On October 21st, actor Alec Baldwin was practicing removing a prop gun from its holster during filming on the set of a film called Rust when tragedy struck. Baldwin discharged the firearm and hit the Director of Photography, Halyna Hutchins, killing her. The Director, Joel Souza, was also injured. The prop gun had been called a cold gun before it was handed to Baldwin, meaning it did not have any live rounds in it. You might be asking what the differences are between a prop gun and a real gun. Allan Friesen, an Instructor for the Canadian Firearms Safety Course, says there are vast differences between the two guns and the ammunition that comes from both. A modern cartridge for a firearm that’s either a handgun or a rifle has four components to it.
“It’s got the case that holds the bit. It’s got the primer, powder charge, and it’s got the bullet. When you press the trigger the firing pin hits the primer and the primer shoots a flame into a large part of the case. It ignites that gunpowder and the rapid expanding gas pushes the bullet out of end of the barrel. For a prop gun, to make it look real they have to have a bang and a flame. Basically they’ll take the powder out and they’ll modify the case just so it holds the powder in it. Often they’ll put a piece of wax or something just to hold the powder in place. When you press the trigger the firing pin hits the primer and the primer shoots a flame into the case to ignite that powder. There’s a flash of the gunpowder, but no bullet to project.”
An official affidavit for the case says that the Assistant Director, Dave Halls, said there were no live rounds in the prop gun right before it was handed to Baldwin. Halls was previously fired for another incident involving a firearm accident on a set in 2019.