U.S.A. – -(Ammoland.com)- “In an arbitration demand against his fellow producers on the film, [Alec Baldwin] denied culpability in the killing of a cinematographer and said he should not be held financially responsible,” The New York Times reports. “[He] gave his most detailed account yet of fatally shooting a cinematographer on the set of the film Rust last year in an arbitration demand that his lawyers filed Friday against his fellow producers, claiming that his contract protected him from financial responsibility in her death and seeking coverage of his legal fees.”
“[H]e was not responsible for her death, since he had been assured that the gun did not contain any live ammunition and because he was not responsible for checking the ammunition or for firearm safety on the set,” the filing elaborates. And he was acting under the direction of shooting victim Halyna Hutchins, who “told Mr. Baldwin how to position the gun.”
“Mr. Baldwin then asked Ms. Hutchins if she wanted him to pull back the hammer, as the script instructed, and she said yes. Baldwin then pulled back the hammer, but not far enough to actually cock the gun. When Baldwin let go of the hammer, the gun went off.”
That old excuse… Guns don’t just “go off” without someone handling them.
“In the filing, Baldwin’s lawyer … says a clause … in his contract with Rust Movie Productions L.L.C. means he bears no financial responsibility for legal fees or claims arising out of the death.”
Perhaps, perhaps not. But private contracts are not binding on prosecutors finding cause for criminal charges.
“Alec Baldwin interview only reinforces Hutchins’ death as involuntary manslaughter,” attorney Andrew Branca concludes. “[ABC’s George Stephanopoulos] interview did nothing to change my legal opinion. Indeed, not only am I more convinced today than when I wrote my previous analysis that Alec Baldwin’s conduct qualifies as felony involuntary manslaughter under New Mexico law, his interview ‘testimony’ only strengthened that view. In other words, Alec Baldwin violated the first rule of finding that you’ve dug yourself into a hole—stop digging.”
That’s consistent with advice given in an instructive lecture that is now several years old but still extremely relevant, to all and especially to gun owners, by law professor James Duane, titled “Don’t Talk to the Police.” That’s because they will use not just what you say to them, but any public statements in building a case. And Baldwin, seemingly manic and obsessed to get the public to take his side and agree he’s the one getting the raw deal here, hasn’t shut up about trying to justify himself.
It’s the other producers’ fault. It’s the director’s fault. It’s the prop master’s/armorer’s fault. It’s the gun’s fault. Why does a Bart Simpson line come to mind?
Yeah, others share in the negligence, but the guy ultimately at fault is not persuading too many people or winning any friends trying to absolve himself, no matter who he has to climb over:
“‘Shameful’: Alec Baldwin blames Halyna Hutchins’ husband for ‘Rust’ not being finished after her death”
It is true that the gun Baldwin was using could have fired by releasing the hammer, The Reload notes if the model he used didn’t have a transfer bar. That’s something police investigators surely knew early on. It’s also true that (even though “Baldwin’s stunt-double accidentally fired two rounds … after being told that the gun was ‘cold’”) “an actor cannot rule that a gun is safe.”
“Rule” on it, no. Determine for himself, damn straight that’s his responsibility.
You can hand me a gun and assure me it’s not loaded. If I don’t validate that for myself, that’s my negligence. Baldwin has been using guns in films for decades. To argue he doesn’t know the fundamental rule of gun safety is absurd on its face. And there’s one other key question I haven’t seen asked anywhere but AmmoLand, the answer to which would be both relevant and instructive:
“Despite his very public anti-gun sentiments, one would think authorities will look into if Baldwin is a gun owner, for how long, and if he has been a concealed carry permit holder.”
It would be ironic, indeed if, after all those years railing for authorities to infringe on the rights of his countrymen, attorney Branca’s assessment of felony manslaughter bears out and Baldwin ends up a “prohibited person.”
As noted above, the “Don’t Talk to the police” video imparts essential information every gun owner needs to know about. If you don’t have time to watch it now, set aside time later when you can come back and do so. And tell a friend.
About David Codrea:
David Codrea is the winner of multiple journalist awards for investigating/defending the RKBA and a long-time gun owner rights advocate who defiantly challenges the folly of citizen disarmament. He blogs at “The War on Guns: Notes from the Resistance,” is a regularly featured contributor to Firearms News, and posts on Twitter: @dcodrea and Facebook.