SAG-AFTRA, which called Hutchins’ 2021 shooting an avoidable “tragedy”, said in a statement on Thursday that his death is not “a dereliction of duty or a criminal act on the part of any performer”.
“The prosecutor’s claim that an actor has a duty to ensure the functional and mechanical operation of a firearm on a production set is erroneous and misinformed,” the union said. “An actor’s job is not to be a firearms expert.”
Santa Fe District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies, along with Special Counsel Andrea Reeb, announced that charges would be brought against Baldwin, gunsmith Hannah Gutierrez-Reed and assistant director David Halls for filming on the New Mexico movie set. . Reeb said that Hutchins would be alive if the three defendants did “their jobs”.
Baldwin claimed that he received the pistol from Halls – who declared the gun “cold”, meaning it contained no real shells – and claimed that he did not pull the trigger.
The shot that killed Hutchins also wounded director Joel Souza.
The actors’ union said “artists train to act” and are not expected to be weapons experts.
“The industry places this responsibility on qualified professionals who oversee its use and handling in all aspects,” the union said.
The full SAG-AFTRA statement is below:
The death of Halyna Hutchins is a tragedy, all the more so because it was preventable. It is not a failure of duty or a criminal act on the part of any executor.
The prosecutor’s claim that an actor has a duty to ensure the functional and mechanical operation of a firearm on a production set is erroneous and misinformed. An actor’s job is not to be a firearms expert. Firearms are provided for your use under the guidance of a number of skilled professionals directly responsible for the safe and accurate operation of that firearm. Furthermore, the employer is always responsible for providing a safe work environment at all times, including hiring and supervising the work of trained weapons professionals.
Industry Standards for firearm safety and the use of empty ammunition are clearly defined in Safety Bulletin 1, provided by the Joint Industry-Wide Labor Management Safety Commission. The guidelines require that an experienced and qualified gunsmith be in charge of all handling, use and storage of firearms on set. These duties include ‘inspecting the firearm and barrel before and after each round of fire’ and ‘checking all firearms before each use’.
The guidelines do not make it the responsibility of the executor to check any firearm. Performers train to act, and are not required or expected to be experts in weapons or experienced in their use. The industry assigns this responsibility to qualified professionals who oversee its use and handling in all aspects. Anyone who has a firearm on set must receive training and guidance in its safe handling and use, but all firearm activities on set must be under the careful supervision and control of the professional gunsmith and employer.