What do we know about the dynamics of the accident on the Alec Baldwin set

What do we know about the dynamics of the accident on the Alec Baldwin set

An in-depth analysis of how this could have happened with a blank gun. The fact that the weapon was loaded by Baldwin himself and not by the weapons master and that two people were affected. And the other cases in which the weapons on the set proved lethal

A photo posted a few days ago on Instagram by the director of photography Halyna Hutchins, victim of the accident on the set of Rust IPASocialIT / IPA It happened again. A film set that turns into a crime scene. Actor Alec Baldwin fired a prop, killing director of photography Halyna Hutchins and wounding director Joel Souza while filming the western film Rust on a ranch in New Mexico, USA.

Hutchins had posted videos of her and shots from the set on her Instagram profile. As well as Jensen Ackles, co-star of the film and known for playing Dean Winchester in the TV series Supernatural, which she captioned the photos 'a dream that comes true'.

Close to the tragedy, which occurred just before two in the afternoon local time, on 21 October, Alec Baldwin was heard by the Santa Fe County Sheriff and, for now, the investigation is open. CNN publishes a photo of the actor, born in 1958 in Amityville (upstate New York), alone in the parking lot of the police station. From the statements reported, it seems that Baldwin personally loaded the weapon (and not the master of arms, as is normally the case on set). Since the film is a western, it could be that it is a revolver, then a pistol that contains the cartridges in the drum. According to CNN Baldwin, at the time of the shooting, he was unloading the weapon, but nothing else is clarified, precisely because the investigation is ongoing. On Baldwin's Instagram profile, who, together with his wife Hilaria, has always been quite active from a social point of view, the last video, of the two youngest children, dates back to the previous day.

Alec Baldwin has a career of more than thirty years in cinema and in various roles he has been seen wielding weapons.

An analysis of the possible dynamics

When a firearm is unloaded, if it is a revolver, the firearm is opened in order to free the drum and extract the cartridges or, if fired, the shells being held in the cylinder. Normally the handling of a weapon, even on stage, follows the normal rules of the use of real weapons: if you do not shoot, you never keep your finger on the trigger, you never point the weapon, even unloaded, at others people . And most importantly, you don't pull the trigger. If by "unloading the weapon" we mean just that, pulling the trigger would be a rather bizarre event. Especially if, really, it was a revolver: firing would not speed up the unloading procedures of the weapon since the shells would be retained in the drum and, to remove them, it would still be necessary to open the weapon.

It makes one think that two people are affected. It may happen that a single bullet can affect several subjects, this is the so-called passing shot: it hits a target, crosses it and hits another. The only other explanation for hitting two people is having fired twice.

The prop weapons are loaded with blanks, but to produce the firing effect, the trigger is still there, what is missing is the gunpowder which, set on fire inside the cartridge case, thanks when triggered by the firing pin, it produces as an effect the propulsion of the end part of the cartridge, ogive or ball, that is the bullet which, after having crossed the barrel of the gun, comes out of the muzzle.

When the cartridge is loaded with blanks, the firing pin strikes the caseback but, since the gunpowder is missing, there is no explosion and, consequently, the bullet does not go anywhere, the cartridge remains intact. But this does not mean that the operation cannot be dangerous. In fact, the trigger contains a minimum charge and, when the bottom is struck by the firing pin, an explosion is produced which causes the release of some gases. If the weapon were kept in contact with a body, the effect could be lethal.

It happened, in 1984, on the set of the TV series Cover Up when the actor Jon-Erik Hexum, in his dressing room, played Russian roulette with a stage revolver, in caliber .44 Magnum, approaching his mouth of fire, the end of the gun barrel, to the temple and pulling the trigger. Despite being loaded with blank cartridges, the energy produced by the trigger was such as to cause damage which, in a few days, proved fatal. The explosive power of the blow produced injuries to the bones of the skull and Hexum, at the age of twenty-six, died six days later without ever regaining consciousness.

And never fully clarified was the death of Brandon Lee at the hands of another actor, Michael Massee, on the set of the film The Crow. Also in that case it was a revolver, a Smith & Wesson model 629, and always in .44 Magnum caliber loaded with blanks. Or at least that was what emerged from the investigation. According to investigators, in fact, Lee was hit by a fake bullet (usually plastic ammunition) left inside the barrel of the revolver from a previous scene. In that case it seems that the gases produced by the primer were sufficient to make the remaining bullet escape from the barrel with such power as to cause lethal damage. In fact, Brandon Lee was shot in the abdomen. Nobody immediately noticed the tragedy because the scene required that, after being hit, Brandon would remain on the ground. When the director gave the cut, Brandon didn't get up. The crew thought of a joke. In fact, Brandon was still alive, but he had lost consciousness and was breathing hard. At the time they thought that the actor had hit his head while falling, there was no reason to think that he had really been hit by a bullet and, above all, they said they saw no blood. Within minutes the situation got worse, Brandon had stopped breathing. He was transported to the hospital where he died a few hours later.

The investigation ended with an accusation of negligence against those who should have supervised the weapons on the set.

Following the accident on the set of Il Corvo, American regulations regarding the use of weapons on the set have become more stringent and usually require the presence of a master of arms to take care of security.

As for the tragic accident that occurred on Thursday on the set of Rust, all that remains is to wait for the results of the investigations.

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