Alec Baldwin is being aggressively charged by the Santa Fe County District Attorney with two counts of involuntary manslaughter. Cinematographer Halyna Hutchins was killed and director Joel Souza was injured in an incident involving a firearm on October 21, 2021. A gun Baldwin was holding fired a projectile on the film set of “Rust.”
The prosecution must prove that Baldwin had a duty to inspect the gun himself and knew it had previously discharged, among other factors, in order to convict him of involuntary manslaughter. This case serves as a cautionary tale about the consequences of firearm negligence.
Involuntary manslaughter is when a death or injury occurs due to criminal negligence or recklessness. In this case, the prosecution will have to prove that Baldwin had a duty to inspect the gun himself, he knew it had previously discharged, he pulled the trigger despite denying it, his finger shouldn’t have been near the trigger, he shouldn’t have cocked the hammer or some combination of these factors. If convicted of these charges, Baldwin faces up to 18 months in prison. There is also a firearms enhancement which carries an additional five-year mandatory minimum sentence if found guilty.
Baldwin's defense will be based on his claim that he reasonably relied on another person’s representation that it was what is referred to as a ‘cold gun;’ meaning there were no rounds loaded in it and thus could not fire any bullets. It appears from evidence presented so far that authorities believe otherwise—that Baldwin did not take reasonable precautions with regard to inspecting and handling this particular firearm before pulling the trigger—and ultimately caused tragic results for Halyna Hutchins and Joel Souza. Whether he will be found guilty remains to be seen but this case serves as an important reminder about taking all necessary safety measures when using firearms—whether you are an actor on set or someone at home practicing target shooting in their own backyard—properly researching and following all safety protocols should never be taken lightly.
The tragedy resulting from Alec Baldwin's alleged negligent use of firearms serves as an example of why proper research and adherence to safety protocols should never be taken lightly when working with firearms—no matter who you are or what situation you are in. No one should ever find themselves facing criminal charges because they failed to take necessary precautions when handling firearms; unfortunately for Mr. Baldwin (and for Halyna Hutchins' family), that is exactly what has happened here. We can only hope that others learn from this unfortunate circumstance and take greater care when handling deadly weapons moving forward.