By Stewart Resmer
As you probably heard, a loaded gun on the movie set of Rust recently resulted in the death of someone during a rehearsal. Each passing day since the fatality brings more information about what led up to the incident, more details about the chain of custody of the antique (an operative period piece), and more background on the experience and qualifications of the armorer, prop master and assistant director – who apparently declared the firearm safe before handing it over to actor/co producer, Alec Baldwin, who reportedly fired the fatal shot.
As a chauffeur in Los Angeles, I drove Mr. Baldwin and members of his family on several occasions, and I always observed him to be of sober (albeit sometimes tense) frame of mind, and a world class professional, despite his busy schedule. Having directly witnessed Mr. Baldwin and his family’s coming and goings, when I learned of the tragedy, I was a little stunned at the carelessness on the set. These types of things should never happen, but unfortunately, they do – and have more once in the past couple decades.
As a former Marine, my training, discipline and experience compels me to approach every weapon as loaded – and more critically, to handle them accordingly by physically clearing every weapon being handled by me or anyone else on every set.
While the investigation is still ongoing and a full accounting of the incident has not yet been completed, serious considerations remain. Paramount in my mind is: How did an actual bullet allegedly wind up in a functioning firearm, that then ended up in the hands of an actor, who discharged that very real firearm during a rehearsal?
While these questions (and more) will hopefully be answered in due course, this most recent incident of a preventable, on-set fatality proves that an immediate response is necessary from regulators and the industry itself, by instituting reasonable gun safety protocols, the likes of which gun safety organizations have long advocated for.
There needs to be very specific rules that are strictly followed for reasonable gun safety – like restrictions on ammunition, the types and calibers of weapons on set, and whether they are real or replicas. The rules also need to specify who handles the weapons, and perhaps most importantly, everyone that handles them – including the actors – should actually be trained and certified, for their safety and for the safety of those around them. All of these things need to be considered to prevent another tragedy.
Stewart J. Resmer is a Marine Corp Veteran (Vietnam), who remains active in Veterans’ issues and has been a Democratic political activist in Presidential campaigns for Jerry Brown, Bill Clinton, and Joe Biden. He is a retired Los Angeles Chauffeur to the Stars. Currently, he is active in the Film industry, providing consultations on vehicle and motorcycle stunts and working on props, lighting and set design, often functioning as an assistant producer. He presently acts in TV commercials and as a movie extra.