Yesterday, we learned prosecutors would drop the criminal charges against actor Alec Baldwin in the shooting death of Halyna Hutchins, a cinematographer during the filming of “Rust,” a movie in which Baldwin both was directing and acting. Prosecutors haven't provided detailed reasons for dropping the charges, but gave an initial brief statement which doesn't seem satisfying.
Alec Baldwin Shooting Incident—
Here is a quick recap of the incident.
So back in 2021, actor and director Alec Baldwin shot and killed one person, and injured another while getting ready to film a scene in Rust. The scene involved Baldwin using a firearm, and he was practicing during rehearsal. Baldwin cocked and fired the single-action revolver which was supposed to be unloaded. It wasn't.
The round Baldwin fired struck two people, killing one. Baldwin, a rabid anti-gunner, did what came naturally. He blamed the gun. Baldwin said he never squeezed the trigger, and the gun “just went off”. An FBI forensic report on the gun showed Baldwin's statement was factually untrue. The report found that the gun functioned properly at the time of the incident, and could NOT have discharged on its own.
The investigation into the shooting revealed those in charge of filming, consistently disregarded safety protocols, as well as other unsafe firearm handling that didn't result in injury or death. The movies armorer, who police also charged in the shooting, was incompetent in her duties. Baldwin blamed the armorer and others for not ensuring the gun was clear before they gave it to him.
Investigators Find “New Facts” in The Case—
So two years later prosecutors drop the charges, because investigators found “new facts” that require further investigation. We don't know yet what those new facts are, but it seems like prosecutors won't have the time to fully investigate before the upcoming May 3rd preliminary hearing.
The prosecutors gave this brief statement yesterday.
“Consequently, we cannot proceed under the current time constraints and on the facts and evidence turned over by law enforcement in its existing form. We therefore, will be dismissing the involuntary manslaughter charges against Mr. Baldwin to conduct further investigation.”
“The decision to drop charges does not “absolve Mr. Baldwin of criminal culpability. Charges may be refiled.”
What Could it Mean?
I have to admit, my initial reaction to hearing prosecutors dismiss charges against Baldwin, but not for the armorer, Hannah Gutierrez, I thought it was because of Baldwin's celebrity status, political connections and wealth. I'm cynical, and think it's quite possible that Baldwin walks away from this without ever stepping into a courthouse. Far stranger things have happened.
But there is a legitimate reason prosecutors may have made this move. I won't speculate on what additional facts the investigation uncovered, but they could be substantial. Maybe the recent findings damage Baldwin's defense and lead to fresh charges. It's also possible they shift more blame onto the armorer.
I find it interesting that the evidence didn't lead prosecutors to clear Baldwin. Time will reveal if those words hinted at anything.
What I Think—
Even though police have been rather transparent with evidence, there is still a lot we don't know. You couldn't send a postcard with what my opinion on the case is worth. However, when someone is willfully negligent and especially when that leads to someone's death, we want to believe our system of justice will hold that person accountable, and the punishment would not be more or less than what is appropriate.
Unlike Alec Baldwin, we think Americans should own firearms if they want to. And unlike Baldwin, we take firearm safety and training seriously. Constitutional carry laws are on the books in 27 states. We don't think the government should mandate training as. requirement to carry a gun, but we think it's more important than ever to encourage individual responsibility in learning to handle and use a firearm properly.
It's About Individual Responsibility—
We have a free, online, firearm safety course that you should check out if it's been a while or you're just getting into gun ownership. Also, consider checking out Guardian University. As a member, you get access to hundreds of hours of our many online training courses that cover a wide-variety of topics related to firearms and self/home defense.