Dem California senator proposes ban of ‘live firearms’ and real ammo on theatrical productions

Hollywood actor and producer Alec Baldwin was responsible last week for a negligent discharge with a prop gun on the set of a movie he was filming in New Mexico that left cinematographer Halyna Hutchins dead, and director Joel Souza injured.

Now, a Democratic California state senator is introducing legislation that would ban the use of live ammunition and real guns capable of firing such ammunition in any sort of theatrical production in the state, Fox News reported.

The legislation will be introduced by Democratic state Sen. Dave Cortese (CA), chair of the Labor Committee, with an aim toward improving workers’ rights and safety on set during film and TV productions.

The ban

“There is an urgent need to address alarming work abuses and safety violations occurring on the set of theatrical productions, including unnecessary high-risk conditions such as the use of live firearms,” Sen. Cortese said in a Saturday press release.

“It is important that California establish new safety standards and best practices for all those who work in the industry and particularly in our own state,” he continued. “Those working behind the scenes to entertain and bring joy to millions all over the world shouldn’t go to set worrying if they will return home safely to their family.”

“Our entertainment industry must do a better job of ensuring safe working conditions for our hardworking crews. I intend to introduce legislation that would ban live ammunition on sets in California to prevent this type of senseless violence and loss of life,” the state senator added. “I offer my support in any way to the family of Ms. Halyna Hutchins during this time of tragic loss.”

Patterns emerge

The press release from Sen. Cortese noted a report from the local union on the set of Baldwin’s production which claimed that a single live round had mistakenly ended up in a handgun that the actor used while rehearsing a scene during which he negligently pulled the trigger, killing Hutchins and wounding Souza.

The release also cited a Los Angeles Times article which revealed that, prior to this fatal mishap, there had already been two or three other negligent discharges, as well as other significant issues, that had prompted a walk-out off the set by union workers just hours before the deadly incident.

There is an ongoing investigation at this time, and it remains unclear if the incident involved an actual live round of ammunition or a special “blank” cartridge, but that probe will likely focus on the pre-shooting activities of Baldwin, Assistant Director Dave Halls — who handed the actor the gun and declared it “cold” or unloaded — and the set’s armorer, Hannah Gutierrez Reed, who is responsible for ensuring all firearms are used safely.

Real vs. replica guns

There has been some confusion over the Hollywood terminology used to describe both real and “blank” ammunition — which is a cartridge with a half or quarter load of gunpowder without a bullet — as being “live” as well as “prop” guns that can be either real or a replica, according to The Wrap.

Regardless, at close range, “blank” rounds fired from a real weapon can be incredibly dangerous to others, as the gunpowder still explodes with superheated fiery gases, and the paper or wax wadding used instead of an actual bullet can still constitute a potentially deadly projectile.

Not waiting for any sort of legislative fix for the issue, The Hollywood Reporter revealed that ABC’s police drama The Rookie has already announced that all “live” ammunition and real weapons will be banned, with the production relying upon AirSoft replicas and computer-generated muzzle blasts for all future filming of the show.

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