Last night, ABC aired its Alec Baldwin interview regarding Halyna Hutchins’s death. It was already old news that Baldwin claims that, while he cocked the gun, he did not pull the trigger. The surprise was his confession that he feels no guilt whatsoever for what happened because it was everybody else’s fault, not his .
During the interview, Baldwin readily acknowledged cocking the hammer . That is, he charged the gun and, without having confirmed for himself that the gun wasn’t loaded (something easy to do with a revolver), he pointed it at Halyna:
Baldwin said that, in the moments before the fatal shooting, they were participating in ‘a marking rehearsal.’
He said: ‘She’s getting me to position the gun – everything is at her direction. I draw the gun, to her marker.
‘I’m not shooting to the camera lens, I’m shooting just off. In her direction. This was a completely incidental shot, that may not have ended up in the film.’
Baldwin says he cocked the gun, and was discussing with Hutchins how it looked on camera.
‘I’m just showing. I go, ‘How ’bout that? Does that work? You see that? Do you see that?’
‘And then she goes, ‘Yeah, that’s good.’
In other words, it was Halyna’s fault that the gun was aimed in her direction.
Baldwin also claims he had no responsibility for there being a live round in the gun. He insisted that he’s an experienced actor handling guns and, contrary to George Clooney’s assertion that he checks the gun himself every time, Baldwin was instructed never to check the gun:
‘I probably handled weapons as much as any other actor in films with an average career, never shooting or being shot by someone. And in that time, I had a protocol. And it never let me down.’
Asked why he never checked his gun, Baldwin replied: ‘What I was taught by someone years ago was: if I took a gun and I popped a clip out of a gun or I manipulated the chamber of a gun, they would take the gun away from me and redo it.
‘The prop person said, ‘Don’t do that.’ I mean, I was young.
‘And they’d say, ‘One thing you would need to understand is we don’t want the actor to be the last line of defense against a catastrophic breach of safety with the gun. ‘My job,’ they told me, man or woman.
‘My job is to make sure the gun is safe, and that I hand you the gun, and I declare the gun safe. The crew’s not relying on you to say that it’s safe. They’re relying on me to say that it’s safe.’
‘When that person who was charged with that job handed me the weapon, I trusted them. And I never had a problem, ever.’
In other words, it was the fault of the armorer, the assistant director, and anyone else who handled the gun. And Baldwin, in his own mind, is certain that he had no obligation to ask the person handing him the gun to show him that it was safe.
Having attributed blame to everyone but himself, Baldwin was content:
Asked if he felt by guilty by ABC journalist George Stephanopoulos, Baldwin replied: ‘No. No. I feel that someone is responsible for what happened, and I can’t say who that is, but I know it’s not me.’
He added: ‘I mean, honest to God, if I felt that I was responsible, I might have killed myself if I thought I was responsible. And I don’t say that lightly.’
Baldwin’s sloughing off responsibility ignores the fact that the gun was in his hand when the bullet flew out of it and into Halyna’s chest. On those facts alone, Baldwin is guilty of negligent manslaughter. Why do I say that? Because, if you’ve ever taken a gun safety class, you know that two of the most important rules are (1) that the person holding a weapon must always assume it’s loaded unless he’s confirmed otherwise (either by his own hand or witnessing someone else do it) and (2) that you never point a weapon at anything or anybody unless you’re willing to shoot that thing or person.
Baldwin violated both those rules. I’m certain he never meant to kill Halyna – but life, sadly, is made up of those utterly appalling moments when, through a second’s inattention or carelessness, we commit a terrible act that we can’t take back.
Baldwin, however, has made himself as much a victim as Halyna herself. That’s just wrong. A normal person, even if saying accurately that he did nothing wrong, would still feel guilty. Thus, he might say something like, “I know that, as a practical and legal matter, I’m innocent in her death. But still, I cannot get over the fact that it was my hand on the weapon that killed her.” By absolving himself of even that responsibility, Baldwin sure seems like an awful human being.