Petition launched to ban real firearms on film sets after fatal ‘Rust’ shooting

Cinematographer Halyna Hutchins was killed during the accident on set

A petition has been launched to ban real firearms on film sets following the fatal shooting of a cinematographer on the set of Rust.

Halyna Hutchins was killed in an incident on set, in which Alec Baldwin fired a prop gun that he had been told was safe. Director Joel Souza was also injured.

Actor Xander Berkeley has now started a petition on change.org calling on the film industry to ban real guns on sets. “She shot three feature films prior to Rust, but this would have been the movie that would have put her on the Hollywood map as a talented, female cinematographer working with an A-list celebrity,” he said of Hutchins.

Berkeley continued: “We need to make sure that this avoidable tragedy never happens again.  There is no excuse for something like this to happen in the 21st century.

“Real guns are no longer needed on film production sets. This isn’t the early ’90s, when Brandon Lee was killed in the same manner. Change needs to happen before additional talented lives are lost.”

Rust cinematographer Halyna Hutchins dead fatal shooting prop gun Alec Baldwin
Halyna Hutchins photographed in 2019. Credit: Fred Hayes/Getty Images for SAGindie

The Terminator 2 actor also called on Baldwin to “use his power and influence” in Hollywood to “make change and ban real guns on film sets”.

At the time of writing, over 19,000 people have signed the petition, while the likes of Sarah Paulson, Olivia Wilde and Lena Dunham have shared it on social media. “It’s the 21st century & if we can make unreal worlds real through CGI, we can model the world we want to live in & ban needless firearms,” Dunham tweeted.

 

Other stars and showrunners have said special effects and CGI should be used to recreate gunshots in the wake of Hutchins’ death. “Cheaper in most cases to do the muzzle flash in post. I blame the “real is always better” mindset (which I also haven’t been immune to),” Knives Out director Rian Johnson wrote in response to one Twitter user.

 

Speaking with another, he added: “True regarding ways to do it via other means, but even as vfx: for a single frame, not that hard just with a little finesse and trickery. And if you’re shooting 24fps you’ve only got a roll of the dice chance with the real deal of capturing the real thing at all.”

“There’s no reason to have guns loaded with blanks or anything on set anymore,” said Mare Of Easttown’s Craig Zobel. “Should just be fully outlawed. There’s computers now. The gunshots on Mare of Easttown are all digital. You can probably tell, but who cares? It’s an unnecessary risk.”

He continued: “I concede live rounds have a role on set: I do think there are protocols to doing it safely, and I’ve had live rounds on sets for years. Always made me nervous, though. So this last project we didn’t. I think it took a level of anxiety away. We still used squibs, dust caps, etc.”

Following Hutchins’ death, Baldwin shared a statement on social media about the accident. The actor expressed his “shock and sadness regarding the tragic accident that took the life of Halyna Hutchins, a wife, mother, and deeply admired colleague of ours”.

“I’m fully cooperating with the police investigation to address how this tragedy occurred and I am in touch with her husband, offering my support to him and his family,” he wrote.

Production on the movie was halted indefinitely to comply with police investigations. No charges have been filed in the incident at the time of writing.

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