Actor and former director explains prop gun safety in light of Alec Baldwin accident

ABC7 spoke to a former assistant director who gave insight on how someone could have wound up...
ABC7 spoke to a former assistant director who gave insight on how someone could have wound up dead because of a prop gun.(Shane Battis)
Published: Oct. 27, 2021 at 2:15 PM EDT
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SARASOTA, Fla. (WWSB) - A 42-year-old woman is dead after a producer claims actor Alec Baldwin accidentally shot and killed her when a prop gun misfired on the set of a Western film in production in New Mexico.

In light of the incident, ABC7 spoke to Louis Hagney, a former Hollywood assistant director, to understand how prop guns on set work and what safety protocols are supposed to be followed to avoid tragedies like this.

Hagney explained that a common misconception is that these “prop guns” are fake.

Actually, these are real guns -- so the danger can be real too.

Hollywood propmasters load the guns with blank rounds, so there’s no projectile. However, if something gets lodged inside, it can be shot like a bullet.

“You can have something where the barrel maybe gets jammed with something else,” Hagney said. “Something from a previous shooting. Maybe they used the same gun the night before and something was stuck in the barrel, and they didn’t clean it properly. I mean, a lot of things could have happened.”

It’s unclear if that’s what happened to Baldwin’s gun, that’s just a possibility.

He said crews are supposed to make it very clear when a gun is brought onto the set. The actors are only allowed to use them while shooting the scene and cannot point them at anyone.

Hagney said there’s no way this recent shooting could have happened if all the rules were followed.

“I’m very interested to find out what happened because it should not have happened,” Hagney said. “There’s absolutely no way that that would have happened on any movie I’ve ever worked on.”

We also spoke to local actor Trevor Aabel, who described his experience working on a set that called for weapons. He confirmed that sometimes real guns are used, but that they are full of blanks.

In his experience, only those with military or law enforcement background were allowed to use live weapons.

He also stated that for extra safety measures, a specialist would walk to each actor and show them that their gun was empty.

This isn’t the first time something like this has happened. In 1993, actor Brandon Lee was accidentally shot while filming a movie called “The Crow.”

A fellow actor shot him with what he thought was a gun loaded with blanks. Inside the barrel was actually a .44 caliber bullet.

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