Movie makers describe gun-safety rules after gun prop accident kills one, and injures another

Investigators, in New Mexico, are just beginning to determine the circumstances that led to the death of one, and the injury of another, when actor Alec Baldwin fired a prop gun while filming a movie scene.

In the 'escapism' of the movies, we think nothing of the dramatic gun battles that light up the screen, and we expect that everyone walks away safely when the director yells 'cut'. That's because a lot of work goes into making the pretend world of movies and TV appear like the real thing.

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Mike Walling creates movie special effects and spends a lot of time working with the people in charge of movie guns, known as weapons masters. 

He says safety is an unbending rule, "their job is just to handle weapons, and they are very, very good at what they do."

Kevin Sevier is one of those weapons masters. 

"Weapons safety is the utmost important thing you can do on a set," he says. 

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He describes an exhaustive process, with safety meetings, inspections of any guns and ammunition, and direct control of weapons before and after their use in a scene.

Still, accidents can occur. In 1993, actor Brandon Lee was killed while filming 'The Crow,' when he was struck by debris fired from the barrel of a handgun. Experts say there's no room for shortcuts, even when firing ‘blanks.’ 

"You're talking about black powder, gasses, dust, any other things that can still come out," says Sevier, "That's why you always set a precedent of 'distance' between the gun and the camera."


While the investigation continues, there is a lot of speculation about what happened on the movie set. 

"All we know is that one person is dead, one person is injured, at the hands of an actor who trusted his weapons master to give him a gun that was safe to fire," says Walling.