Prosecutors in Baldwin trial misattribute blame

Actor Alec Baldwin has been charged with manslaughter after accidentally setting off a loaded gun on the set of “Rust,” killing cinematographer Halyna Hutchins and injuring director Joel Souza.

The film was being shot in New Mexico when Baldwin, who was both an actor and producer of the film, shot Hutchins while rehearsing a scene. The film’s armorer, Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, is also being charged with involuntary manslaughter.

Hutchins is from Horodets’, a village in Ukraine. The late cinematographer moved to Los Angeles in the early 2000’s, where she began making films and enrolled in UCLA’s producing program. She then earned her master’s degree from the American Film Institute Conservatory in 2015.

“It’s pretty sad what happened to Hutchins,” said history major Lindsay Rulli, “and I think if Baldwin were only an actor then it would be okay, but he should have been more responsible than that.”

Hutchins’ family filed a lawsuit against Baldwin and other crew members of the film on Feb.15, 2022, which was settled for an undisclosed sum on Oct. 5.

Baldwin has continued to claim that he is not responsible for the death of Hutchins and that he did not pull the prop gun’s trigger, only pulling back the hammer of the gun and releasing it. However, last August, an FBI forensic analyst concluded that the trigger must have been pulled.

If found fully guilty of the charges, both Baldwin and Gutierrez-Reed could be sentenced to up to five years in prison. Baldwin has commented on the charges, calling them “a terrible miscarriage of justice.”

“Yeah, of course it’s a bad look for Baldwin, he’s the biggest star on the set by far,” said senior filmmaking major Becca Jett. “But I think we should cut him some slack, he’s not monitoring armory and props.”

Regardless of what happens with Baldwin and the charges New Mexico prosecutors have slapped down on him and his film crew, a very simple, yet important question needs to be asked:

Why was there any live ammunition present on the set in the first place?

John Wayne could very well be rolling over in his grave. The golden goose of the spaghetti western era had starred in almost 80 films, and not once was there ever a known problem with props, armory or rehearsal management.

Hollywood never ceases to amaze with its vibrancy, creativity and overall talent; but it also never ceases to amaze with its blatant stupidity. Gutierrez-Reed had one job to do, and she failed, miserably.

From here on out, ammunition and other deadly material should be illegal on movie sets, and authorities should be present, monitoring those sites that are specifically within a genre that includes violence.

Baldwin, on the other hand, should not be charged with involuntary manslaughter like Gutierrez-Reed. Baldwin was a face to represent and expose the film, and he shouldn’t receive most of the blame. He was simply rehearsing, and although the gun was fired in his hands, it’s not his job to make sure the gun isn’t actually lethal.

This could be the beginning of a new era in Hollywood, where people on movie sets make conscious decisions and actually do their jobs. This won’t be the last of Baldwin, but it should certainly put the rest of the film industry on high notice.

Photo courtesy of Gage Skidmore, Flickr