Alec Baldwin's on set shot: What is a prop gun and how dangerous is it?

Alec Baldwin's on set shot: What is a prop gun and how dangerous is it?

Following the awful tragedy that happened on the film, Rust's set.

Prop gun

The news of the death of cinematographer., Halyna Hutchins following an 'accident' on set have been devastating globally. Whilst filming 'Rust', 63-year-old actor Alec Baldwin shot at her and also left the director Joel Souza injured. 

Investigations later showed an assistant director, Dave Halls, had handed the gun to Baldwin. It contained a live round but Mr Halls said he did not know that, and indicated it was unloaded by shouting "cold gun" before rolling.

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So, everyone is wondering how did the gun  even have ammunition if it's a 'prop' gun? 

Let's delve into what exactly a prop gun is...

What is a prop gun?

A prop gun in this case is the gun used on a film/stage set for sake of standing in and representing a real live gun. It could mean a range of items, from a non-functioning weapon to a cap guns. But it also mean a real live gun adapted for firing blanks.

What are blanks? 

They are used in the film industry to imitate live ammunition. 

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So, the guns you see in films/series are usually just shooting blanks. They are convincing, yes because they are just a modified version of real bullets. The difference is the mechanics of it using explosive and not a projectile like a real gun.

So when one fires a blank using a prop gun, they will get a loud bang, a recoil and what's known as a muzzle flash - the visible light created by the combustion of the powder.

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The danger here is is that even without a projectile blanks pack enormous power usually to make the visuals and the sound amazing and believable.

Can they be used safely? 

Short answer, yes. 

"You never point a gun, even if it is not a firing gun, at anyone else," Mike Tristano, an armourer who has worked with Alec Baldwin shared. 

"If you are in the line of fire... You would have a face mask, you would have goggles, you would stand behind a Perspex screen, and you would minimise the number of people by the camera, " he said.

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Others working in film wondered why, at a time when gun effects can be cheaply added using computers, blanks are still being used at all.

"The details are unclear at this moment, but we are working to learn more, and we support a full investigation into this tragic event. This is a terrible loss, and we mourn the passing of a member of our Guild’s family," the statement, reported by Variety, said.

For more regarding this incident:

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