State lawmaker calls for ban on live ammunition and real guns on California movie sets

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FILE - In this May 26, 2020, file photo, members of the state Assembly meet at the Capitol in Sacramento, Calif. On Thursday, July 15, 2021, California lawmakers are scheduled to vote on a bill that would fund guaranteed income programs across the state. Guaranteed income programs give money to people each month with no restrictions on how they can spend it. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli, Pool, File)
The California Assembly meets at the Capitol in Sacramento in 2020. (Associated Press)

A California state senator called for a ban on live ammunition on movie sets and in theatrical productions following the death Thursday of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins involving a prop gun fired by actor Alec Baldwin on a New Mexico movie set.

Sen. Dave Cortese (D-San Jose), chair of the Senate Labor Committee, said he would introduce legislation that would ban live ammunition and firearms capable of shooting live ammunition from California movie sets and theatrical productions. With the Legislature now in recess, details of any bill are not likely to be available until January.

“There is an urgent need to address alarming work abuses and safety violations occurring on the set of theatrical productions, including unnecessary high-risk conditions such as the use of live firearms,” Cortese said in a statement.

“It is important that California establish new safety standards and best practices for all those who work in the industry and particularly in our own state," he said. "Those working behind the scenes to entertain and bring joy to millions all over the world shouldn’t go to set worrying if they will return home safely to their family. Our entertainment industry must do a better job of ensuring safe working conditions for our hardworking crews.

"I intend to introduce legislation that would ban live ammunition on sets in California to prevent this type of senseless violence and loss of life," he continued. "I offer my support in any way to the family of Ms. Halyna Hutchins during this time of tragic loss.”

Hutchins, 42, had worked on indie features like “Archenemy,” “Blindfire” and “The Mad Hatter,” and had been selected as one of American Cinematographer magazine’s rising stars of 2019. She was working on the western film "Rust," starring and produced by Baldwin, when she was shot.

In her honor, the American Film Institute established the Halyna Hutchins Memorial Scholarship Fund. "As is profoundly true in the art of cinematography, words alone cannot capture the loss of one so dear to the AFI community," read a statement on its website. "At AFI, we pledge to see that Halyna Hutchins will live on in the spirit of all who strive to see their dreams realized in the stories we tell."

Joel Souza, the director of "Rust," was injured in Thursday's incident and taken to a Santa Fe hospital but has since been discharged.

A spokesperson for Baldwin said there was an accident on the set involving the misfire of a prop gun with blanks, though it was unclear how that might have happened even while protocols for weapon and prop gun uses on movie sets are typically strict.

ABC's popular TV show "The Rookie" announced on Friday that it had banned the firing of real guns on the show.

There have been multiple on-set gun deaths in Hollywood and beyond, dating to the movie industry's earliest days.

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.

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