Hollywood gun safety at issue after fatal misfire on Rust movie set

Atticus Chames, Staff Writer

Cinematographer Halyna Hutchins was fatally shot on Thursday, Oct. 21 by actor Alec Baldwin during the production of the western film Rust, when he fired a loaded prop gun handed to him by the film’s assistant director, Dave Hall. 

Behind Hutchins was the director Joel Souza, who was struck in the shoulder after the bullet was fired. Baldwin, the producers, armorer and assistant director are now facing the first of many potential lawsuits claiming negligence. 

Serge Svetnoy, head of lighting for the film and close friends with Hutchins, tried to keep her alert and awake as she bled out. Paramedics arrived soon after, taking her to a hospital in Albuquerque, where she was pronounced dead hours later.

Svetnoy was the first to sue, alleging that the events caused him “severe emotional distress” and that he was inches away from becoming a third victim. 

“They should never, ever, have had live rounds on this set,” Svetnoy’s attorney, Gary A. Dordick, expressed.

Santa Fe District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies appeared on Good Morning America to discuss concerns of sabotage. She also revealed that investigators know who loaded the gun, but they are unsure how the live rounds ended up on the movie set.

Halls, the assistant director, admitted to not fully checking the gun before the shooting, stating that he should have checked all of the chambers, “but didn’t.”

Since the incident, many have called for a ban on the use of real weapons in movie sets. Some productions, such as ABC’s The Rookie have already taken steps towards eradicating the use of live weapons on their sets. Baldwin has called for productions to employ police officers on set to monitor their weapons. 

Ultimately, Svetnoy said, negligence is what killed his friend.

“The negligence from the person who was supposed to check the weapon on the site did not do this; the person who had to announce that the loaded gun was on the site did not do this; the person who should have checked this weapon before bringing it to the set did not do it.”