With the tragic news that Alec Baldwin, whilst filming Rust, accidentally killed the director of photography Halyna Hutchins, in a tragic mishap, many are now wondering how it could have occurred.

Baldwin who was shooting in New Mexico, for his 19th century western flick, shockingly became involved in a fatal accident that has left the movie industry stunned. Baldwin, was apparently concerned at being give a gun with live ammunition, an incident that seems to have been confirmed when Metro reported that a union email said that the gun had live ammunition.

Despite tight regulations on the use of prop guns, with a prop master responsible for handling these, this is not the firm time such a tragic incident has occurred.

Way back in 1993, ‘The Crow’ star, son of Bruce Lee, Brandon Lee, had his life tragically cut short when a similar tragedy occurred on the set of the film.

Lee, who was 28, had been the recipient of a tragic error when the primers were not removed and a stuck bullet was dislodged by a blank round, killing the actor.

And now, despite the horror of losing a talent such as Lee, the film industry again mourns another tragic mistake in the same ilk. So how could it happen? Sarah Mayberry, in an article for The Conversation, said:

‘on set there is always an armourer, a safety officer, and a stunt coordinator: at least three people who always have an eye on the guns on set’. 

These comments, emphasising the safety procedures, further raise questions as to how this could have occurred, and how to ensure that it never happens again.

Why use a prop gun?

So, what exactly are prop guns? They are a firearm used in productions to replicate the use of a real weapon in a scene..whether it is for film, Tv, theatre, or re-enactments.

Despite their primary purpose being an ‘actor’ in it’s own right, prop guns look, feel, and can behave in a similar way to the real deal..in order to make them believable.

SAG-AFTRA has put safety to the fore, issuing strict regulations on how they can be used, with protocols for such things as gun handling, training, and required safety briefings.

Prop guns are not designed to be used for live ammunition. As ‘actors’ replicating an incident, they are used with blanks’, which are ‘bullets’ with the look and sound of a real bullet…but without discharging a projectile.

When are they used? As an ‘actor’ they are simulating violence in a way that makes the scene believable. As such, they are very similar in production as the real thing, with one notable exception…they don’t have a bullet in the head, instead using softer materials such as cotton, felt, paper and plastic.

How are they dangerous?

Since the prop gun has a blank, which still has many of the components of a real bullet, it is propelled from the weapon in a similar way to the ‘real deal’.

As such, even with no bullet at the head, there can still be safety concerns with gunpowder ignition, muzzle flash, and so forth. And, when you factor in an issue such as what occurred in the death of Brandon Lee, these ‘prop guns’ can never be taken lightly..hence why they are so tightly regulated.

Nowadays, CG effects can often create the same effect without the use of physical prop guns, so, many will feel that incidents such as this can, and should be avoided.

Author: Londonlad

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