A fatal accident occurred during the production of a Western movie titled Rust. The set was located in New Mexico in October 2021. Baldwin, one of the actors and producers of the film, pointed a gun at his colleague cinematographer Hutchins, and the gun accidentally went off, killing Hutchins. The scene was set at a small church. Alek Baldwin claimed that Hutchins asked him to point the gun at her and that he did not squeeze the trigger. The bullet also wounded Joel Souza.
Two Bills with the Same Goal
As a result of this incident, new rules regulating the use of guns while filming were drafted. Unfortunately, they did not pass the California Legislature. State Sen. Anthony Portantino advised Democrats and the entertainment industry to find a middle ground for the two bills for better chances of passing the legislature. Unfortunately, this advice fell on deaf years, and nothing was ever done. Consequently, the two bills fell through.
Dave Cortese’s bill proposed the ban of guns and blank ammunition containing gun powder from film sets. In addition, the bill proposed the ban of any other explosive charges from film sets with a few exceptions. If his bill had gone through, producers would be legally required to hire a trained set safety coordinator to perform a risk assessment before shoot day. The California International Alliance of Theatrical and State Employees Council supported Cortese’s bill. This bill did not go unopposed. The Alliance of Special Effects and Pyrotechnic Operators opposed Dave’s bill stating that the bill would not have evaded the tragic accident on foreign soil. They added that the bill would affect California’s quality of motion pictures.
On the other hand, Sen. Portantino’s bill would have allowed guns with blank ammunition on film sets under the close supervision of a fully trained armourer. The armourer would have to undergo gun safety education before being hired on set. The gun safety course would be put together and offered by the State Fire Marshal. The bill only allowed for live ammunition on special occasions with strict supervision.
State Sen. Portantino expressed his disappointment that the two bills could not be merged. Motion Picture Association fully backed Portantino’s bill, and it faced little opposition.
An Onslaught of Lawsuits
After the tragedy on the set of Rust last year, a few lawsuits have been launched. First, the New Mexico safety regulators fined the film production company $137,000 for failing to adhere to fire safety rules. Shortly after, Hutchin’s family sued Alek Baldwin and his fellow producers on set in connection to the shooting. These are just a few of the lawsuits launched after the tragic accident that took the life of Hutchins.
Other Bills that also Failed
The two bills were not the only ones that failed to pass the legislature ahead of the deadline for bills to be approved by the appropriations committee. A bill that proposed converting public golf courses into affordable housing was also shot down. Another bill that sought 7.4 billion dollars for wildfire prevention efforts and drinking water projects was also turned down. Last but not least, a proposal to terminate all state drilling and mining for gas and oil in state waters was quickly turned down.