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Alec Baldwin Interview Reinforces Hutchins’ Death As Involuntary Manslaughter

Alec Baldwin Interview Reinforces Hutchins’ Death As Involuntary Manslaughter

Interview hurt rather than helped Baldwin’s case on legal merits, but likely a political rather than legal ploy

Alec Baldwin recently gave a lengthy interview to George Stephanopoulos on the matter of Alec Baldwin’s fatal October 21 shooting of Halyna Hutchins, who was working as the cinematographer on the low-budget Western film “Rust,” on which Alec Baldwin was both the leading star and a producer. That interview aired the night of Thursday, December 2.

I’d written extensively on the legal implications around Alec Baldwin’s shooting of Halyna, particularly “Legal Analysis: Does Alec Baldwin Have Criminal Exposure After Shooting Woman Dead In Apparent Mistake?” the day after the shooting, and “Legal Analysis: Alec Baldwin Situation Beginning to Look a Lot Like Manslaughter” three days later.  My conclusion, as the latter title suggests, is that Alec Baldwin’s conduct appears to have met all the conditions for felony involuntary manslaughter under New Mexico law.

For the last two days I’ve been receiving endless inquiries about whether Alec Baldwin’s interview in any way changes that legal conclusion.  Having just had an opportunity to watch the interview a few minutes ago, this post is my response:

No, the interview did nothing to change my legal opinion.  Indeed, not only am I more convinced today than when I wrote my previous analysis that Alec Baldwin’s conduct qualifies as felony involuntary manslaughter under New Mexico law, his interview “testimony” only strengthened that view.

In other words, Alec Baldwin violated the first rule of finding that you’ve dug yourself into a hole—stop digging.

The Relevant Facts

It’s common in human events of a chaotic nature for there to be a great number of facts and claims swirling around that may be fascinating and interesting to contemplate, and that make great fodder for water-cooler and internet conversation and commentary, but that are also largely irrelevant to legal analysis.

That’s certainly the case in the shooting death of Ms. Hutchins by Alec Baldwin.

The only legally relevant facts to an analysis of whether Alec Baldwin appears to have committed felony involuntary manslaughter is whether he pointed a loaded gun at Ms. Hutchins, and that gun discharged and killed her without any intervening event between pointing and death that could relieve Alec Baldwin of legal responsibility.

Given that these facts are uncontested, even by Baldwin himself, and really appear incontestable under any circumstances, there can be little doubt that Alec Baldwin’s conduct in causing Ms. Hutchin’s death qualifies as felony involuntary manslaughter under New Mexico law.

That said, it’s always worth taking a look at the actual law, so we can see how the facts and law combine to lead us to this inevitable conclusion.

Intentional v. Recklessness v. Negligence v. Accident

Before we dive into the specifics of New Mexico law on felony involuntary manslaughter it’s always useful to do a quick review of the various mental states that might apply in a shooting event like this one.

Intentional

First, the shooting could be intentional, or as New Mexico law puts it, with malice.  I’ve no reason to believe that Alec Baldwin intended to shoot Ms. Hutchins, so I’ll not spend much time on this.  I will note, if such evidence were to develop we’d be looking at a crime premised on an intentional killing, meaning either murder or voluntary manslaughter.  The current known facts do not, however, support a charge of intentional killing.

Recklessness

Second, the shooting could be the result of recklessness on the part of Alec Baldwin.  Reckless conduct involves a person knowingly creating an unjustified risk of death or serious bodily injury, and intentionally ignoring that risk.

A classic example of such recklessness would be drunk driving, where the driver got himself intentionally intoxicated and then operated a motor vehicle. Everyone knows that driving a car while drunk creates an unjustified risk of death or serious bodily injury, and actually driving the car is deliberately ignoring that risk.  Accordingly, operating a motor vehicle while drunk qualifies as reckless conduct.  Reckless conduct is grounds for both criminal and civil liability for whatever harm results.

When a death results as a consequence of reckless conduct, the appropriate criminal charge is some form of involuntary manslaughter.  The killing was not intentional, so neither murder nor voluntary manslaughter would be appropriate charges.  The intentional creation and ignoring of the risk of death, however, with death resulting, is the traditional definition of involuntary manslaughter.

Negligence

Third, the shooting could be the result of mere negligence.  Negligence occurs when one violates the generalized legal duty to not cause unjustified harm or loss to others.  Unlike recklessness, negligence does not require that one knowingly create and ignore a risk, it merely requires that one should have been aware of the risk created when engaging in the conduct.  Negligent conduct is grounds for civil liability, but usually not criminal liability.  (If you see the phrase “criminal negligence,” you should read that as “recklessness.”)

Importantly, there are some instances of negligence that a state might recognize as being sufficiently inherently dangerous that it is treated as recklessness and therefore grounds for criminal liability—and we’ll see in a moment that New Mexico has precisely such a provision in the context of the negligent handling of firearms.

Accident

Fourth, there could be no liability whatever, either civil or criminal, if there was no legally relevant mental state—this can occur in cases of genuine accident, in which the person involved is believed to have literally no responsibility for either the action that caused the harm or for the resultant harm.

If, for example, a portion of the set had collapsed unexpectedly and unpredictably on top of Alec Baldwin, and while being crushed to the ground he had reflexively and involuntary clenched his hand and fired a fatal shot into Ms. Hutchins, his conduct and her death might fairly be characterized as a genuine accident.  Accident creates neither civil nor criminal liability and is a recognition that sometimes bad stuff just happens.

New Mexico Law on Involuntary Manslaughter

Interestingly, New Mexico law provides for two avenues by which Alec Baldwin’s conduct in shooting dead Ms. Hutchins can fairly be characterized as felony involuntary manslaughter.

First, one can apply the usual doctrine of involuntary manslaughter based on recklessness, as already described.

Second, New Mexico law recognizes the unique dangerousness of firearms, and although negligence is usually not grounds for criminal liability, New Mexico law holds that the negligent handling of a firearm that results in death will be treated as reckless conduct and be sufficient to qualify as involuntary manslaughter.

We find the relevant law in the New Mexico manslaughter statute,:

30-2-3. Manslaughter.

Manslaughter is the unlawful killing of a human being without malice.

B. Involuntary manslaughter consists of manslaughter committed in the commission of an unlawful act not amounting to felony, or in the commission of a lawful act which might produce death in an unlawful manner or without due caution and circumspection.

Involuntary Manslaughter Based on Recklessness

The second half of that statute sets out the reckless form of involuntary manslaughter:  “commission of a lawful act which might produce death … without due caution and circumspection.”  That’s the intentional creation of an unjustified risk of death and deliberately ignoring that created risk (“without due caution and circumspection”).

It has been established that Alec Baldwin pointed a firearm at Ms. Hutchins and shot her dead, presumably unintentionally—and, it naturally follows, that he did not first make the modest effort of ensuring that the gun was not loaded with live ammunition before engaging in this fatal conduct.

Guns are considered inherently dangerous instruments, because of the inherent dangers that result if they are used irresponsibly.  All adult Americans are reasonably presumed to know that guns are inherently dangerous and must be handled with exceptional care.

This would be particularly true of someone like Alec Baldwin, who has handled guns likely hundreds of times as an actor, and who is on the board of an organization seeking tighter controls on gun ownership precisely because of their dangerous nature.

All adult Americans are therefore presumed to know that pointing a loaded firearm at someone creates a risk of death or serious bodily injury to the person at the far end of the muzzle.

There are circumstances in which creating such a risk might be justified—as in self-defense, for example, where the risk to the life of the target is offset by the preservation of the life of the person holding the gun.  But there is nothing about being an actor on a set that outweighs a risk to the life of the person at which the gun is pointed.

Further, avoiding the creation of this unjustified risk to human life on a movie set would require no arduous or particularly time-consuming effort—the person holding the gun need merely take a moment to ensure that the gun is not, in fact, loaded with live ammunition.  If this is done, no loss of life can occur, because a gun confirmed in the moment to be unloaded is not magically capable of inflicting death.

From the moment the gun in this instance was placed in Alec Baldwin’s hand, there was only one person on the face of the Earth who was in a position to ensure that gun was not loaded with live ammunition before he pointed it at Ms. Hutchins with fatal effect—and that person was Alec Baldwin.

Indeed, Alec Baldwin was the only person on the face of the Earth uniquely positioned to negate any prior negligent or reckless preparation of that firearm in his hand.  Had members of the production crew taken the gun out to the desert for some recreational live fire and left a round in the gun, had the set armorer of very limited experience failed to keep the weapon adequate secured, had the Assistant Director who handed Baldwin a purportedly “cold” gun failed to actually confirm that unloaded status—all that is negated if Alec Baldwin merely takes a moment to personally confirm there is no live ammo in the gun before intentionally pointing it at Ms. Hutchins.

Note that the pointing of a gun without ensuring that it is unloaded fully qualifies as reckless conduct in and of itself, and requires no compounding conduct to achieve that status.  Nobody would accept having a loaded gun pointed at their head on the promise that the trigger would not be pressed, for example—including, I expect, Alec Baldwin himself.  As a result, whether Baldwin actually pressed the trigger or incidentally fired the gun by dropping the hammer is inconsequential to his reckless handling of the gun.  Merely pointing a loaded gun at another person creates an unjustified risk of deadly harm and the deliberate ignoring of that risk–and that is the very definition of recklessness.

On this law and the undisputed facts alone, then, we have everything required to conclude that Alec Baldwin’s shooting of Ms. Hutchins qualifies as involuntary manslaughter based on recklessness under New Mexico law.

As it happens, however, recklessness is not even required to find involuntary manslaughter in Alec Baldwin’s conduct—mere negligence is sufficient because the death was caused by firearm.

Involuntary Manslaughter Based on Mere Negligence

Usually, mere negligence is sufficient to create civil liability for damages, but not to create criminal liability.

There can, however, be exceptions to this general rule, particularly in circumstances where a state legislature finds such a degree of dangerousness that they will allow for mere negligence to be adequate grounds for criminal liability.

Recall that manslaughter based on recklessness requires the intentional creation and ignoring of an unjustified risk of death.  If those conditions are met, it matters not at all whether the underlying conduct is otherwise lawful or unlawful.

Manslaughter can also be found in the absence of recklessness, however, if the underlying conduct is actually unlawful in and of itself.  We find that provision here:

30-2-3. Manslaughter.

Manslaughter is the unlawful killing of a human being without malice.

B. Involuntary manslaughter consists of manslaughter committed in the commission of an unlawful act not amounting to felony, …

The portion of that language stating “not amounting to a felony” is intended to distinguish an unintentional killing that results from a misdemeanor—here defined as a form of involuntary manslaughter—from an intentional killing that results from a felony—which would probably be felony murder, a crime outside the scope of this discussion.

That provision of §30-2-3 tells us that even if Alec Baldwin’s conduct does not rise to the level of recklessness—and it does—it nevertheless still qualifies as involuntary manslaughter if it qualifies as an “unlawful act not amounting to a felony.”

And as it happens, negligently handling a firearm such as to endanger the safety of another qualifies as a misdemeanor under New Mexico law, under independent New Mexico statute:

30-7-4. Negligent use of a deadly weapon.

A. Negligent use of a deadly weapon consists of:

(3) endangering the safety of another by handling or using a firearm or other deadly weapon in a negligent manner; or

Whoever commits negligent use of a deadly weapon is guilty of a petty misdemeanor.

So, the question then becomes, does Alec Baldwin’s conduct qualify as “endangering the safety of another by handling or using a firearm in a negligent manner”?

And the answer is certainly yes—and we know that because of the outcome that resulted.

Had Ms. Hutchins not suffered harm, it might be an arguable question whether Baldwin’s conduct qualified as negligent.  That she suffered harm, however, settles the question definitively, based on the legal doctrine of res ipsa loquitur.

Literally translated from Latin, the phrase res ipsa loquitur would read as ‘the thing speaks for itself.”  As applied as a legal doctrine, it means that we infer that an act was negligent precisely because the feared harm actually occurred.

That is, the specific elements of negligence—that the harm resulted from the actor breaching a duty of care—are inferred if the conduct in question actually resulted in the harm caused.

Here, the very outcome of Ms. Hutchins death allows us to infer, under the doctrine of res ipsa loquitur, that Alec Baldwin’s conduct in causing that harm qualifies as negligent.

And given that the underlying question involved the handling of a firearm, we have the misdemeanor crime of negligent use of a firearm under § 30-7-4.

And given that the underlying conduct qualifies as “an unlawful act not arising to a felony,” we have established involuntary manslaughter under § 30-2-3 even in the absence of a showing of recklessness.

Alec Baldwin Keeps Digging in Interview

I mentioned at the start of this that Alec Baldwin’s interview by George Stephanopoulus violated the first rule of finding that you’ve dug yourself into a hole—stop digging.  I mean, of course, that not only did Alec Baldwin’s interview not help his legal position, it likely weakened one that already appears entirely untenable.

Baldwin Acknowledges Deadly Risks of Guns On Set

At one point in his interview, for example, Baldwin states that many millions of “bullets” are fired on the sets of films and TV shows, and only “four or five people were killed.”  I imagine he thinks that these favorable odds are helpful to his narrative that he has no criminal liability here.

In fact, it does the opposite.

First, the fact that all those other millions of times no death resulted, and now Alec Baldwin is among the outlier of “four or five people killed” suggests that his own conduct that resulted in the death of Ms. Hutchins was precisely the recklessness or negligence required for involuntary manslaughter here.

When everybody else engages in some conduct and nobody dies, and you engage in similar conduct and somebody dies, that doesn’t suggest that your conduct was safe and responsible.

Second, the fact that Baldwin is even aware that “four or five people were killed” in the handling of firearms on sets affirms that he was, in fact, aware of the risk of death involved in such conduct, and thus the need to be particularly vigilant about safety.

One doesn’t escape recklessness or negligence simply because the odds are ever in your favor.  Most drunk drivers don’t kill someone as they are swerving their way home—we nevertheless convict them of involuntary manslaughter when they do so, because they intentionally created the risks of death and ignored that risk.

Baldwin Was Aware of Both Safer and Less Safe Gun Protocols

At another point in his interview Alec Baldwin notes that in his movie career he’d sometimes had armorers and prop people who were extremely vigilant about firearms safety, and others that were less so.

Clearly, these two approaches are not similarly situated in terms of safety and risk to life.  A relatively new actor who might only have been exposed to relaxed safety standards might be forgiven for accepting that as some industry standard.  An experienced actor who had been exposed to both cannot be excused for not demanding the approach most consistent with safety and avoiding human death.

Baldwin Was Aware of “Responsibility to Not Be Reckless and Careless”

At yet another point in the interview, Alec Baldwin points out to Stephanopoulus that “everybody who makes movies has a responsibility not to be reckless and careless.”  Everybody.  In fairness, that remark was in the context of “not being “reckless and careless with the money that you’re given” to make the movie.  But if everybody has a responsibility to not be reckless and careless with even mere money, why would that degree of responsibility be any less in the context of human life?

Baldwin Violated His Own (Too Low) Standard of Actor Responsibility

At yet another point in the interview, right at the end, Alec Baldwin is asked what is the actor’s responsibility in this kind of gun handling situation.  His response:  “The actor’s responsibility is to do what the prop armorer tells them to do.”

First, I would argue that this standard does not excuse either negligence or recklessness when human life is at stake, and the actor is the final person in a position to break the chain of causation that will result in death, and can do so by merely taking a moment to ensure the weapon is not loaded with live rounds.

Second, even if that standard did excuse negligence or recklessness—Baldwin failed to meet his own stated standard.  He was not handed a gun by the prop armorer, and it was not the prop armorer who purportedly told him the gun was “cold.”  It was AD Hall.  The armorer was not, in fact, present.

The very fact that the roles of assistant director and prop armorer are assigned to two different people suggests that neither is competent to perform the duties of the other.

Baldwin opted to conduct himself in a manner that failed to rise to even his own too-low level of responsibility—handling the firearm in the manner the prop armorer told him would be safe—and his failure to do so does nothing to relieve his negligence and recklessness in this instance.

Does Political Upside Offset Legal Downside?

In conclusion, I see nothing in this interview by Alec Baldwin that does anything to improve his legal position on the legal merits, if anything it hurts his legal position on the legal merits.

That said, the legal merits are not the only factor at play here.  We must also consider political drivers that are certainly at play.  Unfortunately, political factors too often play a role in prosecutorial decision-making these days, and that is only more so when the matter involves a movie star of even moderate stature working in an industry with obvious political leanings.

Indeed, the more dire Alec Baldwin’s legal position on the merits, the more important are the political levers available to him.

It is entirely within the discretion of the local prosecutor in the Santa Fe area, where the shooting occurred, whether Alec Baldwin is charged with felony involuntary manslaughter and/or misdemeanor gun negligence, or neither.  Any just prosecution would require as a condition that legal merit exists—but here we certainly have legal merit.

Legal merit alone, however, does not compel a prosecutor to bring charges.  She may at her discretion simply choose not to—simply saying that her office has limited resources and she’s chosen to focus those resources on cases other than Alec Baldwin’s shooting Ms. Hutchins dead would be a perfectly typical application of such discretion.

If Alec Baldwin appears doomed on the legal merits, should he be charged—and, to my eye, he certainly does—then it is all the more important that he foster a political environment that will help discourage the local prosecutor from bringing charges in the first place.

Key to that would be to provide the prosecutor with the building blocks for a façade of reasonable application of typical prosecutorial discretion.  The prosecutor need not have a rock-solid reason to not bring charges, she need merely have some reason, however tenuous.

And perhaps that is the real strategy behind this interview.  If the legal position is already doomed on the merits, one is unlikely to suffer more substantive legal harm from the interview, however it goes.

If, on the other hand, the interview can foster a favorable political environment discouraging prosecution, then you might never have to fight the legal battle on the merits at all.  And that’s arguably even more of a win than would be an acquittal at trial (not that an acquittal at trial would be likely on these facts and law).

And that’s all I have for all of you at the moment.

Until tomorrow morning:

Remember

You carry a gun so you’re hard to kill.

Know the law so you’re hard to convict.

Stay safe!

–Andrew

Attorney Andrew F. Branca
Law of Self Defense LLC

Nothing in this content constitutes legal advice. Nothing in this content establishes an attorney-client relationship, nor confidentiality. If you are in immediate need of legal advice, retain a licensed, competent attorney in the relevant jurisdiction.

 

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Comments

Boy, if this was any of us, would involuntary manslaughter be our conviction? would it even be our charge?

    Milhouse in reply to Kreemerz. | December 4, 2021 at 11:07 pm

    Yes, it would. Why do you suppose it wouldn’t?

      Arminius in reply to Milhouse. | December 6, 2021 at 1:47 am

      For the simple reason pointing the gun and cocking the hammer, letting it drop, even if that’s all Baldwin did, are intentional acts. Then he claims he didn’t pull the trigger or, more likely, have his finger on the trigger already depressed. I have a hard time believing that as the Italian copies of the Colt 1973 single action have (or at least can be had) with transfer bar safeties.

      If you’re not familiar with the original Colt it the firing pin is the front face of the hammer. It simply passes through a hole in the frame and impacts the primer of the cartridge, setting if off. Even a blow to the back of the hammer can set off a cartridge if there’s one under the hammer. This is why the “cowboy load” was to only load 5 rounds and put the hammer down on an empty cylinder. It’s the only safe way to carry an original Colt or some of the replicas that operate exactly the same way.

      This is what an original Colt 1873 SAA revolver hammer looks like; note the firing pin is actually part of the hammer.

      http://www.peacemakerspecialists.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/08/hammer1.png

      By contrast this is what the hammer on a single action revolver with a transfer bar safety looks like (Ruger Blackhawk in this case):

      https://picturearchive.gunauction.com/681/8163080/c804_1.JPG

      Note the flat face of the front of hammer; the firing pin is built into the frame, with a firing pin spring to hold it away from the primer unless the revolver is intentionally fired. Note how the top portion of the hammer protrudes forward of the flat face of the main portion of the hammer.

      If what Baldwin claims is true, that he didn’t pull (or already have his finger on) the trigger there is no way it could have fired. Because if he just dropped the hammer with his finger off the trigger the top portion of the hammer will impact the frame but the main flat of hammer can’t touch the firing pin.

      Unless the trigger is pulled or already held back. When the trigger is pulled all the way back a transmission bar attached to the trigger raises a flat piece of metal up in its track over the firing pin, and only with that mechanism between the hammer and firing pin can the hammer transfer the impact (hence transfer bar) from the hammer to the firing pin.

      I think it’s significant to note the Santa Fe New Mexico Sheriff felt it necessary to make a public statement after Baldwin went on Stephanopoulos to absolve himself, saying he didn’t pull the trigger, and to in effect blame the cinematographer that he killed because she was telling him how he should hold the gun for the shot he wanted.

      Here’s what the Sheriff said, short and sweet:

      https://www.lawenforcementtoday.com/baldwin-claims-he-didnt-pull-the-trigger-but-sheriff-says-nice-try/

      “Guns don’t just go off. So whatever needs to happen to manipulate the firearm, he did that and it was in his hands.”

      Note the wording in the link at Law Enforcement Today. “Baldwin claims he didn’t pull the trigger but sheriff says nice try.” The site is maintained by a 20 year veteran in law enforcement. He understands perfectly what the Sheriff is saying. I was never a gun slinger but I did handle firearms regularly when I was in the Navy. More than the average Sailor. I understand perfectly what he’s saying.

      “You’re full of s***, Baldwin.”

      If what Baldwin claims happened were an actual possibility, and it is if it is an actual clone of an original 1873 Colt Single Action Army, that Sheriff would have kept his mouth shut. As the article notes the handgun is currently at the FBI lab where they are testing it to see if they can repeat the malfunction that Baldwin claims happened to him. But I’d say that at this point they’re dotting their “i” and crossing their “t”s so if Baldwin is charged they can blow his BS defense out of the water.

      Do you really believe the Santa Fe County Sheriff doesn’t already know whether or not the revolver Baldwin was mishandling had a transfer bar safety? Nobody whose been around firearms for more than an hour even if only to make movies needs the FBI crime lab to tell them the difference. Once you compare the two systems you can tell them apart at a glance for the rest of your life. Or, since they’ve been gathering evidence on a freaking movie set (gee, what kind of work do they do on movie sets that might produce evidence?) whether or not they already know if Baldwin had his finger on the trigger?

      Before I continue I should point out that I believe these Pietta Colt replicas didn’t always have transfer bar safeties and it may well be that it’s still possible to purchase them without the safety. I’m told that collectors prefer them as close to the original as possible, but for the life of me I can’t understand why a collector would want an Italian replica of the actual collectible firearm. But I also don’t know why anyone would want one for any other purpose without the safety. Particularly as a prop gun on a movie set in an industry where novices who’ve never handled firearms, or are scared of firearms, or who don’t like firearms and like Baldwin are working with gun banning groups to make them illegal or at least as hard to get as possible. And there’s a push to use non-guns or CGI to replace all actual guns on movie/TV sets. It’s a huge issue in the entertainment issue, and Baldwin wasn’t aware of it? I’ll also note that other commenters have raised the same issue because frankly it’s an obvious issue. If that Italian Colt Replica had a transfer bar safety then there’s no way what Baldwin claims happened could ever happen.

      In any case I haven’t seen any Colt SAA replicas without transfer bar safeties for years but I’ll admit those aren’t really where my interest lies. My single action revolvers, all Rugers, which I use for hunting and they all have transfer bar safeties.

      So let’s add this up. Baldwin consciously did three deliberate things. He didn’t check the revolver to see if it was loaded. He pointed it at someone deliberately. And he admits he cocked and let the hammer drop on a chamber that because of deliberate act #1 we know was not empty. I’m convinced he pulled the trigger for the reasons I explained, and my conviction is bolstered by the fact the Sheriff investigating this killing and wounding felt compelled to call BS on Baldwin’s excuse making.

      Then there’s the fact Baldwin is a notorious hot head. We have plenty of evidence for this. For instance, there’s the recorded call he made to his daughter during a custody dispute with Kim Basinger in which he called her a “rude, thoughtless little pig.” The guy was completely out of control, and who talks to their 11 y.o. daughter like that?

      He’s been arrested multiple time for being belligerent, he’s been kicked off of at least one airline flight for being rude, obnoxious, belligerent a-hole, and he had an MSNBC show until he flew into a towering rage and called a reporter a “c*cks*cking little f*g,” which got him cancelled. As far as I can tell he’s only been convicted of harassment, the simple assault charge being dropped in the plea, for punching some guy out on the sidewalk outside his NYC apartment. Since the dispute was over a parking space this can reasonably be classified as a road rage incident. And he agreed to go to anger management class.

      I don’t think anyone who followed the Kyle Rittenhouse case with that kind of track record we as Joe Sixpack would be overcharged and that charge would be murder. They tried to paint Rittenhouse as “out to kill” simply because he plays video games. Here’s a guy with a pretty long arrest record and one actual conviction who did a court-ordered anger management course. I can also tell you that given his explosive temper Baldwin’s lawyers better not let him within a mile of the witness stand. Because if the prosecutor wants to put Baldwin away for murder and he gets this guy on the stand in his own defense the prosecutor will treat him with contempt, sneer at him, show him all kinds of disrespect. And Baldwin doesn’t have the self-control Rittenhouse has.

      This guy already went on TV and stated he feels no guilt whatsoever. He claims he didn’t pull the trigger but unless the FBI crime lab can repeat some sort of malfunction and it has the transfer bar safety then he’s lying. Or if they video/stills that show he drew the firearm with his finger on the trigger he’s lying. And given his temper they might be able to make the case the cinematographer did something to anger him and in a fit of pique and since he had a firearm in his hand he shot her deliberately. This happens all the time. For instance former police officer, firearms and self-defense instructor, and certified expert witness Massad Ayoob has written several books on the subject. Unlike Andrew and Massad Ayoob I don’t make a habit of attending trials (but if I got paid as much as Massad Ayoob or made Andrew’s consulting fees I’d do so) so I have to follow their reports of events. I believe it was in his second book, “In The Gravest Extreme: The Role of the Firearm in Personal Protection,” he wrote about a case that I still remember decades later. He was an expert witness in a self-defense case. The man charged actually had an extremely strong case. His daughter’s boyfriend was at the house and started getting violent; he told the boyfriend to leave and the boyfriend smashed the coffee table to bits like Chris Farley falling on it in an SNL skit. So the gentleman who was getting up in years retrieved a hand gun, didn’t point it at him, and again told him to leave. He pretended to start to leave but as he reached the front door he turned and charged in a full blown attack. Then the guy raised the handgun and fired, killing the boyfriend.

      If he could stick to the truth then he’d beat the charges. His daughter really knew how to pick ’em (if I recall correctly) as he was a convicted violent felon. The guy was destroying property inside the house, and then tried to attack the gent in his own home. But the guy like Baldwin had a temper. He also wasn’t the sharpest knife in the drawer. But for some reason they put the defendant on the stand anyway. And the prosecutor really started getting under the defendant’s skin. Everybody in the court room could see the defendant was getting angry. So finally the prosecutor points at him and in a booming voice says, “You shot a man over a coffee table!” And the defendant angrily blurts out, “You’re goddam right I shot him because of the table. You don’t come into my house and break my table.”

      There went self-defense out the window. Hello 2nd degree murder. The thing was the prosecutor knew the guy didn’t shoot his daughter’s boyfriend over a coffee table. The prosecutor just didn’t care. He wanted the win.

      If it were me, you, or any other commenter her that’s exactly what a lot of prosecutors would do. Again, exhibits A and B are Kenosha county ADAs Binger and Kraus.

      One final point What if Baldwin actually did do this on purpose? He’s after all a producer of this flick. I’m sure he’s under a lot of stress because things do sound like they were falling apart. The producer is responsible for logistics and business operations, including hiring cast and crew and arranging financing (and often is an investor in their own right) and bringing in the film on time and under budget. And this movie really was having issues.

      https://www.msn.com/en-us/tv/news/rust-crew-walked-off-set-prior-to-fatal-shooting-in-protest-of-poor-on-set-safety-reports/ar-AAPQqGL

      “‘Rust’ Crew Walked Off Set Prior to Fatal Shooting in Protest of ‘Poor On-Set Safety’: Reports”

      What if noted hot head Alec Baldwin just snapped and intentionally pointed the cocked revolver at cinematographer Halyna Hutchins and pulled the trigger? After all, if this report is true these two were having friction.

      “Additionally, the Los Angeles Times reports that one crew member who was on the set claimed that Hutchins had been advocating for safer conditions for her team.”

      Everybody keeps saying that “nobody believes” Alec Baldwin intended to kill Halyna Hutchins, but why is it entirely beyond the realm of possibility that just for a second he was tired of her crap? None of us are investigating this crime (and even if it isn’t anything more than negligence I’m convinced by Andrew Branca’s analysis it’s still a crime). There is a possibility the investigators have developed evidence that this could be more than negligence or recklessness.

        RandomCrank in reply to Arminius. | December 6, 2021 at 12:17 pm

        Superb comment!

        Even if the Pietta replica was a version without a transfer bar, the only way Baldwin’s claim can be true is if the gun was defective. And there’s no question that he pulled the hammer back; he said so in the interview. I cannot imagine that the douchebag’s lawyers did anything but BEG him to keep his mouth shut.

    lichau in reply to Kreemerz. | December 5, 2021 at 8:12 am

    “It is a big club and you ain’t in it”.

    dunce1239 in reply to Kreemerz. | December 6, 2021 at 9:27 am

    He is choosing to ignore the fifth amendment and provide the DA with probable cause to file charges.

If stupid was illegal, the fool Baldwin would be doing life without parole. Somehow this single action revolver had a live cartridge loaded, the hammer cocked pointed at a person, and was discharged. I don’t believe that the trigger was not pulled, but, more than a couple of firearm handling rules were broken. Baldwin should be making little rocks out of big ones.

    JohnSmith100 in reply to Romey. | December 4, 2021 at 8:19 pm

    It sounds to me like someone was going to die that day, who and when did the script call for that shot to hit? Was someone else meant to die?

      Give me back my tinfoil tiara. Right now. You do not wear it well. Hee!

      henrybowman in reply to JohnSmith100. | December 4, 2021 at 9:18 pm

      Not having the script, we can only speculate.
      They were “blocking” the scene, which means testing camera angles and lighting.
      The people Baldwin shot were standing near the camera. So we might presume the scene called for Baldwin to shoot in the direction of the camera (at which time there would be no actual persons in that area, which is how this is done); otherwise, it makes no sense for him to be testing the lighting while posed in a position other than what would be in the scene.
      So our best guess at the answer would be that no one would have died in that scene, though he might have damaged some expensive equipment.

        LibraryGryffon in reply to henrybowman. | December 4, 2021 at 10:55 pm

        What I’ve read so far was that the scene did not actually involve shooting at anyone or anything. But take that with the grain of salt it deserves.

    MarkS in reply to Romey. | December 5, 2021 at 8:30 am

    as to what Alec described, the trigger would have to be pull for the hammer to pass the safety latch

Seemed to me he was taking a hypothetical situation and making it why he wasn’t negligible. Saw a video maybe a week ago how a single action replica could fire without the trigger pull, but doubt that was the same case of the hammer down but struck causing a bullet to be fired.

It seems clear to me that this interview was designed to give the prosecutor cover to NOT charge Baldwin. We all know as one of the Important People, he simply doesn’t have to obey the same laws that we do.

That’s the only thing I can think of.

Because if he actually DOES get charged, I literally can’t even comprehend how devastating the video of him saying he ‘feels no guilt’ would be to a jury.

    Elzorro in reply to Olinser. | December 5, 2021 at 6:43 am

    I visited Santa Fe years ago. From what I could see it has to be The Woke Capital of the World.
    Baldwin will be immune from prosecution there. They might put the gun on trial but not a woke hero.

I listened to the interview on the radio and thought that he made it much more difficult for himself to be acquitted by a jury if there is a trial. The only way I can say this is that he went from an Ass to an Asshole with the interview.

Andrew, does the fact that the type of gun Baldwin described in the interview will only discharge if the hammer has been pulled back alter your analysis?

Wouldn’t cocking the weapon be a clear indicator of intent?

    Colonel Travis in reply to Ex-Oligarch. | December 4, 2021 at 9:47 pm

    There is nothing to indicate he willfully, deliberately intended to kill anyone. That’s where intent matters under NM law.

    henrybowman in reply to Ex-Oligarch. | December 4, 2021 at 9:51 pm

    Bottom line: Baldwin violated gun safety rule #1, which is: always keep a gun pointed in a safe direction. Cocked, uncocked, untriggered, inspected, or uninspected, it doesn’t matter. ALWAYS. Until you’re ready to SHOOT something or somebody. You don’t get out of the most basic (three-hour) NRA gun course without memorizing the first three rules and demonstrating you can do it.*

    Is it possible that the gun was in bad repair such that once the hammer was pulled back, it could release itself? Yes, this is true of any gun. Guns are mechanical, and mechanisms (and safeties) can wear and/or break. That is why the first rule is the first rule.

    In the old days (from where the Rust gun design hails), the firing pin was an integral part of the hammer, meaning that if the hammer was at rest, dropping the gun on the hammer could set off the loaded round without trigger involvement. That’s why cowboys never loaded more than five rounds in their six-shooters, to keep the chamber under the hammer empty. That’s also why they never cocked their guns until they were ready to send lead downrange. This style mechanism is considered “unsafe” today; other than for “historical authenticity,” no modern gun uses it.

    Since those days, firearms manufacturers have invented trigger-activated “hammer blocks” and “transfer bars” that ensure no matter what the hammer chooses to do, the gun cannot fire unless the trigger is also activated.

    Designers attempting to add these devices to “replica” Colts for safety purposes discovered that it wasn’t possible to do without changing the visible appearance of the original Colt. But more recently, workarounds have been found — the Uberti (Italy) replica uses a clever adaptation of the Glock firing pin and safety that solves all the authenticity problems. If I were an armorer, I’d be looking at using these replicas.

    Unfortunately, the production chose to go with the Pietta (Italy) replica, which is just a carbon copy of the original Colt mechanism. And if it indeed had a faulty sear, it could have released the hammer with no trigger involvement, and then Bob’s Your Angel.

    So is the scenario claimed by Baldwin possible? Yes, and an examination of the gun can easily prove or disprove it.

    Does it mitigate his responsibility? Hell, no. He violated basic safety rules. End of story.

    * * *
    *But Alec Baldwin was a Director at an Everytown For Gun Safety subsidiary, and Everytown believes in “common-sense gun laws.” “Common-sense” is left-speak for “My untutored intuition is worth more than the opinions of those of you who have actually done the homework.” Baldwin would sooner eat a scorpion pie than take an NRA gun course.

    And now that we have seen the downside of relying on “common-sense gun handling,” we are treated in this interview to the result of the actor exercising his own “common-sense legal counsel.”

      Ben Kent in reply to henrybowman. | December 4, 2021 at 10:26 pm

      SOMETHING SMELLS FISHY

      Henry is right. I question why it was necessary to actually point the gun at a person when he was supposedly just demonstrating the cocking mechanism to the director. Couldn’t he have easily done the same demonstration while pointing the muzzle to the ground or, at the very least away from someone’s head.

        henrybowman in reply to Ben Kent. | December 4, 2021 at 10:59 pm

        In the interview, of which I was just now able to find excerpts, he says his victim was telling him how to stand and how to move his drawing hand, over and over, in order to get the lighting right. Then he says, “I pulled the hammer as far back as I could without cocking the actual gun… [asking her if this is what she wanted to see]… then I let go of the hammer and BANG.”

        Pardon my French, but

        What!
        An!
        Asshole!

        This is like saying, “I pulled the crossbow string as far back as I could without actually putting it in the trigger latch… then I let go of the string, and WHOOSH!”

        He acts like he actually believes that holding the hammer manually under spring tension is actually safer than fully cocking it and letting the mechanism hold it from falling.

        Yes, there is a half-cock position that is supposed to prevent a released hammer from landing. But it’s not foolproof. In fact, it’s a primary failure mode. From Wikipedia:

        In practice, the half-cock notch was often prone to breakage when used as an early safety mechanism, whereby the tumbler would have part of the metal around the slot shear away, thereby removing the fragile safety mechanism, and permitting the hammer to fall and the firearm to fire. This could occur from accidentally dropping the loaded firearm onto its half-cocked hammer even once.

        Baldwin is quite frankly dumbfuck ignorant of firearms, and should never have been handed anything more lethal than a Pop-Tart.

          Flatworm in reply to henrybowman. | December 5, 2021 at 9:55 am

          In addition to the half-cock, the Pietta also has a quarter-cock detent, which would also have to have been sheared off, an extraordinarily unlikely double failure. In the alternative, the engagement surface on the trigger itself would have to be broken, which would have been obvious when anyone went to load it, which requires a functioning half-cock.

          So his story remains implausible in the extreme. I think he concocted this story of pulling back the hammer because he didn’t know about the half-cock and quarter-cock sears.

          tom_swift in reply to henrybowman. | December 9, 2021 at 10:59 pm

          In practice, the half-cock notch was often prone to breakage when used as an early safety mechanism, whereby the tumbler would have part of the metal around the slot shear away, thereby removing the fragile safety mechanism, and permitting the hammer to fall and the firearm to fire. This could occur from accidentally dropping the loaded firearm onto its half-cocked hammer even once.

          This refers to damaged guns, not the SAA as it comes out of the factory. But modern steels are not so prone to damage as their 1880s ancestors. The metallurgy of steel wasn’t well understood until about the turn of the century, and the SAA was modified in 1896 with a new frame capable of handling those newfangled smokeless powders. Both Pietta and Uberti use adequate quality modern steels.

      alaskabob in reply to henrybowman. | December 5, 2021 at 12:22 pm

      Linking Baldwin with “common sense” is hopeless. Interesting aside…. during the cap and ball era of handguns, Colt and Remington cut recesses into the cylinders between the nipples so that the hammer could rest in a safe slot. Caps were far more sensitive to detonation as fulminant of mercury was not as tightly packaged. In one case, the cap was removed but enough of the fulminant residue was left on the nipple…. outcome same as Baldwin… the “safe” gun had trigger pulled and the “shooter” killed his brother.

      I’ll have to look at the Uberti version of the Colt… I have a cap and ball Navy from Uberti….

      RandomCrank in reply to henrybowman. | December 5, 2021 at 4:13 pm

      Please check the link to the manual for the Pietta replica shot by Baldwin. In particular, page 8. That gun has a transfer bar. Seems to me that, in his ABC “News” interview, Baldwin claimed that the gun fired because he released the hammer, but that the manual directly contradicts that claim. What have I have missed or misunderstood? I have NO ego on this; if I am incorrect, I want to know.

      https://www.cimarron-firearms.com/Manuals-Forms/PDFs/Pietta-1873-SA-ALL.pdf

      I own 6 revolvers, including 2 single actions. Even without a transfer bar, I think Baldwin’s claim is far-fetched because the half-cock position would require the operator to fully cock and pull the trigger. I think a transfer bar would make it impossible to have a triggerless fire even if the hammer is released before a half-cock.

      Again: How am I wrong? I honestly and genuinely would welcome being corrected.

        henrybowman in reply to RandomCrank. | December 5, 2021 at 5:05 pm

        The figures on page 37 give a pretty good explanation to the novice of how a transfer bar works… except that they are drawn in a way that makes it hard to distinguish which is the bar and which is the space around the bar without studying them really carefully, then it makes a lot more sense.

        The warning on page 35 mumbles something about the gun becoming damaged and unsafe if the trigger is worked at half-cock. I’d like to know more about that syndrome, in case it has bearing on Baldwin’s claim.

          RandomCrank in reply to henrybowman. | December 5, 2021 at 11:07 pm

          The warnings on manual pages 35, 36, and 37 (which don’t match the PDF pagination) are distracting and murky, but when I re-read them along with the rest of the relevant material in the manual, the result seemed clear: That gun has a transfer bar that prevents it from firing unless the trigger is pulled.

          tom_swift in reply to henrybowman. | December 9, 2021 at 11:09 pm

          The warning on page 35 mumbles something about the gun becoming damaged and unsafe if the trigger is worked at half-cock

          “If the trigger is worked at half-cock” sounds like a clumsy multilingual way to say, “don’t try to fire the gun from the half-cock position”. Which is sound advice.

        alaskabob in reply to RandomCrank. | December 5, 2021 at 8:22 pm

        That manual starts out with diagrams of the old style firing pin integral to the hammer and later shows a version with the transfer bar with both illustrations on page 43. Both versions are available from what has been noted. I have a Uberti 45 Colt replica with fixed old style firing pin. Ruger Vaqueros have a transfer bar.

        Years ago there was a law suit against Ruger involved a yo-yo playing with a Bearcat 22 who shot himself. The early Rugers didn’t have the transfer bar. He won the case which resulted in Ruger providing a conversion kit to replace with transfer bar and flat hammer.

        As I noted, on my Uberti, pulling the hammer back to just before half-cock notch doesn’t produce enough force to ignite the primer. It has the classic C-O-L-T clicks on full cocking. However, to take out of half cock requires pulling the hammer back enough with the trigger pulled to disengage and that does have enough spring power to potentially ignite a primer if let go. Remember, pistol primers have softer cups since they don’t have the spring power of a rifle firing pin… and so are easier to ignite. Depending on how compressed the primer was seated in the cartridge has a big effect on what is needed to ignite the primer. All to say…. mishandling any firearm is dangerous and I doubt Baldwin could have jarred the hammer against a primer to ignite it with hammer down and no finger on a trigger.

          alaskabob in reply to alaskabob. | December 5, 2021 at 8:23 pm

          Correction … page 34.

          alaskabob in reply to alaskabob. | December 5, 2021 at 8:33 pm

          Read flatworm’s note above. I was talking about quarter cock above as he pointed out. Half cock is further needed to free and rotate the cylinder to empty and load the chambers. Both cocks then need the hammer pulled back and trigger pulled to lower the hammer and both releases have enough power to ignite a primer. With quarter cock one could load all 6 chambers and have the hammer out of battery.

          RandomCrank in reply to alaskabob. | December 6, 2021 at 10:40 am

          It’s a challenge for me because my SAs are not the antique Colt or a Pietta replica. I became interested in the details right away, and reviewed all of my revolvers to make sure I knew everything about how they are operated. I included all of them: a DAO Ruger LCR in .357, a Dan Wesson 715 DA in .357, a Colt Police Positive DA in .32, a Taurus 942 DA in .22WMR, a North American Arms SA and a Heritage Rough Rider, both with swappable .22LR and .22WMR cylinders.

          I did this because a) I’m no gunsmith and b) It would be hard to overstate how important it is to me to be factually correct. I do my damndest to avoid making shit up and to know what the hell I’m talking about. I spent the most time with the Rough Rider, and as a result I now know that gun better than I did before.

          My gut feel is that, for the purpose of analyzing what Baldwin did, the Rough Rider is a good proxy. You cannot “hammer fire” or trigger fire it from half-cock. Once you get to half cock, it will not hammer fire. At that point, it’s trigger-fire — and only if fully cocked. This is why I conclude that Baldwin’s claim to have hammer-fired the Pietta replica is a lie, these SAs being physically impossible to fire in the manner Baldwin described.

          That said, I don’t have the Pietta replica and therefore cannot be absolutely certain. I’d feel the most comfortable if I actually had the Pietta and could work it, but I found the manual for the replica and believe that the Rough Rider is a good proxy. As a substitute final check I have solicited educated opinions here, and continue to be open to correction.

          RandomCrank in reply to alaskabob. | December 6, 2021 at 11:16 am

          On further reflection, I think Baldwin’s story is true only if the sear is defective AND that particular Pietta is a version without a transfer bar. Possible but quite unlikely in my view. And easy to verify by inspection. If, as I strongly suspect, the gun is in good working order and Baldwin was winging it in that “unscripted” (ha ha!) interview, he cooked his goose on TV.

          I’m no lawyer, so maybe I’m wrong about the following. The ABC interview is admissible evidence, and if an inspection shows the gun has a transfer bar or a working sear, or both, Baldwin’s lie will be evidence not just of his story being impossible but of a guilty mind. I have thought that this would be a civil case only, but if (as appears likely) he lied about how he operated the gun he put himself in major criminal jeopardy.

          Why would he be so stupid? The answer starts with his behavior since the event — the tweets, the papparazzi setups. Watch me be flat wrong, but I have a hard time thinking that his lawyers have been doing anything other than BEGGING him to STFU. The ABC interview showed a man with an unbounded ego. Not one bit hard to imagine a guy who thinks he knows more than everyone else.

          So it comes down to inspecting the gun, and then to the authorities in New Mexico, a notoriously corrupt state. If they want him, I think they’ve got him. Do they want him? That’s the big question.

        tom_swift in reply to RandomCrank. | December 9, 2021 at 11:21 pm

        That gun has a transfer bar.

        How so? There have been several design iterations of the Pietta product, ranging from a close copy of (I think) the 1896 variant of the basic 1873, through a weird half-assed safety lock mechanism, and finally a fairly modern transfer bar action. Lacking good photos (or personal examination) there’s no telling which type Baldwin was fiddling with.

        I can’t see how any variant could work the way he describes. Even dropping the hammer from something just short of half-cock shouldn’t impact the primer on any of them.

Nope, he had to cock the single action gun before he pulled the trigger. There was nothing involuntary in those two actions.

    alaskabob in reply to Tsquared. | December 4, 2021 at 8:53 pm

    The handgun is a Colt replica from Pietta. I gather the full on Peacemaker style with firing pin integral to the hammer. As one pulls back the hammer the half cock is quickly met which was a safety measure to prevent ignition if thumb slipped. In all, as one pulls back the hammer 4 discrete clicks are heard… which in the old days “spelled” out C..O..L..T. Hard to miss the clicks. The “six shooter” was really a five shooter as one only lowered the hammer on an empty chamber. No matter how he spins it.. he is lowering the hammer on a live round prior to cylinder rotation or after and anyway all of this requires pulling the trigger.

      RandomCrank in reply to alaskabob. | December 5, 2021 at 4:25 pm

      See my response to henrybowman above. Yes, the half-cock position makes it quite unlikely that Baldwin could have fired by releasing the hammer before the gun was half cocked. The inclusion of a transfer bar makes it impossible to fire that gun from ANY hammer position without pulling the trigger.

      If I am correct and haven’t overlooked a “gotcha,” Baldwin lied when he claimed to not have pulled the trigger. If that’s correct and he did lie, then it would call into question everything else he has said. If I am wrong, someone PLEASE contradict me.

        texansamurai in reply to RandomCrank. | December 5, 2021 at 7:58 pm

        agree–have fired a peacemaker many times (belonged to one of my uncles) but never owned one–have owned a couple of rugers–blackhawk & superblackhawk–both single-action–was years ago now but as remember the ONLY way could move the hammer from either half cock/full cock/ready position was by squeezing the trigger–believe this is true of any single-action

        alaskabob in reply to RandomCrank. | December 6, 2021 at 11:55 am

        The trigger has to be full pulled and kept there to have the transfer bar in firing position. The minute the finger is off the trigger, the transfer bar is disengaged. You are right.

So when is an indictment gonna be handed down?

Baldwin’s homicide happened on October 21, 44 days ago.

If I had to guess I’d say that the prosecutors out there in New Mexico are in the running for a Profiles in Putty award.

    henrybowman in reply to pfg. | December 4, 2021 at 9:56 pm

    CSI: Miami wrapped stuff up in an hour.
    CSI: Santa Fe is more like a Star Wars franchise. It could be 20 years.

    The Friendly Grizzly in reply to pfg. | December 4, 2021 at 10:17 pm

    They have a lot to consider. One of the main things is the money they’re making off of permits, and the indirect tax revenue they get from local caterers and local crew the phone companies are using when they’re on location in New Mexico.

      I’d say the movie is likely done whether they are finished filming or not…(I had originally put shooting, but I thought that unintentional pun was in poor taste)

      Any leftist woketard group that would boycott future NM film settings just for choosing to prosecute legitimate gun crimes is a blatant picture of hypocrisy. In short, I hope they do it.

        The Friendly Grizzly in reply to healthguyfsu. | December 5, 2021 at 5:40 am

        I meant in general, not just Rust. The California filming scene is so crazy expensive for permits and union antics that NM, TX, and other places have a lot of filming going on at any given time.

        I meant film not phone.

    Sian in reply to pfg. | December 5, 2021 at 1:10 am

    They will not issue an indictment unless the public outrage overwhelms their sense of obligation to Hollywood.
    If Indicted, Alec will surely face prison time.

Subotai Bahadur | December 4, 2021 at 9:50 pm

It does and will for the foreseeable future come down to the legal doctrine of the Invulnerability of Leftist Celebrities to Consequences. The law is clear, the result however does not relate to the law.

Subotai Bahadur

And just for the ultimate irony, look at the orientation of Baldwin’s hand.

If the left had any standards to hold to they’d be willing to sacrifice another “privileged white male” to the altar of wokeness for furthering the cause.

They’ve been largely silent, which once again shows that all of their moral outrage, grandstanding, and twitter hot take hollering is just about political convenience and nothing else.

I am absolutely floored by his dismissal of George Clooney’s criticism.

“Your protocol is you check the gun every time? Well, good for you. Good for you.”

See? It’s not a globally standard safety rule — it’s just a matter of preference, like how you take your coffee.

No, let’s follow your favorite protocol instead.
The one that results in dead crewpeople.

You asshole.

    tom_swift in reply to henrybowman. | December 9, 2021 at 11:30 pm

    What exactly would he be checking?

    In normal day-to-day life, we do a visual check to see that there are no cartridges in the chamber, part-way through the mechanism, or in the magazine. It’s a simple case of cartridges present or not.

    But what of dummies? Movie guns have dummies all over the place. Visual inspection can’t easily distinguish between a gun loaded with live ammo vs. dummies or snap caps. Snap caps aren’t too hard to someone who knows what to look for, but the dummies I load myself require a pretty careful look to identify. Someone used to the gun could do it easily enough, but the average shmoe, not so much.

    Of course a prudent person would do whatever is necessary to check. But it’s too easy to pile on with an airy “check the gun every time” and expect it to stick with people who aren’t gun cranks.

In my Criminal Psyh. Class in college, they claimed that VIP would get off on jury trails in most cases except for cases where they used their position or looks to get out of it. Sound like if Alex goes to trail, he is going to be hosed.

Would Baldwin have double-checked the gun if the direction was for him to put the barrel in his mouth and pull the trigger?

The Friendly Grizzly | December 5, 2021 at 3:30 am

If I were in Baldwin‘s position, I don’t think they’d be granting interviews of any kind. Did he clear the city review through his attorneys, and if so and they said yes, what justification is there for doing this? He’s leaving himself so wide open. I’m not a lawyer, so maybe someone can fill me in.

    Louis K. Bonham in reply to The Friendly Grizzly. | December 5, 2021 at 12:12 pm

    The ancients Greeks understood the concept of “Hubris attracts Nemesis.” Here, Baldwin’s arrogance looks to be his undoing, as it is making things much, much worse.

    No minimally competent attorney would advise Baldwin to give that interview; indeed, Baldwin says he was giving it against his attorneys’ advice.

    Only justification I can see is that unless they know that the criminal case is so hopeless that the only move is to go totally gonzo in an attempt to create pressure on the DA not to indict. But that is a suicide squeeze strategy that is highly unlikely to work (indeed, it has now probably created pressure on the DA *to* indict).

    It also destroys Baldwin in the civil cases. His total lack of remorse and refusal to accept any responsibility means a jury is likely going to award punitive damages at whatever maximum NM law allows. And anything he does now to start “arranging” his assets will almost certainly be avoidable as a fraudulent transfer.

    Pass the popcorn.

      RandomCrank in reply to Louis K. Bonham. | December 6, 2021 at 1:39 pm

      If you want to pressure the D.A. in a case like this one, wouldn’t you do that quietly behind the scenes? In the abstract, it seems to me that going public would be counter-productive to the max.

    As has been so well illustrated by Benjamin Crump, to get anything done nowadays (including anything in court) one has to get out in front of The Narrative and steer it in some useful direction. In 21st century America it doesn’t matter so much if you’re wrong or right; the important thing is who thinks you’re wrong or right. So if Baldwin’s legal situation is perilous, The Narrative could still let him come out ahead.

Victor Immature | December 5, 2021 at 6:06 am

Doesn’t pass the smell test. He’s suprememly arrogant, notoriously reckless, tantrum-prone and difficult to work with. Remember that phone message to his daughter? The original director on 30 Rock says he threatened him with violence for having the audacity to ask for another take on a few occasions. He left the show largely due to stress from working with him.

This sounds like CYA, repeating “Do you see this? Do you see this? Do you see this?” Sounds like something he could’ve been yelling in a threatening manner. If a witness testifies to that, he can now say “Well, yes, i’ve already said i said that”

In the book “The Sociopath Next Door”, the author says the one reliable sign of a sociopath is when they’re cornered and have no excuses or alibis left they resort to the pity-play. And he’s on TV doing just that, crying on cue, just like Smollet.

And he says he doesn’t feel guilty?? He released the hammer w a gun in his hand pointed at someone and KILLED them…what kind of person would not feel guilty ? And that shit about killing himself…typical pseudo-liberal bullshit…Oh PLEASE don’t move to Mars, Cher. Please don’t harm yourself, Alec…we can’t live without your grandiose “art”.

I’m wondering if Baldwin is setting the stage for an insanity defense. His attorneys must understand that what he did cannot be successfully defended. But he is a famous person with a broad fan base and a good actor. Maybe the only hope for avoiding a lengthy prison sentence at his age is to plea not guilty by reason of insanity. His life is already ruined as it is but dodging the prison part would be preferable.

    It’s not going to be an insanity defense. The case, if any, will hinge on the question of what constitutes an ordinary and reasonable degree of caution in that context: the universal and fundamental rules of firearm safety as taught virtually without variation from the NRA to the US Army to the Boy Scouts, or Hollywood’s own home-grown protocols that absolve actors of any responsibility?

      Baldwin has a long history of being emotionally unstable so it’s not out of the question that he might be staging these weepy drama queen interviews to demonstrate his instability. Is he not consulting with his attorneys? They’re okay with this? Maybe. Just speckelating.

I would like to know if the camera was recording when Baldwin fired the shot? I think that Baldwin’s burned out brain wasn’t working when he fired the shot and he actually pulled the trigger.

Richard Aubrey | December 5, 2021 at 8:26 pm

GIven that Baldwin is a jerk and passed over a number of generally-accepted rules.
Anybody trying to find out why a gun used in a movie has a genuine, designed-to-kill, actual, no-fake real BULLET in it?

    henrybowman in reply to Richard Aubrey. | December 5, 2021 at 9:52 pm

    My spidey sense has told me from day one that the presence of the live round was a parting FU from one of the union armorers who had been kicked off the production property that very morning. I could never square it with the fact that the remaining armorers didn’t catch it. But with the revelation that the gun was picked up off the table by a non-armorer and handed to Baldwin, it becomes more plausible. If there are no fingerprints on the casing of the fatal round, that will pretty much cinch it.

      alaskabob in reply to henrybowman. | December 6, 2021 at 11:49 am

      Logical…and what one would expect of a union guy. Even so, having live ammo of the same cartridge on set is more than dumb. It’s asking for it. Considering the decades of filming with few episodes ..and those preventable, the safety record is good. Baldwin made the enterprise sloppy to cut costs.

        tom_swift in reply to alaskabob. | December 9, 2021 at 11:47 pm

        Having live ammo of the same cartridge on set is more than dumb.

        Even if the studio doesn’t have any lying around, it’s not a hard cartridge to find. Just about anybody could buy a boxful downtown. A saboteur shouldn’t have much trouble planting a live one.

James B. Shearer | December 5, 2021 at 11:01 pm

“… not that an acquittal at trial would be likely on these facts and law ..”

I doubt he will be charged and if charged I doubt he will be convicted. The case comes down to is it reasonable for an actor making a movie to trust other people to keep guns safe. It seems to me that it is.

That said it was foolish to give an interview. And I am ignoring any legal exposure from his role as producer.

    Louis K. Bonham in reply to James B. Shearer. | December 6, 2021 at 12:33 pm

    Nope. As Andrew B. points out, under NM law, anything to do with a firearm counts as ultrahazardous activity, in which *any* sort of negligence means you are guilty of involuntary manslaughter if your negligence results in someone else’s death. There’s no “except if you’re an actor on a film set” exception.

    And indeed, I have not seen any opinions from ANYONE in the movie business who says that Baldwin’s actions were anything but contrary to all sorts of industry safety protocols and procedures.

    He accepted the gun from the AD (not the armorer) — fail.

    He did not to check if it was loaded (and if so, that the loads were not live ammo) — fail

    He did not dry fire the gun into the ground to confirm it wasn’t loaded — fail

    He pointed the gun at a person (where you have to point it at the camera to get that angle, they get the camera set and the cameraman then views the image remotely) — fail

    And apparently the script didn’t even call for him to cock or fire it in that scene anyway — fail

    Unless the political fix is in, he will be indicted and convicted.

      James B. Shearer in reply to Louis K. Bonham. | December 6, 2021 at 11:46 pm

      “… There’s no “except if you’re an actor on a film set” exception.”

      I expect a jury will see it differently if it comes to that.

if he is not charged, how does that square with his civil liability viz a “wrongful death” suit from the deceased? will he literally walk away from this thing scot free?

    Louis K. Bonham in reply to texansamurai. | December 6, 2021 at 12:39 pm

    Nope. It’s not a self-defense case, where a finding of legitimate self defense in a criminal case might provide some protection from civil liability.

    IMO, he is cooked for breakfast on the civil suits, some of which have apparently already been filed.

    The civil suits will likely be stayed while the criminal case shakes out — anything you say in a civil case IS admissible against you in a criminal case. If you assert the Fifth in a civil case, that CAN be used against you in the civil case (and usually is fatal to your defense). For that reason, courts usually stay the civil suits to avoid putting the defendant to such a Hobbsean choice..

meant “from the deceased’s family”

They will probably let him plea to negligent handling of a firearm and do a short jail sentence, and he will contribute 10 million to the prosecutor’s reelection campaign.

I’ve made lots of comments. Hopefully, this will be my last long one. I decided to do a direct check with my single-action Heritage Rough Rider, which like the Colt 1873 Peacemaker and the Piatta replica fired by Baldwin has four hammer positions: on the round, quarter-cock, half-cock, and full cock. I just took my gun to my pistol range to check, and I think the result definitively proves that he’s lying. That said, if I missed something I am open to correction. Honest: no ego.

Let’s imagine that the Pietta revolver is a version that didn’t have a transfer bar. We’ll find out for sure, because it’s being inspected by the FBI. If it does, and the transfer bar is in working order, Baldwin is toast. This is what I think will happen, but let’s imagine no transfer bar for a minute.

Baldwin said he pulled the hammer back and released it, causing the gun to fire without pulling the trigger. Believe it or not, I’ve actively searched for ways that his claim can be true. Baldwin’s gun was not thrown or jostled. He claimed that his release of the hammer caused it to travel forward, resulting in the firing pin hitting the primer and causing the discharge. Is that possible? The answer is “No,” unless the gun’s sears were defective. To explain it, I have to get down into the weeds. There is no other way to answer the question.

As I’ve noted, both the 1873 Colt Peacemaker and the Pietta replica have four hammer positons: On the primer, quarter-cocked, half-cocked, and full-cocked. Once pulled back to quarter, half, or full cocked, it cannot be be fired by simply releasing the hammer. The cocking detents won’t allow it. You can work the hammer/firing pin from quarter-cock only by pulling the trigger. When I did this, as expected the hammer/firing pin didn’t achieve enough velocity to cause the primer to ignite.

My SA will not fire from half-cocked even by pulling the trigger. The Pietta manual says that it’s possible to trigger-fire from half-cocked, but it would require very heavy pressure and could damage the trigger. But Baldwin said he never pulled the trigger; if he’d done so from half-cock, there’s no way he wouldn’t have remembered. If others on set had fired it from half-cocked and damaged the sear, the quarter-cock detent would have stopped the hammer before the firing pin reached the primer. I know, because I tried.

Thus the only way to “hammer fire” without pulling the trigger would be if BOTH the half- AND quarter-cock detents were damaged. This is theoretically possible but highly unlikely. If that’s the case, the FBI inspection will reveal it. What’s much, much likelier is that Baldwin pulled back to full-cock and pulled the trigger. Once a revolver is fully cocked, it takes hardly any trigger pressure to fire it. Baldwin might not recall pulling the trigger, or might not want to recall that. Instead, he made a claim that’s so unlikely that it’s fair to label it “impossible,” but if the inspection shows that both detents were gone then I’ll have to eat my words.

Finally, something else argues very strongly against Baldwin’s version. If the half-cock detent was gone, the gun would’ve been impossible to load. A single action Peacemaker, or the replica, requires that half-cock works, or it cannot be loaded. You load those by half-cocking, opening the loading gate, and inserting the rounds one by one. There is no other way to load it. Sorry for such a long explanation, but this is definitive. I cannot imagine that Baldwin has told the truth. It simply doesn’t square with the physical realities. Alec Baldwin did the equivalent of tell George Stephanopolous that, yes, pigs do fly, and that he made it happen. George and ABC “News” are too stupid, lazy, and — maybe — too biased and compromised to have done the work on this.

—–

Past that, I watched the ABC interview again. The only genuine tearing up was when he gushed about doing a movie with Meryl Streep. All the rest struck me as phony. I think he’s a classic Hollywood weirdo. And none too smart. I recall Alfred Hitchcock’s comparison of actors and cattle. The guy is used to people kissing his ass, and that interview was one more example.

Either he’s too stupid to know how the revolver works, or he knows full well how it works and fired on purpose. For now, I choose Door #1 unless evidence for Door #2 emerges. One thing seems crystal clear: He pulled the trigger. He had to, or the gun wouldn’t have fired. He lied about “hammer fire” out of hubris, desperation, or both.

You can bet that the local sheriff knows more than George, and so do millions of Bubbas with revolvers.

    Flatworm in reply to RandomCrank. | December 6, 2021 at 4:41 pm

    I think your technical analysis is spot-on. As for the reason behind the lie, I’d guess he’s in denial. He basically pointed a loaded gun at someone he considered a friend, cocked it, and pulled the trigger. Now she’s dead. Admitting that would be difficult for anyone. It would take a serious helping of humility and an uncompromising commitment to the truth. Alec Baldwin is simply not that man.

      RandomCrank in reply to Flatworm. | December 6, 2021 at 5:31 pm

      I am a former professional journalist. Old school, as in “Never assume anything,” “If your mother tells you she loves you, check it out,” “Facts first, next, and last,” “Keep your opinions to yourself.” It’s in that vein that I dove into the deep end. Helps that I’m a gun owner and know what I’m talking about. But I still check, re-check, and re-re-check, quite obsessively — especially if I have a viewpoint. Confirmation bias is human nature, and it takes willpower and integrity to keep it in check.

      I think I’ve gotten it right, and thanks for recognizing that. Even now, after much work and thought, if I’m in error, I want to know. Mistakes are embarrassing, but what really matters is what comes next.

      It’s a dicey proposition to infer motives. I’ve made some guesses, but that’s all they are. My legal knowledge is thin, and I hope I haven’t implied otherwise. That said, if that gun has a working transfer bar, it’s case closed on Baldwin’s claim. Open and shut, I’d say. Even if it’s the version without a transfer bar, I cannot see how his story is true. I await the FBI’s examination; I strongly doubt that Quantico will shade anything.

      This will be up to the local DA, and I hope she’ll do her job.

    texansamurai in reply to RandomCrank. | December 6, 2021 at 5:21 pm

    excellent analysis–one thing you said earlier though got me to thinking–you said that a single action COULD be fired with the hammer in the 2nd/3rd detent position–haven’t dealt with a single-action in a while, but is that really possible?–without touching the hammer, could one actually exert enough force with the trigger finger alone to overcome the mechanism and release the hammer?–flat don’t remember and am asking you if is actually possible–if not, would seem to indicate that baldwin indeed came all the way back with the hammer(battery)and then squeezed the trigger

      RandomCrank in reply to texansamurai. | December 6, 2021 at 5:46 pm

      My Rough Rider cannot be successfully trigger fired from anything other than the fully-cocked position. The Pietta manual says it’s possible to trigger-fire from half-cocked, but it takes such a strong pull that it could wipe out the detent. If the gun is jostled or dropped it can “hammer fire” from half-cocked, but it’s rare. And irrelevant in this case, because the gun was not dropped or jostled.

      Therefore, for Baldwin’s claim to be true, that gun has to be seriously damaged to the point where it could not be loaded through the loading gate. You’d have to remove the cylinder, load it, and re-mount it. Not only ridiculously awkward, but it would expose the fact of serious damage that could not have escaped even the most casual attention.

      Weirdly enough, the more convinced I became that Baldwin lied, the harder I’ve tried to construct a scenario that would square with his claim. Thus far, I haven’t been able to do it. We shall see. Life is full of surprises, but I doubt that one of them will wind up being that his account is truthful.

I have a few single-action revolvers. Whether with or without the transfer bar, I agree with those who don’t see much chance of an accidental discharge from cocking the hammer unless the trigger is pulled. Having a transfer bar is the safest arrangement, although, I would be inclined to doubt that the revolver involved in this incident had a transfer bar. Folks who buy replicas want weapons that look and operate like the originals.

However, when I have taken friends to the range who have no shooting experience, the way they handle guns is often laughable. In one case, a female friend was holding the grip with both hands, her finger unintentionally depressing the trigger, and started cocking the hammer with her opposite thumb at the same time. One would only do this deliberately if you were “fanning” the hammer for rapid firing with the trigger continuously depressed (a la countless westerns). Is it possible Baldwin cocked the hammer while he inadvertently had the trigger depressed from simply holding the gun improperly? One would have hoped that he has more experience handling firearms on set, but he is a total anti-gun nut, with no doubt little in the way of experience or good instinctive safety habits concerning handling firearms.

    RandomCrank in reply to Rand. | December 6, 2021 at 5:51 pm

    If he did the “fanning” trick, his claim to have not pulled the trigger is a lie. He was adamant on that point. No ambiguity. No one who “fans” the hammer would forget that he did so with the trigger depressed — not even a new shooter, which Baldwin made quite clear that he is not. He made a point of saying that he’s often handled guns on set. So that was NOT a new shooter’s error.

It turns out it isn’t only the Santa Fe County Sheriff who was prompted to go public after Alec Baldwin’s insanely stupid interview with George Stephanopolous.

https://deadline.com/2021/12/alec-baldwin-criminal-charges-tv-interview-backlash-cops-district-attorney-halnya-hutchins-1234884549/

“Alec Baldwin TV Sit-Down On ‘Rust’ Shooting Prompts D.A. To Warn “Criminally Culpable” Option Still Possible”

To be honest, I’ve gotten disturbingly mixed messages from this DA. In one TV interview she said that they (Sheriff’s and DA’s offices both) that they know who loaded the revolver. But then she said that they know, “Alec Baldwin didn’t know it was loaded.”

As many have noted Alec Baldwin is apparently trying to hang the armorer out to dry. Really shift the blame to anyone other than himself. In the context of the interview transcript that I read it seemed the DA was going along with that effort. Despite the fact that not knowing whether or not the firearm is loaded and then treating it as if it isn’t loaded is the very definition of reckless behavior. In any case Baldwin has publicly state he has been told it is highly unlikely he’ll be charged.

https://deadline.com/2021/12/alec-baldwin-rust-shooting-abc-news-1234883945/

“‘I have been told by people who are in the know, in terms of even inside the state, that it’s highly unlikely that I would be charged with anything criminally,’ the actor said.”

Ironically, the fact that while this DA might have been looking for a way not to charge Baldwin, the fact that Baldwin is shooting his mouth off publicly may paint her into a corner where she feels compelled to charge him.

Back to the first article:

“The remarks by Carmack-Altwies were not altogether unexpected as Deadline has heard from a number of New Mexico sources that Santa Fe law enforcement were very unhappy with Baldwin once again speaking to media.

“Interviewed immediately after the shooting and subsequently by the Sheriff’s Office, the Emmy winner has been asked to not comment on the shooting beyond condolences as the police’s investigation continues – requests Baldwin has acknowledged, but is clearly ignoring as he lays out his version of what went down that terrible day.

One source told us the department felt “betrayed after all the consideration given to Baldwin in the aftermath of the shooting.” Another law enforcement source said that “Baldwin is testing the department’s patience and becoming a distraction to the ongoing investigation.”

I honestly don’t have a clue what Baldwin is trying to accomplish here. I understand from Andrew Branca’s analysis what he may think he’s trying to accomplish.

“If Alec Baldwin appears doomed on the legal merits, should he be charged—and, to my eye, he certainly does—then it is all the more important that he foster a political environment that will help discourage the local prosecutor from bringing charges in the first place.

Key to that would be to provide the prosecutor with the building blocks for a façade of reasonable application of typical prosecutorial discretion. The prosecutor need not have a rock-solid reason to not bring charges, she need merely have some reason, however tenuous.

And perhaps that is the real strategy behind this interview. If the legal position is already doomed on the merits, one is unlikely to suffer more substantive legal harm from the interview, however it goes.

If, on the other hand, the interview can foster a favorable political environment discouraging prosecution, then you might never have to fight the legal battle on the merits at all.

This is counterproductive no matter how you look at it. He’s clearly not taking advice from his attorneys, who must still be tearing their hair out over this debacle. If the prosecutor decides to charge him criminally then based on the facts he’s doomed. Now, based on his own words he’s cemented that doom.

He’s clearly not listening to New Mexico law enforcement who told him not to comment on the case other than offer condolences. Going on TV saying he feels no guilt is the opposite of offering condolences, one, and then shooting his mouth off, giving his version of events, is the opposite of not commenting on the case, two.

I don’t know about the rest of you, but if I had just killed someone and I knew I had no legal defense and the only chance I had was to foster a political environment where the DA felt she didn’t have to charge me, I wouldn’t be shooting my mouth off and double-dog dare her to charge him. I would be taking law enforcement’s advice and shutting up. He’s pouring gasoline on the fire.

And if I didn’t want to get sued into oblivion I wouldn’t be arrogantly making statements about safety on the set that directly contradict the requirements of the Screen Actors’ Guild/American Federation of Television and Radio Artists. The requirements set down by the Union and the complete lack of standards on the “Rust” set and Baldwin’s later public comments are staggering since they are too numerous to count.

https://www.sagaftra.org/files/safety_bulletins_amptp_part_1_9_3_0.pdf

Employees who were union members walked off the set, remember, and Baldwin had to replace them with non-union workers.

Baldwin’s post-shooting behavior has been so bizarre and self-destructive, but so in keeping with his track record as someone who has for years demonstrated an explosive temper, narcissism, and poor impulse control that I can’t completely discount the fact that what he did on the set might have been intentional. Not that he had planned ahead of time to kill Halnya Hutchins. Just that she said the wrong thing to him at the wrong time and set him off. And there might be some evidence for this.

I don’t claim to have any insider knowledge. But he has threatened to “f*ck you up” over twitter before, for instance.

I was simply pointing out that the hammer can be pulled back and released, firing the gun, so long as the trigger is depressed. The seers are all disengaged at that point. That’s simply why fanning the hammer works for rapid firing. But I expect that if this is what happened to Baldwin, it was nothing like fanning the hammer, but rather would have been more like the awkward handling of the gun with the trigger depressed unaware of what he was doing. Like I said, I saw it happen with my own eyes with an inexperienced shooter. I was right next to her, practically cheek-to-jowl, instructing her, so I spotted the issue almost immediately and intervened. But if she had managed to pull the hammer back all the way and let it go, then BANG. Admittedly, you would have to be a complete clueless novice for such a thing to happen, but I really don’t know much about Baldwin’s level of knowledge of firearms handling.

I’m assuming there is no video of the incident. That would sure help clear things up.

    RandomCrank in reply to Rand. | December 7, 2021 at 11:57 am

    My responses are in no way intended to be hostile or defensive. I asked for close scrutiny and alternatives. For me, it’s really a truth-seeking enterprise. So if I counter this or that explanation, I’m not doing so with an ego-defending motive. Believe it or not, I often enjoy being successfully contradicted. Being proven incorrect is an indispensible learning tool.

    From everything I can deduce, this simply couldn’t have happened unless he pulled the trigger. I can easily imagine Baldwin not remembering that he did that or blocking it out of his mind. I like to operate my DAs in single-action mode for the improved accuracy, but there’s a trade-off: Once you cock a revolver, it has a very light trigger. It’s why I go SA with my DAs, but
    I have learned through embarrassing experience how easy it is to unintentonally fire a cocked revolver.

    It has always made me feel stupid, and I don’t like that feeling. I can joke about my various dumbass moves in life, but not when they involve guns. Thank God for those “four commandments” of gun safety! Each important, but especially valuable for the redundancy. So when I’ve mistakenly fired a cocked revolver, pointing discpline saved the day. Not so with Killer Baldwin, who I think compounded his fatal mistake by concocting his lie — a lie that has changed my mind with respect to his criminal culpability.

    If he’d copped to pulling the trigger, or even if he’d said that he doesn’t remember doing so but that he must have done so, I could say, “There but by the grace of God go I.” When he flatly lied about it, any sympathy that I might felt went out the window. It’s a character test. We are human and we WILL get it wrong, hopefully without a lethal outcome. The real queston is what comes next.

    One my very most cherished principles is this: “File your god damn complaints in front of the mirror.” Baldwin has pointed the finger exclusively at others, and it would be hard for me to overstate how much I detest and disrespect that. Baldwin is a worthless piece of shit for that, and belongs in prison. In fact, the vehemence of that reaction is one reason why I have so actively searched for a less damning explanation. I really don’t want to condemn anyone in terms so vivid and final, but I smply cannot see an alternative.

    “Feathering” is interesting. I’ve never done it, and maybe I will sometime. Yet, for the obvious reason that it requires a trigger pull, it’s inconsistent with Baldwin’s claim. As described, no one who “feathers” a revolver’s hammer can truthfully claim not to have pulled the trigger.

I sure agree with you about the accidental early discharge problem if you’re not careful. I have a big 44 magnum Super Blackhawk that I use for long-range metal silhouette shooting out to a maximum of 200 yards. It’s really challenging, so I lightened the trigger pull on it trying to improve my accuracy. So, now it’s really touchy, all it takes is a twitch of the finger. On a couple of occasions, I have shot into the air before even bringing it down on the target.

I agree with you about Baldwin being stupid getting hung up on the issue of pulling the trigger or not. But that’s really for general public consumption. Any of us who handle firearms frequently would never even let it get to that point. I mean, it’s like: I didn’t check if it was loaded, I pointed it at somebody, I cocked the hammer, but it’s not my fault, cause I didn’t pull the trigger. Talk about throwing caution to the wind.

Yet, I’m trying to put aside my feelings about this arrogant nasty left-wing dumb-ass. I really appreciate how Andrew Branca does a good job of maintaining objectivity and sticking to the law and the facts. So, I’m not rooting for Baldwin’s downfall, but I’m also not going to shed a tear if he gets prosecuted and convicted either.

    RandomCrank in reply to Rand. | December 9, 2021 at 12:01 pm

    Prior to the ABC show, I could imagine him not being criminally culpable based on the assistant director’s “cold gun” assurance. To me, those cheesy, transparent lies about how he fired it amount to straw that broke the camel’s back.

    One other thing has occurred to me. As I write, there are 75 million to 95 million gun owners in this country, based on my prior research. We posses about 450 million firearms. The majority of “gun owners” are casual at best: grandpa’s old shotgun in the attic. But there are close to 20 million concealed permit holders, not including the permitess carry states. All of which is to say that the good old U.S.A. is the last place on earth to go on national television and tell the lies he told.

    And yeah, my two or three unintended SA discharges were really embarrassing. The moron in the mirror got himself a stern lecture, you can count on that.

taurus the judge | December 9, 2021 at 12:52 pm

Gonna comment and establish a baseline because even though the claims made by Baldwin are highly suspect in the extreme (and I don’t believe him frankly)- the only physical exponent in the equation is the firearm in question.

This is where my commentary comes in as I am going to comment as if I were the states (or defense) Expert witness on Engineering and Design and including firearms designs.

First, we need to know the gun in terms of its history (purchase date, SN specific characteristics since there could be discreet changes during model manufacture).

Second, we need to know the maintenance/usage history (should be available as this is a property gun). This should give an indicator of rounds fired, parts replaced and so forth.

Third, IF there has been any modifications to the gun (any modifications from OEM or either any “special effects’ modifications)

This is necessary to determine if the OEM safety and mechanical integrity standards are in effect which could be a critical determining factor.

At that point, the physical weapon needs to be inspected to see where it sits along the baseline we just established. This is going to not only determine what condition the weapon is in but work toward assigning potential liability in case of any modifications.

In general, a MODERN single action cannot and will not fire since it has a transfer bar except when the trigger end is engaged (the internal fire position) because it must both drop the hammer and hold the bar there.

Question 1 is: Is this design safety functioning properly or was it disabled/modified?

The answer to that question is going to color everything else.

If its not functioning due to maintenance or modification, then Baldwin’s claim of “it went off” during some degree of handling MAY have a degree of validity to it.

If it IS functioning, then his claim is false and there is no defective weapon.

The other possibility could be (goes back to the physical inspection) a super heavy hammer spring and/or a modified firing pin. That needs to be looked at because of the claim it was partially manipulated.

See, its “THEORETICALLY POSSIBLE” for a SA to fire from third or half cock but HGHLY UNLIKELY and even then, only in cases of pin mods and spring mods due to the short radius and inability to develop inertia and momentum in such a short arc.

That’s all just on the mechanical aspects of this specific and only firearm and most of that is yet to be published.

That doesn’t address live ammo being anywhere near a movie set or any of the other safe handling issues brought up.

Personally, I think he was being careless and unsafe, and his actions directly caused the issue- that said, the totality of the circumstance is that he was “allegedly” handed what he had every reason to believe was a cold prop gun from what ostensibly was a “proper authority”.

My gut tells me multiple people are lying and we have not yet heard the real truth but I don’t believe the gun malfunctioned but that has to be ruled in or out first before anything else.

taurus the judge | December 10, 2021 at 9:21 am

For those never involved with a case in terms of how its developed, brought, charged, and prosecuted- always remember this.

One sides case is never any stronger than the other side’s ability to shoot holes in it (no pun intended).

Other than the mechanical condition of the said revolver and the question of “how, why and who had live ammunition on a movie set and then in a prop gun”? – here is the problem in charging Baldwin outright.

(For the record, I think he is lying and although I do not think for a second, he set out to injure anyone, he is at the very least guilty of reckless homicide or whatever the NM equivalent is for violating safe gun practices BUT my “thoughts” cannot be a basis for civil or criminal charges, and I have learned to turn my thoughts off and get in the “just the facts” mode when doing a case)

Also, we cannot be certain the information reported in the media which this commentary is based on is truly accurate and in detail.

In this case, this is where 2 laws “collide’ and create a grey area. We all read the postings on NM law regarding recklessness and so forth. The plain language is straight forward. The “totality of the circumstance” is a different matter altogether.

However, this was also a movie set with a designated PROP GUN that according to reports was “cleared by proper authority”.

That makes a difference in assessing recklessness because if this was a “shooting iron” at a gun range, no question about it.

It is also true than many “Hollywood guns” are non-firing replicas (Man from Uncle pistol and others).

That goes back to what Baldwin “believed” (or says he believed to avoid consequence or was led to believe by “proper authority”) about that gun when he handled the “prop gun”.

I’m not an actor but have done some re enacting back in the day. Its common practice to point and shoot at people especially when a camera is there and I’m sure Hollywood is no different.

Also, Baldwin is an ACTOR (not an expressed qualified and experienced shooter as we know) so his “experience” is with PROP GUNS on a MOVIE SET- not on a firing range or hunting.

That is in no way giving him an out as a responsibility based on my personal standards of conduct with a firearm but the argument (in terms of legal application) that he “believed” he was handling a PROP GUN (which allegedly was properly maintained, setup and all that by proper authority) will go a LONG WAY in pushing back on any negligence or reckless charge from a legal perspective.

That argument is going to carry a good deal of defensive horsepower.
If Baldwin can establish, he ‘believed” he was handling a PROP GUN that was in proper condition (based on the armorer and all that) then his liability is going to be significantly reduced (if not negated) from a legal perspective.

This is not even considering the chain of custody of the gun, set policies and procedures, the actual script requirements, duties, and responsibilities of others and probably more. That’s several more layers of ambiguity.

Based on my read of some of the claims (I don’t take any of the statements as true “fact” yet), there is clearly a case of reckless and involuntary homicide here. (if for no other reason than a live round was in the firearm)

The question in my mind is how this liability will be divided up and who it attaches to because right now I see lots of shared liability. Right now I think they are all lying and firmly in the CYA mode and the actual truth is either not released or possibly still unknown.

    henrybowman in reply to taurus the judge. | December 10, 2021 at 9:07 pm

    You put too much weight on the term “prop gun.” “Prop” means “property,” as in “inventory,” and that’s all it means. It doesn’t mean “non-working.”

    A car rigged with a side-jack to flip over is a “prop.” It can still run somebody over.
    Swords in cavalry scenes were “props.” They still killed a number of actors, even in nobody’s hands.
    Torches and pitchforks are “props.” They have set actors’ costumes on fire.

taurus the judge | December 11, 2021 at 5:24 am

@henrybowman

I know exactly what it means and you missed the point. “Everything” is “property” of someone- thats a distinction with no difference in everyday life but has unique trade definitions just like a wooden mock up of a tank is not the real thing either.

Your own example, as meaningless as it was in refuting my point actually establishes it as no one was charged with “vehicular manslaughter or reckless homicide when those accidents happened for the same reasons i am citing.

I’m speaking from real world experience and there is case law on it as well and many states have special exclusions for movies doing certain things.

A lot of Baldwin’s liability is going to hinge on what “he” thought of that gun at the moment in time and the validity (reasonableness) of that thought based on the totality of the circumstances.

I know people read a statute and think thats “it” but there’s a lot more to bringing and winning an actual charge in the real world.

Why do you think he hasn’t been charged yet if its so “cut and dried”?