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The Tragic Death of Halyna Hutchins: What Went Wrong On the Set of ‘Rust’

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.

On October 21, 2021, on the set of the upcoming film Rust, a missed safety protocol check cost the cinematographer. Haylna Hutchins, her life and left the public stunned. On social media and news, people were heartbroken for her friends and family and unsure how such a grave mistake could be made on a modern movie set. Much of the public wondered how a live round could end up in the gun and why a real gun was being used at all.

The accident occurred when Alec Baldwin was practicing a scene in which he aims and shoots at the camera. The gun that Baldwin used was supposed to be loaded with “dummy rounds”, but instead shot a live round. The round struck Hutchins in the side, as she was behind the camera Baldwin was shooting at. She was immediately taken to the New Mexico hospital in Albequerque and died upon arrival. Hutchins was the only one killed by the accident, but director Joel Souza was injured from the gunshot and taken to St. Vincent Medical Center in Sante Fe.

The horrific incident was a shock to many, but other staff felt the set was unsafe prior to Hutchins’ death. Hours before the live round was fired, staff on the film walked off the set in protest because of long working hours and inadequate pay. Many of them said that the focus was on budget and money rather than safety, as there were two misfire incidents the week prior. Typically, firearms are checked by the armorer and then the assistant director before the gun is given to the actor. “Cold gun” was yelled when the firearm was given to Baldwin, meaning that there were no live rounds in the gun. The assistant director, Dave Halls, admitted that he did not properly check the prop gun, and armorer Hannah Guiterrez says she has no idea where the live round came from. She claims that the rounds put into the prop guns come from a box with “dummy rounds”, and would have no live rounds inside. As the investigation continues, production of the film has been halted.

Assistant director, Dave Halls, admitted he did not properly check the prop gun.

CNN Entertainment

Following the incident and death of Hutchins, lawsuits have been filed against Baldwin, Guiterrez, Halls, and other people and companies related to the production of Rust. Within the next couple of months the wrongful death suit of Hutchins will play out and more details will be released. After the lawsuit judgments are over, the lasting question is this: how will safety be improved to prevent disasters on set in the future? This is not the first time an actor or employee has been killed on set by a gunshot. One of the most infamous examples is the death of Brandon Lee in 1993. He too was shot by his costar, when a gun that was supposed to be filled with dummy rounds was filled with bullets. Baldwin believes that police should be present on movie sets with real guns. Others have suggested real guns being taken off of movie sets completely, as the technology exists to create realistic shooting scenes without actual guns. As the family and friends of Hutchins mourn and more information comes out, it becomes increasingly clear that changes to gun usage and safety is necessary to prevent more lives from being taken too soon.

Elysia is a Freshman at the University of Connecticut who is studying marketing. Her passions are fashion history, travel, and dogs. In her spare time she loves to thrift, go to museums and work at a doggy daycare.
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