Safety training proposed for NM actors handling firearms - Albuquerque Journal

Safety training proposed for NM actors handling firearms

The Bonanza Creek Ranch one day after an incident left one crew member dead and another injured on the set of the movie "Rust." (Roberto E. Rosales/Albuquerque Journal)
In this file photo, the Bonanza Creek Ranch is seen after a shooting on the set of the Western film “Rust” that left a cinematographer dead and the director injured. (Roberto E. Rosales/Albuquerque Journal)

Copyright © 2022 Albuquerque Journal

SANTA FE – Actors and others who work around firearms on film sets would be required to take a gun safety course under legislation proposed Monday at the Roundhouse – a response to the fatal “Rust” shooting last fall.

Republican state Sen. Cliff Pirtle of Roswell said he introduced the proposal to ensure actors and prop personnel understand they’re handling a deadly weapon, not just a prop, during scenes with firearms.

They would have to complete hunter safety training offered by the Department of Game and Fish.

“Unfortunately, to the Hollywood elite, the talk around guns is all too abstract,” Pirtle said in a written statement. “This is a simple bill to bring some gravity back to the use of firearms on film sets.”

The proposal, Senate Bill 188, faces long odds in the 30-day session now underway. It has not been authorized by Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham for addition to the legislative agenda, and the session ends in 18 days.

Its introduction comes as Santa Fe authorities investigate a shooting on the set of “Rust” in October – when actor Alec Baldwin fired a shot that killed Halyna Hutchins, director of photography, and wounded Joel Souza, the director.

Baldwin contends he did not pull the trigger when the gun went off and that he has no idea how a live round found its way on set.

No one has been charged.

The crew was filming a Western at Bonanza Creek Ranch outside Santa Fe.

Pirtle said his bill would ensure actors and prop personnel are trained in gun safety.

Anyone employed by a film production company on a set where firearms or ammunition are on site would have to have a certificate of competency in the safe handling of firearms.

“I was heartbroken to learn of the tragic incident on the ‘Rust’ film set,” Pirtle said. “Having personally used a similar revolver on film sets, I know there is no space to be cavalier with these firearms. They are not props; they are deadly weapons regardless of the context of use.”

Pirtle has acted as a ranch hand and as an accountant in two Westerns: “Deadman Standing” and “Death Alley.” He used a revolver loaded with blanks in one appearance.

A spokeswoman for Lujan Grisham said the administration had not seen the bill Monday, but would review it.

In 30-day legislative sessions, approval by the governor is necessary to consider bills that do not fall into certain categories, such as budget and tax legislation.

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