Alec Baldwin’s contention in an in-depth interview with ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos that he did not pull the trigger in the accidental shooting death of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins on the New Mexico set of the indie film “Rust” has been met with skepticism from experts.
When asked by TheWrap to assess the likelihood of Baldwin’s statement being true, Steve Wolf, a movie armorer with more than 30 years in the business, said bluntly: “One a scale of one to 10? Zero.”
Added Wolf, “You know, guns don’t go off by themselves, right? It’s an inanimate object. It has no batteries. It has no timer. It has no web connection. It’s not a smart piece of equipment. It’s it’s very reliable device that shoots when you press the trigger, and it doesn’t shoot when you don’t press the trigger.”
Wolf is not the only expert skeptical of Baldwin’s statement in his first in-depth exclusive interview since the Oct. 21 accident that “the trigger wasn’t pulled” when a “live round” was discharged and ended up mortally wounding Hutchins and injuring director Souza in the Oct. 21 tragedy. “No no no. I would never point a gun at anyone and pull the trigger. Never,” Baldwin said. Wolf and others are also questioning why Baldwin took two months to bring up this particular line of defense for his actions.
Baldwin’s claim is also being questioned by the Santa Fe Sheriff’s Department, which told Fox News it is awaiting results from the FBI that would provide more information on how the gun could have been fired, whether that was just pulling back the hammer – which hits the firing pin – just pulling the trigger or both.
“Guns don’t just go off,” Sheriff Adan Mendoza told the news outlet. “So whatever needs to happen to manipulate the firearm, he did that and it was in his hands.”
In a police report soon after the accident, director Joel Souza, who was injured in the shooting, recalled standing over the shoulder of his cinematographer, Hutchins, while Baldwin sat on a wooden church pew, practicing a cross-draw of his weapon, before the director heard what sounded “like a whip and then loud pop.”
Another film set weapons expert who asked not to be named told TheWrap that “it’s a mystery” as to how the gun could mistakenly go off without the deliberate pulling of the trigger. He said that it would take “tremendous” force to release the “little firing cap” that would cause a round to be fired from the gun, so it would be unlikely that it could happen by accident. “Generally, it wouldn’t make sense that this would happen,” the expert said.
However, in this case, Wolf said that the gun in question, widely reported as being an F.LL1 Pietta Long Colt 45 Revolver, is easily discharged and has a very sensitive trigger action. For that reason, he said he believes that Baldwin did in fact fire the gun by pulling the trigger, but may have done so by mistake.
“I believe that he believes what he’s saying, because I don’t believe that he intended to press the trigger,” Wolf said of Baldwin’s statement. “But I also don’t believe that the trigger pressed itself. A single action Colt 45 like that has a very, very light trigger. You know, if you have your finger on the trigger, you can almost think to yourself, ‘shoot’ — and then the gun goes off. But it’s not because you were thinking ‘shoot,’ it’s because you had some muscle tension. And when that increases, it’s sufficient to fire the gun.”
Wolf added that his biggest fear of Baldwin’s statement in this high-profile case is ” if we introduce the idea that guns go off by themselves, this reduces everyone’s responsibility going forward. Anyone who’s ever involved in an accidental shooting can now use the Alec Baldwin defense if it gains any traction, and that’s a really bad thing to do, because it’s untrue. And it takes away personal responsibility, which is the essence of safety.”