Authentic Props Make For Authentic Tragedy


Elaina Freeman, Writer

The movie Rust gained a large amount of negative press when Halyna Hutchins was accidentally killed by Alec Baldwin on October 21st 2021.  The gun that killed her was going to be used as a prop in the upcoming movie.  For the past two years, Alec Baldwin has had charges against him for manslaughter. These charges have recently been dropped with the New York Times saying “The decision to drop the charges came after a review of new evidence that showed that the gun he was practicing with had been modified before it was delivered to the set, according to an official close to the investigation who was granted anonymity to discuss the case.” The New York Times article then goes on to say “Mr. Baldwin has always denied pulling the trigger, saying that the gun discharged after he pulled the hammer back and released it.” Since the charges against Alec Baldwin have now been dropped, the movie has decided to resume production and finish filming the movie. As cast and crew members return to the desert to finish this movie, Halyna Hutchins is still dead. 

Halyna Hutchin’s death could’ve been prevented. Halyna Hutchins arrived to work on Thursday October 21st 2021 completely unaware the day would be her last. Her life was taken from her as a real gun was fired on a film set. This destructive weapon was being used as a prop, even though the filmmakers were highly aware of the dangers that came with it.  

While authenticity is important, on-set safety should be the most important thing.  We should never compromise for the safety of employees. As a society, we should value the lives of our employees not be the ones putting them in danger. 

 As a country, we are defined by gun violence. According to ABC news this year alone, there have been 13,959 people killed from gun violence. To allow real guns to be used as props on a set, not only encourages gun violence but fuels the narrative that gun violence is acceptable. Honestly, it is extremely irresponsible and immoral to allow the use of real guns, despite knowing the tragedies caused by them every day. Guns aren’t props, they’re weapons, made with only one purpose, to kill!

Like many other instances of gun violence, this is not the first time something like this has happened.  Two notable incidents similar to this were in 1984 and 1993 when a “prop” gun was fired with a real bullet. In 1984, John- Erik Hexum accidentally shot himself while working on Cover Up. Then in 1993, Brandon Lee was killed while on the set for The Crow.  Both of these men believed that the guns they had been handed contained  “a blank”. “A blank” is defined by the Los Angeles Times as “Blanks are shell casings loaded with gunpowder. They lack the deadly bullet point, which is usually replaced with cotton or paper wadding. When blanks are discharged, they create the sound of gunfire, and the gunpowder combusts, causing a muzzle flash.” This means that if a blank is fired, someone can still die and be seriously injured.   

The movie Rust resumed production a little over three weeks ago on April 20th, 2023.  This time around real guns will not be allowed on the set. The film’s first Assistant Director Gerard DiNiardi is quoted telling the New York Times “There is nothing that fires. There are a lot of facsimiles of weapons, from rubber to replicas.” This decision is honestly the only decision that should ever be made.  If the film team had made this choice in the first place, Halyna Hutchins would still be alive. 

When we allow real guns on a set, accidents like what happened to Halyna Hutchins can happen. While these accidents are rare, that does not mean that they can’t ever happen. In fact when they do happen, the results are deadly. The only way to prevent these accidents from occurring is to ban the use of real guns on sets.   

 It should not have taken a tragedy for the film industry to realize that there is something wrong with allowing the use of real guns on sets. This is something that should never have been allowed to happen in the first place.  Employees should never have to fear for their lives because armorers  allowed real weapons to be used as props. While these weapons might be acting as props it does not change the fact they are still weapons.  Guns are used on sets to make the movie look more authentic. However, these events are authentically a tragedy.