No, let's not be kind to Alec
There have been a number of suggestions, from the conservative press as much as elsewhere, that we should go easy on poor Alec Baldwin concerning the terrible "accident" that resulted in a "tragedy" at his New Mexico filming location.
No, we should not. It was not an accident, and it is not a tragedy.
There a four primary rules of firearms handling, codified many years ago by firearms expert Jeff Cooper. Everyone serious about firearms has long ago committed them to memory:
- Every gun is always loaded.
- Never put your finger on the trigger until you are about to shoot.
- Never aim at anything you are not willing to destroy.
- Be absolutely certain about what is behind your target.
It seems clear that Baldwin ignored every last one of these. He didn't bother to check his weapon to see if it was loaded. He had his finger on the trigger in an insecure situation. He aimed it at two people. His director, Joel Souza, was standing behind Halyna Hutchins, who was killed. Souza was evidently hit by the same round.
Baldwin has long been an outspoken advocate of gun control. He has generally presented himself as an expert — he generally presents himself as an expert on everything that has ever happened since humans first appeared on the Serengeti. His remarks concerning firearms have been sarcastic, vindictive, and dismissive of anyone with the temerity to disagree. Second Amendment–supporters, on the other hand, have long suspected that his firearms expertise, as is true of most gun control advocates, has been rudimentary at best. And now...whatayya know.
As the narrative evolves, the incident is looking much less like an accident and much more like a crime. The professional Hollywood film crew abandoned the production only hours before the shooting and were replaced by clueless locals. The crew's complaints appear to be largely based on safety — there were two other firearms incidents reported the previous week. It appears that no armorer or firearms master was present on scene to oversee use of firearms, as is standard practice in the industry.
Baldwin was co-producing the film and therefore is directly responsible. So no — he should not be let slide. He should be chased from pillar to post, and if the facts fall out the way they seem to be doing, he should be prosecuted. Anything less is a defiance of law and an act of disrespect for the victim.
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