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Safety tips from the shooting range following 'Rust' prop gun tragedy

Cinematographer Halyna Hutchins died Thursday after Alec Baldwin fired a loaded weapon that was handed to him by an assistant director on the set.

ROSEVILLE, Calif. — Cinematographer Halyna Hutchins died Thursday after Alec Baldwin fired a loaded weapon that was handed to him by an assistant director who indicated it was safe to use on the New Mexico set of “Rust.” Director Joel Souza was also hit and injured but has since been released from the hospital. 

The sheriff’s department is investigating and many things are still unknown. On movie sets, weapons masters are in charge of the weapons and must be present when a weapon is being used. And according to guidelines of the Actors’ Equity Association, firearms must be loaded by the prop master, armorer or experienced persons working under their direct supervision.

Chris Van Andel, Operations Manager at Placer Sporting Club, has decades of experience with almost every type of gun. He explained to ABC10 some of the safety considerations specific to the type of gun used on the set of "Rust." Since the movie being shot falls into the Western genre, he described the gun as a replica Colt 1873 Peacemaker.

"You never put your finger on a trigger until you're ready to fire it," Van Andel said. "Also, you're never pointing a gun at someone until you are sure of what that target is and it's safe and you're absolutely willing to destroy the target."

As for telling the difference between blanks and live ammunition, he said without physically looking at the rounds, there's not a 100% safe way of knowing that is in the gun. 

"If I were in that scene, I would want to load the revolver myself," Van Andel said.

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