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Words have meaning. Any firearm capable of pushing a projectile out of barrel is not a prop, even though it might be used as a prop. Blanks are capable of causing physical injury, serious physical injury, and death.
The investigation into the accidental shooting involving Alec Baldwin, the death of Director of Photography Halnya Hutchins, and the wounding of Director Joel Souza is ongoing. I’m not going to comment on what the result of that investigation will be. Two statements that have been made have caught my attention.
There were at least two accidental gun discharges on the set of an Alec Baldwin movie being filmed in New Mexico days before he fatally shot the cinematographer, according to three former members of the film’s crew. – from the New York Times
Guns do not discharge themselves. Someone has to pull the trigger. Guns used as a prop should not have a modified trigger, or a hair-trigger. If the discharges were due to mishandling the weapon that calls for better training of the actor. If the actor is uncooperative he/she should not be allowed to handle a firearm.
If the armorer determines there is a mechanical problem with the firearm then it’s time to find a gunsmith.
According to the affidavit by the detective in the Santa Fe County sheriff’s office, the gun used in the shooting was set up by Hannah Gutierrez, the production’s armorer, and handed to Mr. Baldwin by Dave Halls, the assistant director. Neither Ms. Gutierrez nor Mr. Halls responded to requests for comment. – from the New York Times
According to the current story Mr. Baldwin was told the gun was cold. A firearm that can fire blanks is never cold. It’s either empty, or loaded.
There should be a chain of custody protocol on a movie, or television set. The armorer should hand the firearm to the actor. As a secondary check the armorer should check the weapon in the presence of the actor. The actor should not receive the firearm from anyone else on the crew.
All firearms that can fire a projectile should be considered hot. I treat my own firearms, and a firearm that belongs to anyone else as hot before I clean them, handle them, or if a friend would like to handle one. I follow that protocol at a gun store.
Actors in particular are at serious risk of injury from blank cartridges used on movie sets. Several actors have been killed in such mishaps:
Brandon Lee was killed while filming a scene for the 1994 film The Crow when a .44-caliber S&W Model 629 revolver used as a prop that contained a squib load — a bullet accidentally stuck in the gun barrel — was fired with a blank cartridge, which propelled the lodged bullet down the barrel. As reported in the investigation and court records, the dummy round used during an earlier shoot was handloaded by someone other than a firearms expert, who removed the propellant powder but unknowingly left a live primer in place, resulting in a bullet being separated from the casing without enough energy behind it to exit the barrel. The gun was not properly checked for the retained bullet prior to the incident, and the squib load was then blown out of the barrel by the blast energy of the blank, fatally injuring Lee.
Jon-Erik Hexum was killed on the set of the TV series Cover Up, when he placed a blank-loaded .44 Magnum revolver to his right temple and pulled the trigger as a joke — the powerful shockwave from the blank cartridge caused a depression fracture to the skull, sending bone fragments deep into his brain and causing severe intracranial hemorrhage. He died a few days after the accident.
Johann Ofner, a professional stunt double, was killed in 2017 while filming a scene for Bliss n Eso music video “Dopamine” in the Brooklyn Standard bar in Brisbane.
A 17-year old was playing with a gun used in a St. George, Utah high school theatre program to be used in a production of Oklahoma!, and accidentally killed himself, thinking that “blank” cartridges were harmless. – from Wikipedia