LOS ANGELES (AFP) — Calls were growing Sunday to ban the use of firearms in movie-making, as Hollywood struggled to come to terms with Alec Baldwin’s fatal on-set shooting of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins.
A memorial service will be held Sunday for 42-year-old Hutchins, who was struck in the chest when Baldwin fired a prop gun during the filming of the low-budget Western “Rust.” She died shortly after the incident Thursday in New Mexico.
Director Joel Souza, 48, who was crouching behind her as they lined up a shot, was wounded and hospitalized, then released.
Police are still investigating the shooting, which sparked intense speculation on social media about how such an accident could have occurred despite detailed and long-established gun safety protocols for film sets.
A petition on the website change.org calling for a ban on live firearms on film sets and better working conditions for crews had gathered more than 18,000 signatures by Sunday afternoon.
“There is no excuse for something like this to happen in the 21st century,” says the text of the petition launched by Bandar Albuliwi, a screenwriter and director.
Dave Cortese, a Democrat elected to the California Senate, put out a statement on Saturday saying, “There is an urgent need to address alarming work abuses and safety violations occurring on the set of theatrical productions, including unnecessary high-risk conditions such as the use of live firearms.”
He said he intends to push a bill banning live ammunition on movie sets in California.
The hit Los Angeles police drama “The Rookie” decided the day after the shooting to ban all live ammunition from its set, effective immediately, according to industry publication The Hollywood Reporter.
But some industry professionals said the use of weapons on film was not the problem.
Movie armorer SL Huang, writing on Twitter, said she had worked on hundreds of film sets without incident, thanks to the stringent safety protocols and the built-in redundancies.
“A tragedy happening in *this particular* way defies everything I know about how we treat guns on film sets,” she wrote.
“My colleagues and I have been trying to figure out how this could happen when following our basic safety procedures and we keep ending at a loss.
“Which implies… that very basic, very standard safety procedures may not have been followed. And that nobody shut the production down when they weren’t.”
Baldwin, who has spoken of his heartbreak after the killing, is cooperating with the police investigation.
The probe has focused on the specialist in charge of the weapon and the assistant director who handed it to Baldwin, according to an affidavit seen by AFP.