On Thursday October 21st, Alec Baldwin was involved in an incident where a prop reportedly gun misfired with blanks.
This took place on set during filming for a western movie, Rust, in New Mexico.
The incident caused the death of the director of photography, Halyna Hutchins, and injured the director of the film, Joel Souza.
Mr Souza is currently being treated in the hospital for his injuries.
Many are now left wondering how such tragic consequences can be caused by a prop gun.
Here’s how a prop gun is and how firing it with blanks can still have serious effects.
What is a prop gun?
The term prop gun is used to describe any sort of firearm that is used as a prop for entertainment purposes.
This could be on the set of a film like Rust, in theatre productions, or a range of other uses.
Many people assume that prop guns are always non-functional tools that just look guns.
However, sometimes real guns are used, with the term meaning that they are only intended to be used as props.
Using a real gun adds authenticity to close-up shots, not just in how it looks, but also how the actor lifts and handles the weapon's weight.
When a real gun is used, there will always be a gun handler at hand to make sure it’s used properly.
This is because, even when loaded with blanks, a real gun can easily kill or injure someone.
What is a blank?
A blank, or blank cartridge, is a unit of ammunition that slots into the barrel of a gun with all the same components as a regular cartridge, only without the bullet.
That means it still contains the casing and the gunpowder.
When you fire a blank, the gunpowder ignites and the empty casing is ejected out of the weapons system from the chamber.
Despite not having a bullet, there is still a loud bang, a recoil, and a muzzle flash upon firing.
How can a prop gun kill someone?
The muzzle flash and ignition of the gunpowder are explosive enough to cause injury to someone if they are caught too close.
This is not the first time that prop guns have caused injury or even death on the set of movies and TV shows.
Usually in these cases, the person who fired the gun was not found to be at fault, as it’s often due to a faulty prop.
What does ‘cold gun’ mean?
In the case of the incident on the set of Rust, the police have revealed to the LA Times more details about the Alec Baldwin shooting.
Reportedly, Mr Baldwin was told that the weapon in question was a ‘cold gun’, which means it doesn’t have any live rounds in it.
Unfortunately, the gun did discharge, striking Ms Hutchins in her chest and Mr Souza in his right shoulder.
Mr Baldwin is reported to be speaking with detectives about the incident.
What was the role of assistant director on ‘Rust’, Dave Halls?
Dave Halls was the assistant director on ‘Rust’ and one of the last people to handle the prop gun on set.
Mr Halls reportedly shouted ‘cold gun’ to the cast and crew, to alert people to the presence of a weapon without live ammo.
The director has a history of being related to unsafe working conditions on set, including a failure to hold proper safety meetings and properly announcing the presence of a firearm on set while working on Hulu's ‘Into the Dark’ Anthology Series in February and May of 2019.
The parallels between the latter safety failing and the Alec Baldwin shooting are now being examined.