is, frankly, unimaginable. The gun was reported as being handed to Baldwin by someone other than the armorer… Why? And why didn’t Baldwin question that? Why didn’t the actual armorer prevent that?
“Well, why should Baldwin the actor be criminally charged?”, you might ask. After all, he simply fired the gun he was given by someone else. While that seems to be the case, he failed to observe even the most rudimentary precautions before pulling the trigger, meaning his negligence caused the death and injury to the victims. In my opinion that negligence reaches the level of criminal conduct; manslaughter, negligent homicide, something on that order.
“But as an actor he’s not in charge of the conditions leading to this incident”, you respond. While that’s probably true, he’s also one of the producers of the project, and the producers are the people ultimately responsible for what happens during a production. They allocate the budget, hire the personnel, provide the props and location and everything else that’s actually present while the film is being made.
Someone made the decision to hire an unqualified armorer to supervise the guns and ammunition. Someone made the decision to hire an assistant director who seems to have taken it upon himself to hand a loaded gun to Baldwin on that set. Someone made the apparent decision that saving production money warranted possibly hiring people to perform certain functions more cheaply because they were less qualified.
In the movie world, that “someone” is the producer… one of which was Baldwin himself. Those decisions as producer led directly to the death of one victim and injury to the other. Again, that poor prioritization and decision making rises to the level of criminal conduct in my opinion.
It was no different from handing the keys to a Porsche to a 14-year-old kid and telling him to have fun. It was beyond stupid.
It was a crime.
©Brian Baker 2021