Alec Baldwin claims that he’s blameless when he fired his pistol, which shot led to the shooting death of Halyna Hutchins and the wounding of Joel Souza on the set of his movie, Rust. He’s suing a number of movie production personnel in his effort to duck his own responsibility.
Baldwin’s claim is that the movie production team’s armorer, Hannah Gutierrez-Reed; assistant director, David Halls; an assistant armorer, Seth Kenney; and the team’s prop master, Sarah Zachry, are the only ones responsible for the shooting. Baldwin’s lawyer, Luke Nikas, enumerated what he claims is the fatal chain of events.
Gutierrez-Reed failed to check the bullets or the gun carefully, Halls failed to check the gun carefully and yet announced the gun was safe before handing it to Baldwin, and Zachry failed to disclose that Gutierrez-Reed had been acting recklessly off set.
Leave aside the irrelevance of Gutierrez-Reed’s alleged off-set behavior; that’s just smoke Nikas is blowing to distract from his larger, and utterly cynical, omission of the final link in the chain and the primary and proximate cause of the shooting.
Baldwin—any handler of a firearm, but especially the final handler, intending actually to use the firearm, whether in a real situation or in a movie scene—has a responsibility personally to check the firearm for its safety status, including—especially including—whether the firearm is loaded and, if so, with live rounds. The user doing that final check obviates all of the mistakes anyone earlier in the firearm’s chain of custody might have made.
It’s likely enough that one or more of the persons in Nikas’ abridged chain of events made their own safety check mistakes. That, though, does not at all absolve Baldwin of his own responsibility to do his own, personal, check of the pistol in his hand as soon as he accepted it.
He had the final responsibility, a Critical Item responsibility, to check his pistol as soon as he took possession of it. Baldwin chose to not exercise his responsibility.