The gun that killed Halyna Hutchins on the set of the western Rust had been used that morning by members of the film crew to pass the time shooting at empty cans, as The Wrap published after speaking with a source close to the shoot.
On the morning of the incident, some members of the crew used several prop guns to shoot at empty cans during one of the breaks. The accident occurred a few hours later, so it is possible that the weapon was not empty when it was returned to the prop cart.
It’s now confirmed that the morning of the accident crew members were using the gun in question to target shoot beer cans. The gun came back to set still loaded with a live round. This is not allowed by any production because of the possibility of a real bullet ending up on set.
— Jon Cassar (@joncassar) October 26, 2021
Since the tragic accident that took the life of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins last Thursday, various reports have painted a picture of the set of Rust full of irregularities when it comes to compliance with safety measures. Perhaps because of this, a gun loaded with live ammunition ended up in the hands of Alec Baldwin, who fired it, hitting Hutchins and the film’s director, Joel Souza.
Two names are at the center of the police and internal investigation on what happened on set: the armorer in charge of preparing the prop guns and the assistant director who didn’t check whether the weapon he handed over to the actor was actually unloaded, when he yelled “cold gun” (that is, unloaded or without live ammunition). In 2019 the same assistant director was fired from another shoot over a similar incident in which a gun was accidentally discharged.
Despite the fact that several members of the team left the production of Rust a few days before the accident, complaining about their working conditions and the breach of safety regulations, the production company Rust Productions assures in a statement that “the safety of our cast and crew is the top priority of Rust Productions and everyone associated with the company.”