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Fatal shooting on Alec Baldwin's film 'Rust' ushers in new gun control law

Baldwin is being sued by a crew member and has had his phone searched by the police during a criminal investigation into the fatal shooting
Baldwin is being sued by a crew member and has had his phone searched by the police during a criminal investigation into the fatal shooting   -   Copyright  AP/Evan Agostini
By Tim Gallagher  with AP

The fatal shooting of a crew member on the set of Alec Baldwin film 'Rust' has prompted new gun safety legislation.

A Republican legislator representing New Mexico – the location of the shooting – wants actors and other film-set professionals to undergo state-sponsored gun-safety training after a cinematographer was fatally shot last year on the set of the film.

Baldwin, who was handling the weapon at the time, maintains he thought the gun was not loaded with live ammunition.

US State Sen. Cliff Pirtle of Roswell, an ardent supporter of gun rights, is responsible for the bill's creation. 

The legislation would require all acting and film production personnel where firearms are present to complete a safety course offered by the New Mexico Game and Fish Department that is designed primarily for hunters.

Could New Mexico's gun protection bill become law?

AP Photo
In a tearful interview Baldwin denied pulling the trigger that caused Hutchins' death last yearAP Photo

It was unclear whether the Democrat-led legislature will bring the bill up for debate and a possible vote during a 30-day legislative session that ends February 17.

Outside of his governmental work, Sen. Pirtle has handled prop firearms in a number of minor roles for Western movies, such as 'Deadman Standing' in 2018 and 'Death Alley' in 2021.

"Unfortunately, to the Hollywood elite, the talk around guns is all too abstract," he said. "This is a simple bill to bring some gravity back to the use of firearms on film sets."

The direction of the bill now lies New Mexico's Democratic Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham. An email from a representative states she had not yet read the bill as of January 31 and declined to say whether she supports the initiative.

If successful, production companies that don't comply would risk their eligibility for state film tax rebates.

New Mexico offers a rebate of between 25 per cent and 35 per cent of in-state spending for video production that helps filmmakers large and small underwrite their work.

Who is responsible for the death of Halyna Hutchins?

AP/Damian Dovarganes
Hutchins was a well-known cinematographer and her death shocked the film industry and wider publicAP/Damian Dovarganes

Baldwin has said he didn't know the gun he was holding contained a live round when it went off while pointed at Hutchins.

New Mexico enforces general workplace safety requirements on film sets and defers in some instances to gun-safety standards that are developed by the film industry.

The Santa Fe County Sheriff's Office that is leading an investigation into the cause of the death has said it is too soon to determine whether charges will be filed.

Investigators have described "some complacency" in how weapons were handled on set at a movie-set ranch near Santa Fe, as they trace the source of ammunition from the set including live and dummy rounds.