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Here's what movie armorers look for to ensure crew safety

Production crews are reevaluating safety measures after a deadly shooting on the set of the movie "Rust" involving Alec Baldwin.

TUCSON, Ariz. — Amos Carver is an armorer in Tucson who has worked for movie productions around the world. Part of his job is to provide the guns and ammunition, and the other part is to make sure they're handled safely.

After the accident in Albuquerque that killed Director of Photography Halyna Hutchins and injured the director on the set of the movie Rust, many productions are taking closer looks at their safety measures.

Here's what Carver says armorer should look for. 


"The standard protocols are, no live ammo on set, obviously," Carver said.

By "live ammo" he means ammunition that contains a bullet inside the shell casing. If a gun is meant to really fire on a production, Carver said it should only be firing blanks - a live cartridge with no bullet. 

"All blanks are going to be inspected, all guns are going to be inspected by multiple people," he said. 

Chain of Custody

Carver said he always knows who has handled his guns and what's been done to them. By keeping track of the chain of custody of every gun, he knows what ammunition was loaded and which gun has been checked. 

"The chain of custody that has to take place between your armorer your first AD," Carver said.

That way, when the gun is handed to the Assistant Director (AD), Carver can reliably tell him that the gun is "hot", meaning it has a live round in it, or "cold," meaning there's no ammunition in it at all. 

RELATED: Baldwin was told gun was 'cold' before movie set shooting

Safe Handling

Movie guns are no different than regular guns, Carver said. And they should be treated that way. 

"Never point a gun at something that you don't intend to shoot," Carver said. "And that goes for blank guns, it goes for toy guns, it goes for real guns."

Carver said that means if guns are going to be used in a fight, camera tricks can make them seem like they're pointing at people, but in reality, they're pointing away. 

Sometimes, armorers supply airsoft guns that look real, but only fire plastic pellets. The muzzle flashes you see in movies can be added digitally later. 

Other industry professionals told 12 News if a script called for an actor to aim a gun at the camera, the safest thing to do is press the record button and walk away, giving the actor a clear space in front of them.

RELATED: 'Incredible talent': Woman shot by Alec Baldwin on film set remembered as gifted cinematographer

Corners Can Be Cut

Sometimes, Carver said, there can be pressure to cut corners, especially when film productions are over budget and running long on time. 

“You’re costing money and saying 'no' costs money," Carver said. "And costing money will get you fired in certain situations.”

But, Carver said, a good armorer will stand their ground, no matter how much pressure comes their way. 

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