Since I’ve been asked several times my opinion about the Baldwin Killing, I’ll address those questions from the perspective of firearms safety only. The incident is a high profile example of a Serious Mistake leading to a Negative Outcome. Such a tragic event bears analysis to see what are the lessons that can be learned to prevent other such incidents, either on a movie set or in our personal lives, in the future.
For those who haven’t read the news lately, actor Alec Baldwin unintentionally discharged a revolver on a movie set last week. https://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/films/news/alec-baldwin-shooting-halyna-hutchins-latest-b1945263.html The film’s Cinematographer was killed by a single bullet that struck her in the torso and the Director was injured. RIP Ms. Hutchins.
Those who are interested in a legal aspects of the case can find my colleague Andrew Branca’s initial legal analysis on YouTube. https://youtu.be/upDuj8Ec Such an analysis is out of my league, so I will stay in my own lane and confine my comments to safety.
What occurred points out a very simple fact of life:
Firearms, like electricity, are relentlessly unforgiving of the slightest lapse in attentionThe Tactical Professor
One of the slides in the NRA Basics of Pistol Shooting Course states that Ignorance and Carelessness are the causes of firearms accidents.
The concept of ‘tolerance stackup’ often applies when an Unintentional Discharge occurs. By this we mean that when Ignorance and Carelessness overlap each other, the possibility of a Negative Outcome dramatically increases. Sadly for Ms. Hutchins, she was downrange when that overlap occurred.
A comment was made on an earlier version of Andrew’s video about the probability that the gun being used was a single action revolver. The commentator noted that the manual of arms of a single action is more complicated than a modern autoloading pistol. The extra steps involved in clearing a single action may have contributed to the discharge. For once, a comment was worth reading. Extra caution needs to be taken when handing firearms that have an unfamiliar and perhaps difficult manual of arms. That’s definitely a lesson that can be taken away from the incident.
There is no standard manual of arms that can be applied across all firearms, even modern ones. For instance, the Ruger LCP has a manual device for locking open the action but it does not lock open automatically. Conversely, the KelTec P-32 and P3AT do not have an external device to lock open the slide and require an empty magazine to do so. Despite the fact that the guns look very similar, they operate differently and require the operator to understand how to work them.
Another comment on the earlier Branca video came from a POlice firearms instructor who said there were at least 11 different firearms safety rules that have to be observed on any firearms range. While a case can be made for that argument, 11 or more rules constitutes a checklist that has to be written down. The need for long lists to be written down, i.e., a checklist, was learned in aviation somewhere around a century ago. While appropriate for range operators, and perhaps the film’s armorer, it’s not compatible with the way the human mind works. A memory aid has to be short, e.g., the Four Rules, or organized as an acronym, e.g., SALUTE.
The Four Rules of Safe Gunhandling are a good memory aid. However, we need to keep in mind that a memory aid is not a full explanation of the concepts being remembered, it is merely a way to jog our memories about what the base concepts are so we can apply them fully. The distinction between checklists, memory aids, and the concepts either are based on is another lesson we can take away from The Baldwin Killing.
“That could never happen to me” thinking is one reason I developed the underlying concepts contained in Serious Mistakes Gunowners Make http://seriousgunownermistakes.com years ago. I didn’t intend it for Hollywood actors but in retrospect, I wish the entire crew of the movie had read it. I’m not trying to be facetious or unkind to Ms. Hutchins’ memory by saying that.
More thoughts about The Baldwin Killing tomorrow.
Tactical Professor books (all PDF)
- Serious Mistakes Gunowners Make http://seriousgunownermistakes.com
- Real Shootouts of the LAPD https://realshootoutsofthelapd.com/
- Thinking Clearly about Self-defense and Personal Protection https://www.payloadz.com/go?id=3377208
- Indoor Range Practice Sessions http://indoorrangepracticesessions.com
- Concealed Carry Skills and Drills http://concealedcarryskillsanddrills.com
- Advanced Pistol Practice http://bit.ly/advancedpistolpractice
- Shooting Your Black Rifle http://shootingyourblackrifle.com
- Package deal of Thinking Clearly about Self-defense and Personal Protection, Serious Mistakes, Indoor Sessions, Concealed Carry, and Shooting Your Black Rifle (50% off) https://store.payloadz.com/details/2644448-ebooks-sports-shooting-drills-package.html
Purchase of any book includes Serious Mistakes Gunowners Make.