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New Bill Could Ban Live Ammo And Guns On Production Sets

A film camera sits on a tripod amid a desert background
A movie camera on a Santa Fe set in 2018.
(Chris Murray via Unsplash)
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There's a legislative push in California to ban all firearms and live ammunition from film and TV sets and theatrical productions, following the deadly shooting of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins on a New Mexico film set.

State Sen. Dave Cortese of San Jose, who chairs the Senate Labor Committee that is tasked with reviewing legislation that affects workers’ rights and safety, plans to introduce his bill this month.

“It's one thing to shoot a Western movie … it's another thing altogether to toss somebody a gun without checking to see if it's loaded and telling them to point it at somebody … it betrays everything that firearms instructors teach," he said in an interview with KPCC/LAist.

Cortese said that while he grew up with guns, he only supports the use of non-functioning firearms for entertainment purposes.

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"Even a politician knows that special effects really supplant the need in this millennium for people to be pointing live firearms — something that has a firing pin in it — at somebody, which you're never supposed to do unless you intend to shoot."

The senator said the bill will include weapon certifications for prop-masters and armorers, similar to those that IATSE, the union for below-the-line film and TV employees, already has in place.

"Frankly, I think that the protocols that I've read about that they have in place in terms of safety now, and who should be handling guns and who shouldn't, are probably pretty good rules,” Cortese said. “What I think's missing is that they haven't been given the force of law."

Halyna Hutchins was killed last Friday when a gun used by actor Alec Baldwin discharged during a rehearsal. Director Joel Souza was also injured in the shooting. The assistant director on set, Dave Halls, deemed the weapon a “cold gun,” meaning there was no live round in it when he handed it to Baldwin. Authorities in New Mexico are investigating the shooting.

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