Video Screened in 'Rust' Trial Shows What Alec Baldwin Was Doing with Pistol Before Shooting - Did He Think Himself a Cowboy?

Sometimes a person’s alleged behavior preceding a tragedy — even one resulting from an accident — strikes us as sadly predictable.

According to Variety, jurors in Santa Fe, New Mexico, on Thursday saw never-before-publicly-viewed footage from the set of the film “Rust,” where an accidental shooting in Oct. 2021 took the life of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins.

The video showed actor Alec Baldwin, who held the Colt .45 when it went off and killed Hutchins, engaged in behavior that one expert witness described as “not normal nor accepted.”

Veteran armorer Bryan Carpenter testified Thursday in the trial of Hannah Gutierrez Reed, 24, the armorer for “Rust.” On film sets, the armorer bears responsibility for all weapons.

Prosecutors have charged Gutierrez Reed with criminal negligence. If convicted, she could receive up to three years in prison, according to the BBC.

Baldwin, meanwhile, faces a trial of his own on charges of involuntary manslaughter.

And the footage revealed Thursday showed the actor engaged in behavior that one could describe as characteristically arrogant and reckless.

“One more! One more! One more! Right away! Let’s reload!” Baldwin shouted, eager to do another take. He had just emerged from a shed, in character, firing shots from a pistol. And he appeared impatient as he spoke to Gutierrez Reed, according to Variety.

“Here we go! C’mon,” he said. “We should have two guns and both we’re reloading.”

Additional footage showed Baldwin talking to crew members and pointing his gun in the direction he planned to shoot.

“I don’t want to shoot toward you,” Baldwin said. “I’m going to shoot close to you.”

Carpenter testified to the problems with the actor’s behavior.

“Rushing with firearms and telling someone to rush with firearms is not normal nor accepted,” the veteran armorer said. “In a situation like that, when you’re getting rushed to that extent, that’s when safety starts to fall by the wayside.”

Furthermore, the actor erred by “using the weapon as a pointing stick.”

David Halls, first assistant director on “Rust,” had a different interpretation of the footage.

“I don’t characterize that as Mr. Baldwin rushing people,” Halls testified. “I characterize it as an actor in his moment — ‘I’m ready. OK, let’s go.’ There was never Mr. Baldwin rushing anybody.”

Meanwhile, Gutierrez Reed’s attorney, Jason Bowles, asked Carpenter how he thought a 24-year-old might handle an A-list actor like Baldwin on set.

“It would be a difficult situation,” Carpenter said, but the responsibility remains with the armorer.

“If that is not something you feel capable of doing, you should never step into the position of doing it,” the witness added. “You have to be prepared to go home.”

No one, of course, has accused Gutierrez Reed or Baldwin of doing anything deliberately. And a jury will decide if they committed actual crimes.

Still, this story involves more than legal guilt or innocence. Gun safety, like responsible citizenship in general, requires self-government, or the literal government of oneself.

To illustrate — at least for readers of a certain age — here is a hypothetical question. First, go back 25 years in your mind. Then, ask yourself which prominent actor of that era would least surprise you if they one day found themselves in the middle of an accidental on-set shooting that involved at least some degree of arrogance and recklessness?

If you said Baldwin, then you gave the same answer I would have given.

In Dec. 1998, Baldwin appeared on NBC’s “Late Night with Conan O’Brien,” where, according to the Chicago Tribune, the actor made threatening remarks about Republican Rep. Henry Hyde of Illinois, then-Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee overseeing the impeachment of President Bill Clinton.

“We should go to Washington and stone Henry Hyde to death. And then we should go to his house and kill his family,” Baldwin raved.

I remember the moment. It was my introduction to the mind of Alec Baldwin. One does not forget such things.

Nor has the actor improved with time.

In other words, whether or not he bears responsibility for the fatal on-set shooting, Baldwin has displayed unhinged anger. And that seems like an issue that goes hand-in-hand with the impatience, arrogance and recklessness exhibited in the video.

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Josh Manning

Deputy Managing Editor

The Western Journal

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