Did Alec Baldwin fire the weapon without pulling the trigger?

The universe reacted with disbelief when Alec Baldwin claimed he didn’t pull the trigger.

But Saturday it was reported that Assistant director Dave Halls has always maintained that Baldwin’s “finger was never in the trigger guard”

In addition, yesterday it was reported that Baldwin admits he did retract the hammer of the revolver. That leads to a question: Could the weapon be made to fire by manipulating the hammer only, without pulling the trigger?

The weapon involved is a revolver. What happens when the hammer of a revolver is retracted? As the hammer is drawn back the cylinder is revolved to the firing position for the next cartridge. When the hammer is fully retracted it locks in place and is released when the trigger is pulled.

The key operative word here is “released.” Pulling the trigger does not impel the hammer forward. There is a spring in the mechanism that impels the hammer forward to the waiting cartridge. As the hammer is retracted this spring is compressed creating a force impelling the hammer forward. When the hammer is locked in full retraction it remains in full retraction until released by pulling the trigger. If during retraction the thumb slips off the hammer before the hammer reaches full retraction, the compressed spring drives the hammer forward.

Image: Revolver. Piqsels.

So, the logical question is whether it is possible that the revolver could be made to fire without fingering the trigger by retracting the hammer with the thumb and releasing the hammer right before the hammer locked in place. This could be possible if the cylinder rotation reaches the firing position before the hammer reaches the lock position.

Could that happen?

I have a .44 Magnum revolver. Last night I unloaded it and played with releasing the hammer during retraction before the hammer reached the lock-back position. I found that releasing the hammer just before it reached lock-back position allows the hammer to fall on the cylinder port in firing position. Hence for my revolver, it indeed would be possible to fire it with touching the trigger. Would that be possible for all revolvers? I have no idea. In any event, Baldwin still violated the first and second rules of gun safety, when he didn't treat the gun as loaded and aimed it at a person.

Whether that would be possible for the specific revolver on the Rust movie set is a question for the gunsmith to answer.

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