The Unloaded Gun

Discussion in 'General Gun Discussions' started by Kleanbore, Oct 23, 2021.

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  1. armydog

    armydog Member

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    The Dukes of Hazzard is my all time favorite show. I loved their dynamite stick arrows. And mostly comical violence... people didnt really get hurt. And how about the A Team?.. if no one got hurt in that show back then there is pretty much no excuse these days. lol
     
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  2. Shawn Dodson

    Shawn Dodson Member

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    Baldwin delegated his personal responsibility for gun safety to someone else. Hopefully he'll learn that that's not possible and he's solely responsible for what happened and will held accountable.

    It clearly wasn't a "prop gun". It was a real gun being used as a prop.

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    Last edited: Oct 26, 2021
  3. bassjam

    bassjam Member

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    Like I already said, it's unreasonable to train an actor how to realistically and safely handle every item/prop/procedure/activity they are involved with while filming. We focus on firearms here because "gasp" it's a firearms forum and this stuff is hopefully second nature to us. To an actor it's just a prop (which in most cases it is a non-functional prop). That's why there's other people who are paid to keep track of the safety for them. We also know to never point a weapon, even completely unloaded, at something we don't want to destroy. To an actor on a western film pointing a weapon at someones head and pulling the trigger is just part of several days of filming. The "firearms safety" rules don't directly apply on a movie set.
     
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  4. Neo-Luddite

    Neo-Luddite Member

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    I'll own up to it here, among my online gun nut peers of long-standing; when I was 14 I was messing with my brand new Ruger 10/22---aiming at my own reflection in an antique 'shaving mirror' on my bedroom wall---a gift from my antique-selling older cousin. I cycled the bolt, aimed at my face and--BLAMMO! The more-than 1/4" thick old silvered glass popped and a Winchester 38gr HP went through my room's drywall behind and made a curious "nipple" in the wall of the bedroom next door. My Mom was downstairs---the not-very-gun friendly person who purchased the 10/22 on my behalf after much lobbying by me---me pointing out my recent Boy Scout training in state Hunter Safety Education and Rifle & Shotgun Merit Badge. Mom asked what that was...was that a REAL bullet? I owned up. I promised and have followed through ever since. Never Again an ND on my watch. To her credit, my Mom didn't remove the rifle from my control. I turned 50 this July and my Mom passed last March at age 89. She lived long enough to help raise her two Granddaughters who grew up next door to her...now aged (almost) 17 and 19. And Mom never-much-liked but always praised them for their progress in the shooting sports---each receiving a Cricket for her 5th Birthday---me never clouding the discipline of safe gun instruction with toys or even BB guns at younger ages---each completing IL State Hunter Safety (along with me--repeating the course) 7 years ago. They both received Colt 6920s from me five years years ago---with mags, tools and ammo to last for a while if need be. Mom understood my larger point; I was raising independent women and not girls--- who be counted on to take care of themselves no matter what. And who would never trust the condition of a weapon handed to her that she herself did not personally inspect---even if it came from my hands, or greater ones.

    I am somewhat tongue-in-cheek and sacrilegious; If G-d doesn't have a messed us sense of humor I am doomed. In my 'gun closet' hangs a horrible painting of Christ looking toward heaven rendered on dark blue velvet. It is more like a cartoon than a painting, anyway. My Brother-in-Law bought it at a yard sale and I ended up with it. The quote I put below-rendered by old-school 3M label maker/embosser is; "Jesus Loves You---CHECK THE CHAMBER!".

    Sorry I took a long digression tangentially connected to the subject at hand. I guess Mr. Baldwin will have to finally decide in this moment---him being a man of an older age especially, if he is a boy or a man; if he will stand up and accept primary responsibility for the horrors that he unleashed via a REAL GUN used as a prop that was in his hand or if he will allow others to diffuse and obscure the responsibility for various procedural reasons predicated upon the usual standard practices for handling a "prop gun" on a movie set. The standard in their industry MUST come into line with anything that the BSA or the NRA would sanction and practice...if you are receiving the weapon to use on set YOU must check and know its condition and own the same. Nothing else---no law or rule---will ever suffice.
     
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  5. Paul7

    Paul7 Member

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    And even he once had a negligent discharge.
     
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  6. TomJ
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    TomJ Contributing Member

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    I'll have to agree to disagree with this. They don't need to explain every item, only the ones that can kill someone. As I stated before there's no reason to have a real gun on a movie set today given how easily special effects can be made to create whatever it is they're doing, but if they are going to use real guns, which again they shouldn't, it's IMO unreasonable not to take a few minutes to explain the four rules of gun safety to anyone who'll handle the gun. Those rules are not difficult to understand and given the consequences of not explaining them there's no reason not to. They didn't bother to do so, and not for the first time someone in that industry is dead because of it.
     
  7. armydog

    armydog Member

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    Absolutely ridiculous. Laws still apply whether your an actor on or off the set.

    If that made any sense there would already be a law in place that protected them. Know of any?
     
    Last edited: Oct 26, 2021
  8. Ivy Mike

    Ivy Mike Member

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    I am a union stagehand (IATSE Local 720) and while I have never been an armorer for a movie, I have been on prop crews and I do have some working knowledge of these things.
    A lot of people are saying that the actor should check the gun before doing anything with it, but you are making some assumptions that don't always work in certain special circumstances; a movie set being one of them. This is not your local shooting range or your favorite spot in the boonies. This isn't your home. In all of these places, you are dealing with live ammunition, meaning an actual cartridge with primer, powder and bullet. If you put said live ammo in a gun and pull the trigger, you expect it to send a bullet down range. The 4 rules were written with this situation in mind. Very few people have blanks kicking around or simunitions or inert rounds vs actual live ammo. You conduct yourself in a very particular way making sure that the muzzle doesn't flag anyone and is always pointed in a safe direction. You know that when you step away from the firing line with your weapon, it should have been checked at least once and if possible, left open to verify to others that it is rendered incapable of firing (open bolt on a rifle, slide locked back on a pistol, etc) without deliberate action. YOU are the one responsible for the condition of your weapon an its safe operation at all times.

    A movie set is a different animal. An actor may or may not have any practical firearms experience. The crew may have very little experience with firearms. This is why a studio will hire an armorer. They need a gun scene, so they do the responsible thing and hire an expert whose sole job is to handle the firearms and ammunition. When it comes to guns on set, the armorer is God and his/her word is gospel. It is not practical to teach and train every actor the ins and outs of gun safety. The last thing an armorer wants is an untrained person popping their gun open and dicking around with a bumbling safety check.
    Could you imagine a scene from one of the Avengers movies where a crowd of 20 special ops guys have AR15s and pistols? OK, now you realize that the possibility for actors to flag themselves and others during a chaotic scene is immense. The possibility for accidents is very real. This is why there are likely no real guns in such a scene. They would all have props. Props are handled by the property (prop) master and would include fake guns. Real guns, even blank firing replicas would be handled solely by the armorer and assistant armorers.
    Why do I lay out the difference here? Because the armorer is tasked with safely handling the few main actors in the scene who might actually have real guns loaded with live ammo.
    LIVE AMMO YOU SAY!!! Yes. Live ammo means something different on a set. A blank or simunition is live ammo. A gun loaded with said live ammo would be called a hot gun. If I am an armorer and I have to hand an actor a hot gun, the last thing I want this untrained person to do, is begin opening the slide or cylinder and poking around trying to verify for themselves the condition of the gun. This is why I was hired, to handle the guns. The actor is hired to stand there in a fedora and pinstripe suit, deliver a line about gangster stuff and pull the trigger on an old fashioned looking six-gun delivering the execution-style shot to the forehead of the snitch.
    Of course, recoil impulse can be hard to fake. Actual muzzle flash and smoke up close can be added in post-production, but the real thing looks better. So how do I as the armorer handle this? By loading a smokey blank in a real gun, verifying that everything is ready to go and when it's time to roll, declaring HOT GUN and handing the gun to the actor. The actor delivers the line, aims at the camera and pulls the trigger one time, discharging the sole blank in the gun. The other 5 "rounds" in the gun are actually inert and are just there so you don't see daylight through the cylinder bores.
    Director cuts and I retrieve the gun from the actor, clear it and declare COLD GUN. Then, and only then, after I declare cold gun and have secured the firearm from the actor, will the crew begin changing the scene for another shot. The entire time the actor had the gun, there was nobody around the field of fire. The camera would have been the only thing in the field of fire at the time, and I as the armorer would have seen to that. This is why you hire an actual armorer, because actor's jobs are to have gunplay. They literally have to play make-believe with guns. If we can get away with not using real guns or using inactivated guns (the armorer will still check these) that cannot be loaded, then we will. It saves money and time if a rubber gun will work.
    But no studio is going to entrust an actor to handle the safety of a firearm on set any more than you would trust an actor to make a structural weld on a building, even though they might have played a welder on TV once. You hire a professional and turn the reins over to them. You don't load a magazine full of blanks, hand the firearm to the actor and give them a 2 day crash course in gun handling. You as the armorer handle the gun and ammo in such a manner as to make it nigh impossible for the actor to do anything to actually put someone in danger.

    So, in summation, movie make-believe is different from real life. The way guns are handled is different. Gun safety, while crucial, is handled differently. Live ammo means anything with powder in it. Real ammo like we'd buy in a store, should NEVER EVER EVER be brought to a set. There are different ways of making inert cartridges that cannot fire. One is simply to buy empty brass, don't prime it, don't add powder and seat a bullet in it. You can even drop a BB in the case so that a quick shake will yield an audible rattle so you know you've got an inert round. The other is repeat the process but instead of a BB in the case, you drill a series of small holes in the case, indicating that it can't be fired. The second one is good if you don't want a rattling gun in your scene. Any armorer who allows real ammunition on their set is negligent. Anyone who sneaks real ammo near a set is also negligent. You can go have real target practice at real ranges with real range officers and never have to put cast or crew in danger.

    I'd be happy to answer any questions you might have.

    -edit- Here are the rules and some guidelines for handling guns on a set. They are fairly expansive but you'll also find the 4 Rules among them.
    https://www.safetyontheset.com/resources/amptp-bulletins/
     
    Last edited: Oct 26, 2021
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  9. bassjam

    bassjam Member

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    Any and all of those 4 rules can and will need to be broken during the filming process. Training would be very different on set, maybe telling the difference between a dummy round and a blank.


    Rediculous? lol, who said laws don't apply? I'm pretty sure this being a homicide was ruled out by the authorities pretty quickly.
     
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  10. bassjam

    bassjam Member

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    Thanks for posting, it's nice to have a real-world first hand explanation.
     
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  11. MEHavey

    MEHavey Member

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    > "Never meddle with old unloaded firearms; they are the most
    > deadly and unerring things that ever have been created by man. . . .
    > A youth, who can't hit a cathedral at 30 yards with a cannon in
    > three-quarters of an hour, can take up an old empty musket
    > and bag his grandmother every time at a hundred." (sc)

    .
     
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  12. armydog

    armydog Member

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    Homicide ruled out?.... are you saying this is not a homicide? You must mean Murder.

    Baldwin might not be the most technically and tactically proficient actor who handles props or real fitearms, but even he has a responsibility in this process...his life could be at stake. Do I think he committed murder? No.
     
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  13. desmobob

    desmobob Member

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    I know this... if someone handed me a firearm and told me it was unloaded and then I pointed it at a person, pulled the trigger, and it killed them, I'd be charged with manslaughter (and rightly so). Why shouldn't actors have the same standards of behavior?
     
  14. Kleanbore

    Kleanbore Moderator Staff Member

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    What you said was, "I can't really expect an actor to go become an expert with any tool he/she handles...".

    Have you not understood the replies?

    You would not get far in trying to persuade a jury that has already been instructed to the contrary by a judge that it would be '"unreasonable" for a person handling an instrument known to be dangerous to do so while exercising due caution. If death or injury occurs, failure would be a felony. When it comes to safe handling of firearms on set, the universal rules apply, with some special provisions that relate to the use of blank cartridges and to the use of props that are pointed at persons.

    Baldwin may not be charged as the shooter in his recent case--the charging authority has that prerogative--but based on the facts known, it appears that he is guilty of manslaughter.

    By the way, according to case law in New Mexico, it doesn't matter who loaded the gun or who gave it to him.
     
  15. theotherwaldo

    theotherwaldo Member

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    If that same actor got into a stunt car without knowing how to drive and proceeded to mow down half of the crew, would that actor be innocent?
    If the actor is ignorant about handling any dangerous device then he shouldn't be handling that dangerous device.
    If the actor is also the director and hires incompetent and careless crew members that put a dangerous device in his incompetent hands then is he still innocent?
    I doubt it... .
     
  16. Odd Job

    Odd Job Moderator Staff Member

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    The four rules cannot always apply, because the nature of the scene may make it impossible. If you want the four rules to apply, here's what will happen:

    1) Any prop gun capable of chambering a cartridge must be treated the same as a real gun, whether loaded with blanks or not
    2) There can be no filming of a blank-firing prop gun where that gun is aimed towards a camera. Violates the "do not intend to destroy" rule
    3) There can be no filming of a blank-firing prop gun where that gun is not aimed towards a berm or bullet trap. Violates the "be sure of your target and beyond" rule
    4) There can be no filming of any scene where the actor's finger is on the trigger and point (3) above is not satisfied
    5) There can be no filming of a blank-firing prop gun where that gun is aimed at a hard surface, the sky, the floor, or any other props. Violates the "be sure of your target and beyond" rule
    6) There can be no filming of a blank-firing prop gun where any crew are "down range" of the gun in such a position that a badly-aimed shot, an errant shot or a malfunctioning gun could result in injury to the crew

    So that leaves us with a different set of rules. Rules more lenient, based on the premise that the gun cannot fire a projectile. The fact that it cannot fire a projectile is confirmed by a responsible person on set who will check the gun and vouch that it is either empty or is loaded only with blanks. They would have to check that there is no bore obstruction and that the gun is in good working order, otherwise you could get a situation where a dirt plug in the barrel of a dropped gun, or piece of another prop or a piece of the prop gun itself, could become a projectile.

    Whoever did the checks would have to be able to exclude all that, and know how to look at all the variables associated with that.

    In my opinion, to expect the actor to do that kind of check prior to every scene involving a blank-firing gun is unreasonable. Besides, when he has taken all the ammo out of the gun, checked it (and the gun) and then reloaded the gun, who checks that the actor did it properly? Who verifies that the gun can be fired safely? It ends up back in the hands of the person in charge of that equipment, otherwise there is another layer of liability.

    It's not that he didn't know how to shoot, he unfortunately did!
    The correct analogy would be if the stunt car was improperly set-up and either had the wrong fuel or some other kind of problem that made it dangerous. If that car then exploded and sent a wheel through the head of the director, the actor would not be responsible.

    Somewhere on a dragster forum, those members would be livid, saying it is common knowledge that you check the fuel, the connections, the integrity of the chassis and so on, before any race. They would say the actor was an idiot entrusting that basic function to someone else.
     
  17. BobABQ

    BobABQ Member

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    I am very curious to see the Chain of Custody for this firearm. I am not an expert on making movies but from what I have read, and it makes sense to me, the armorer is the only person who gives the firearm to the actor and then the actor hands it back to the armorer after the scene is filmed.
    My question is why did the director hand Baldwin the handgun? Did the director go into the armory and retrieve the weapon and why did anyone other than the armorer have access? The Chain of Custody will be interesting to see.
     
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  18. theotherwaldo

    theotherwaldo Member

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    It's fairly obvious that normal standards and procedures were not followed at this job site.
    Under circumstances like this, the supervisor is the person that is responsible for seeing that proper procedures are followed.
    It is my understanding that the director is the supervisor on the set, even if he is also one of the actors.
    Correct me if I'm wrong.
     
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  19. The Last Outlaw

    The Last Outlaw Member

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    The guy that gave him the gun pulled it off of a cart.
     
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  20. kneedtospeed

    kneedtospeed Member

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    Any Prop, that has the Potential, as this one Obviously Did, to cause damage, needs to be handled only by Qualified persons, all the way through the chain of custody, including actors.
    I can not believe it is “not in the budget” to get these multi millionaires trained to handle the tools they chose to make their living with! Apply that to any other dangerous trade or career. Further more, with the capabilities of todays special effects, they could be holding a cucumber, and super impose any firearm needed into their hand, complete with smoke, flash, and noise.
    The 4 Rules Always apply.

    He shot 2 persons, ultimately Killing 1
     
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  21. Ivy Mike

    Ivy Mike Member

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    If this ends up being the case, this is also a serious violation of industry rules that govern these things. The armorer or prop master who is acting as the weapons master (and their assistants) is responsible for every gun on the set. When not in use, they are to be securely stored. In every scene I've ever been involved in, this is an actual gun safe. The armorer has their own safe and their own work area. When a gun is needed, the armorer takes it out of the safe and usually tags it out. Then they prep it at the work area and when it's time to actually roll and everyone is in places, the armorer calls out HOT GUN and everyone stays where they are. The armorer hands the prepped gun to the actor, clears the field of fire and then director starts the cameras.
    Scene finishes and everyone waits for the armorer to collect the gun and call COLD GUN. Then they can proceed with their work.

    If the armorer left the gun unattended, it's a serious breach of rules. If an AD grabbed the gun, it is also a serious breach. And these are trade organizations that set up these rules, so there is a good chance that the armorer who fouled this up so badly, won't work again any time soon.

    The armorer is the ONLY one responsible for the guns and ammo and they must be securely stored when not in use. It's quite literally the only job they have; safe handling of the guns.
     
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  22. Ivy Mike

    Ivy Mike Member

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    If the FX crew prepping the stunt car told the actor it was safe to hop in, then the actor wouldn't be entirely at-fault for the accident. The actor had a reasonable expectation that the car wouldn't take off and mow down a line of people because the professionals in charge of the car told him/her it was safe.
    Alec Baldwin is not a weapons expert and judging by his history, I doubt he's much of a shooter. It's probably not a hobby of his.
    So when an expert who is hired SOLELY to wrangle the guns leaves one out and someone hands Baldwin the gun and tells him its safe, he has reason to believe this is the case. The reason is that firearms are carefully monitored and regulated on-set. You don't just leave them around. They don't get brought out until it's time for their use and someone who has been around movie guns as long as Baldwin, would have years of experience only being handed a real gun when its time to shoot a scene.
    Furthermore, his experience on set would tell him that real ammunition is not going to be something he will find lying around. You NEVER bring live ammo to a set, ever. There is no reason to ever do so and if I picked up a round while I was working and noticed a real primer in the thing, I would go into a minor panic looking for the armorer to show them what I found. It's never OK to bring real live ammo to a set.

    Now, the rules of firearms on set also dictate that you are never supposed to point a gun, blanks or otherwise, at a person. If a scene requires such a thing, you don't just roll into it without consulting the prop master or the armorer. This is what fake gun props are for. So, Baldwin may bear some culpability here as well. It's hard to say.
     
    Last edited: Oct 27, 2021
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  23. The Last Outlaw

    The Last Outlaw Member

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  24. RetiredUSNChief

    RetiredUSNChief Member

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    Lots of great advice, and a lot of good stories.

    But I'd like to point out a quirk of human psychology that many don't think about, or even realize exists.

    The human mind has a great propensity to see what it wants to see, to fill in blanks and data with what it wants to see.

    This is unconscious behavior.

    Perhaps you may even have heard a story where someone checked their gun and SAW that it was empty...only to tragically find out that it really wasn't.

    EVERYBODY has had moments like this with one thing or another in their lives.


    Here's a personal story concerning the tagout system on one of my old boats while I was in the Navy.

    The tagout system is a zero-defect system whereby electrical and mechanical systems are placed in a safe condition and red tags hung on various isolation components such as switches, fuses, valves, etc. to indicate they are not to be manipulated/altered/etc.

    "Zero-defect system" means defects or deficiencies are not tolerated and any which are found requires immediate and strict action for personnel and equipment safety and may require work stoppage and an audit of the entire system to ensure there are no other deficiencies.

    It has to be this way or people can end up getting killed or seriously injured working on equipment that isn't actually electrically or mechanically safe.


    My story involves hanging a red danger tag on a breaker to isolate some equipment. I was familiar with the equipment, so I knew what I was doing.

    I went to the breaker, held the tag next to the breaker label and word-for-word verified I had the correct breaker. Opened the breaker, hung the tag on it, signed the tag, signed the paperwork, then passed the paperwork on to someone else to second check.

    The second checker located the tagged breaker and discovered I had hung the tag on the wrong breaker.

    BUT I CLEARLY REMEMBERED READING BOTH THE TAG AND THE BREAKER LABEL AND VERIFIED THEM TO BE IDENTICAL. In fact, I could recite the words because I literally could still visualize them in my mind at the time.

    I was not a novice at this, either. And I fully understood the gravity of the tagout system.

    I saw what I EXPECTED to see and not what was actually there.


    My point to this is that personal visual inspection of a firearm should STILL leave you with a bit of trepidation when it comes to pointing it places it shouldn't be and/or placing your finger on the trigger.

    There are several times when pulling the trigger on an empty gun may be required. Field stripping a Glock. Dry fire practice. Function check after reassembly.

    The mind is a wondrous thing, and tricky as well. Always keep that in mind and be safe.
     
  25. Carl N. Brown

    Carl N. Brown Member

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    Now the story is that the assistant director who told Baldwin the gun was unloaded was involved in a previous incident on another movie where he handed an actor a "unloaded" gun that wasn't unloaded.
     
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