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Arts and Entertainment

Months After Fatal 'Rust' Shooting, Lawmakers Hit Impasse On Movie Set Safety

An overhead view of the Bonanza Creek Ranch film set, largely dry brown dirt surroundings with a smattering of green vegetation, along with some larger red, orange, and brown trees. Some dirt roads curve in and out of the site, with around a dozen buildings. One that resembles the center of a town are in rows of small white buildings, with a dusty street separating them. Another building a bit further away appears to be a barn.
The Bonanza Creek Ranch film set, near where Alec Baldwin fatally shot Halyna Hutchins during production of the western film "Rust," on Oct. 28, 2021 in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
(Patrick T. Fallon
AFP via Getty Images)
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In the wake of Alec Baldwin’s fatal shooting of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins, there were widespread calls for stricter movie set gun regulations.

But California’s effort to pass such laws has stalled.

Soon after the fatal shooting, lawmakers drafted two California Senate bills to establish mandatory rules for guns and ammunition on film sets. The proposed legislation included penalties for safety violations, and mandated on-set supervisors when weapons were used.

Despite some support from Hollywood guilds — including Hutchins’ union, the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees — both bills did not get past the California Senate Appropriations Committee.

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Part of the issue: The industry failed to reach consensus on which provisions in which bills they favored.

“First the industry killed Halyna. Then they killed the bill that would’ve made people like her safe,” said Sen. Dave Cortese (D-San Jose), the author of one of the bills, in a statement. “Despite setbacks, I’m committed to real reforms that will protect our workers.”

Baldwin killed Hutchins on the set of “Rust” last October. A New Mexico workplace safety inquiryreleased last month concluded that her death was the result of “plain indifference” to gun safety.

While no criminal charges have been filed yet because of the October incident, the New Mexico Environment Department’s Occupational Health and Safety Bureau said in its report that the film’s producers and crew completely failed to follow industry guidelines in handling firearms and preventing live ammunition to be on set.

The agency said its fine of $136,793 is “the highest level of citation and maximum fine allowable by state law.”

The report said the film’s producers, operating as Rust Movie Productions LLC, were cited for the "plain indifference to the recognized hazards associated with the use of firearms on set that resulted in a fatality, severe injury, and unsafe working conditions.”

Earlier this week, Anjul Nigam, one of the film’s producers, told The Hollywood Reporter that “Rust” would be completed; production was suspended when Hutchins was killed. But Nigam promptly walked back his comments, saying resuming production was his hope, but not yet planned.

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