Reports: Alec Baldwin Was Handed 'Loaded' Prop Gun, but Was Told It Was 'Cold'

(AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall, File)

Things are not sounding good as more information comes out about the incident in which Alec Baldwin shot a cinematographer and the director on a movie set Thursday.

Now there are reports that there had been a lot of problems before the shooting – that the crew was upset about long hours, low pay, and having to commute 50 miles from Albuquerque instead of staying in Santa Fe. According to the Los Angeles Times, the camera crew walked off the production just hours before the shooting:

As the camera crew — members of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees — spent about an hour assembling their gear at the Bonanza Creek Ranch, several nonunion crew members showed up to replace them, the knowledgeable person said…

“Corners were being cut — and they brought in nonunion people so they could continue to shooting,” the knowledgeable person said.

There were two misfires on the prop gun and one the previous week, the person said, adding “there was a serious lack of safety meetings on this set.”…

The shooting occurred about six hours after the union camera crew left.

On top of those issues, according to the LA Times, the woman who was killed, cinematographer Halyna Hutchins, was “advocating for safer conditions for her team.” So what was she seeing and with what did she have a problem? Did any of those problems contribute to her being killed?

This all raises the question of whether or not the shooting had any relation to the problems on the set: was it due to someone who wasn’t experienced in a job?

We reported earlier today that according to the IATSE Local 44 – the union includes prop masters – that Baldwin fired a live round and that the prop master was not a member of the union.

The Times further clarified the union’s report about the gun having a live round.

A source close to The Times said the union does not know what projectile was in the gun and clarified that ‘live’ is an industry term that refers to a gun being loaded with some material such as a blank ready for filming.

But as gun expert Stephen Gutowski pointed out in The Atlantic, even blanks can cause problems.

Blanks are usually cartridges that are manufactured without the inclusion of the bullet. They still feature a primer and powder charge, though, at about half the strength of a live round.

That means they still expel a lot of hot gas at a high rate of speed and can still be dangerous. This is especially true if something is lodged in the prop gun’s barrel that the charge can propel forward.

The latest report indicates that Baldwin was handed the gun loaded with ‘live rounds’ but didn’t know it was loaded, that the assistant director believed it was safe and told Baldwin it was a ‘cold gun,’ indicating that it was safe. But it’s not clear how the ‘live round’ got into the gun.

My colleague Brandon Morse wrote a piece earlier today about the desperate need for better firearm education to avoid such incidents. Unfortunately, we’ve seen incidents in the past on movie sets, including the death of Brandon Lee that tragically didn’t need to happen and usually involve a bad mistake in the safety process.

Clearly, there were issues if they had prior problems with the guns. Moreover, Baldwin was not just an actor in this film and the person holding the weapon; he was also a co-producer, which could mean he might bear some responsibility for any alleged issues. No doubt a lot more will be coming, but the police need to ask a lot of questions as to what was going on here.

(EDITOR’S NOTE: An industry professional provided RedState with a link to “Safety Bulletin No. 1 RECOMMENDATIONS FOR SAFETY WITH FIREARMS AND USE OF “BLANK AMMUNITION,” which is the industry standard regarding firearms handling on sets.)