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Dear Alec Baldwin: There’s No Such Thing As A Gun Accident

The first rule of gun safety is: ALWAYS Keep The Gun Pointed In A Safe Direction. Sometimes this is phrased in the vernacular as, “Never point your gun at something you are not willing to destroy.” Or kill.

Far Left actor Alec Baldwin was reportedly "hysterical and absolutely inconsolable for hours" after a prop gun “mishap” on the New Mexico set of his movie "Rust" killed cinematographer Halyna Hutchins and injured director Joel Souza.

"Everyone knows this was an accident, but he's absolutely devastated," a Hollywood insider told

The “everyone” referred to above must mean “everyone in Hollywood” because in the real world of hunting and other shooting sports there no such thing as a gun “accident,” we call what Mr. Baldwin did a “negligent discharge” and in many states it is a crime.

To obtain the basic pistol handling certificate necessary to qualify for a concealed carry permit in those states without constitutional carry the first thing most students will see is a poster with these rules:

ALWAYS Keep The Gun Pointed In A Safe Direction

ALWAYS Keep Your Finger Off The Trigger Until Ready To Shoot

ALWAYS Keep The Gun Unloaded Until Ready To Use

The late Lt. Col. Jeff Cooper’s rules of safe gun handling, as taught at his famous Gunsite Academy and military and police programs across the country, are slightly different but cover the same ground:

All guns are always loaded. Even if they are not, treat them as if they are.

Never let the muzzle cover anything you are not willing to destroy.

Keep your finger off the trigger till your sights are on the target.

Identify your target, and what is behind it

Students in my classes will spend the next eight hours learning how to safely handle a pistol, how various types of firearms work and having the above rules, and other standard practices of gun safety drummed into them – and then they will go to the range and demonstrate to me that they can apply them and shoot a qualifying score.

During class time no live ammunition is allowed in the classroom, and students are asked to empty their pockets as they enter the classroom just to make sure.

Each time we handle a gun it is checked by two people, me the instructor and a student to make sure it is unloaded.

All of this begs the question, why was Mr. Baldwin pointing his gun at Ms. Hutchins and Mr. Souza instead of downrange and why did he not know it was loaded and with live ammunition no less?

The answer is negligence in gun handling.

The media narrative has now shifted from Mr. Baldwin’s responsibility for killing Ms. Hutchins to finding a scapegoat for the “accident.” Hannah Gutierrez has been identified as the film set armorer, her job is: “Loading firearms with appropriately sized blanks. Ensuring gun safety on set along with instructing actors on how to use their guns.”

According to court records, reported by Yahoo News, first assistant director Dave Halls handed the prop gun to Baldwin before the fatal shooting at the Bonanza Ranch in New Mexico, indicating incorrectly that the weapon didn't carry live rounds by yelling "cold gun."

Did Ms. Gutierrez and Mr. Halls check the gun for live ammunition? Obviously not, and that’s not an “accident,” that’s negligence.

And how did live ammunition find its way on to the set? It didn’t walk in by itself, someone brought it in and loaded a gun with it – that’s negligence or worse – not an “accident.”

And how did Mr. Baldwin not know his gun was loaded with live ammunition? Did he not check it before pointing at another human being and pulling the trigger?

Obviously not – and that’s not an “accident,” that’s negligence.

When I teach a basic pistol or rifle course the last thing I tell my students when we leave the classroom for the range is: “When you pick up a gun you own the gun and every bullet you send downrange, and you own the results of pulling the trigger.”

From our perspective there’s no such thing as a gun “accident.” When he picked up the gun Mr. Baldwin owned the gun and every bullet he sent downrange – the tragic death of Ms. Hutchins and the wounding of Mr. Souza are criminal acts, based on negligence, not an “accident,” and Mr. Baldwin and all those involved should be held accountable.

CHQ Editor George Rasley is a certified rifle and pistol instructor, a Glock ® certified pistol armorer and a veteran of over 300 political campaigns, including every Republican presidential campaign from 1976 to 2008. He served as lead advance representative for Governor Sarah Palin in 2008 and has served as a staff member, consultant, or advance representative for some of America's most recognized conservative Republican political figures, including President Ronald Reagan and Jack Kemp. A member of American MENSA, he served in policy and communications positions on the House and Senate staff, and during the George H.W. Bush administration he served on the White House staff of Vice President Dan Quayle.

  • Alec Baldwin

  • Keep The Gun Pointed In A Safe Direction

  • Halyna Hutchins

  • Joel Souza

  • Rust

  • Bonanza Ranch in New Mexico

  • shooting sports

  • gun accident

  • Negligent discharge

  • Lt. Col. Jeff Cooper’s rules

  • prop gun

  • live ammunition

  • Hannah Gutierrez

  • Dave Halls

  • criminal negligence

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