Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

How Dangerous Are Prop Firearms On Movie Sets?

The heartbreaking death of Halyna Hutchins on the set of "Rust" in New Mexico has reopened the conversation about the dangers of using prop firearms on movie sets. This is not the first tragic incident to involve an accidental death involving a prop gun. Many audiences will be familiar with the circumstances surrounding Brandon Lee's death while filming "The Crow" in 1993. This latest tragedy occurred when "30 Rock" star Alec Baldwin fired his prop gun while filming "Rust," accidentally killing the film's director of photography Halyna Hutchins and wounding director Joel Souza. More details about the incident are sure to arrive online within the coming days, but for the moment, it's best not to speculate about what exactly happened.

The news comes shortly after Ruby Rose's claims about a dangerous environment on "Batwoman" arrived online, with the actress accusing The CW and its executives of negligence that led to severe injuries during production. The circumstances on "Rust" are different, but crew members shouldn't be in danger when working on a movie or TV show, and there is clearly a widespread issue of safety throughout the industry.

Several crew members are required when using prop firearms

When using prop firearms on movie sets, there should be multiple crew members involved to maintain the safety of the crew and the cast that are around the weaponry, because accidents can happen. When speaking to The Conversation, Christopher Gist and Sarah Mayberry opened up about using real guns on their thriller, "Darklands," explaining that they used blanks during production to simulate real gunfire. However, this doesn't immediately make the weapon safer, as blanks are still incredibly dangerous at close range. They're similar to normal ammunition, except they are typically packed with plastic, paper, or cotton.

Gist and Mayberry say that "A gun with no ammunition – that is, a gun with neither a bullet nor blanks – is not dangerous," but they also pointed out that sets using firearms of any kind should have "an armourer, a safety officer, and a stunt coordinator." The duo also noted that everyone involved should only be used in controlled situations, and there should also be multiple safety briefings about the scene and the guns. Gist and Mayberry also pointed out that because visual effects have come such a long way, studios are easily able to add a muzzle flash in post-production to complete the scene.

There are numerous ways to make prop firearms very safe on movie sets, but they require "an abundance of caution," as Gist and Mayberry put it.