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Why are actors using real guns on movie sets? The cinematographer Halyna Hutchins was killed last week when Alec Baldwin fired a gun that he was reportedly told was cold - or unloaded. Here's NPR's Joe Hernandez.
JOE HERNANDEZ, BYLINE: When Bryan W. Carpenter walks onto a film or TV set, he's got one overriding thought in mind.
BRYAN W CARPENTER: Safety is never redundant.
HERNANDEZ: Carpenter is what's known in the entertainment industry as an armorer. He's the guy who is responsible for any firearms onset, making sure they're safe to use. To him, that means even a quick examination between takes just to be sure the gun hasn't broken or changed in any way.
CARPENTER: And I try to do it fast and effective because I will work with production as much as possible. And you learn this after, you know, years of doing this. But - and everybody's like, why did you just check that again? I was like, I'm going to check it each and every time.
HERNANDEZ: Carpenter also works with the director and crew to make sure the scenes involving guns are filmed in a safe way. For example, one actor isn't supposed to point a gun at another even if it's loaded with blanks. Carpenter, who also does actual firearms training, says he's even got different vehicles for his film and TV jobs.
CARPENTER: Because I don't even want a random round to be stuck in between a seat or fall into a bag or anything of that nature.
HERNANDEZ: Still, with real guns on sets, there's always a risk. The entertainment world lacks a national safety standard for guns, says Dan Leonard, associate dean of Chapman University's film school. Leonard told Weekend Edition Sunday that larger studios have the budgets and qualified staff to handle guns properly.
DAN LEONARD: But particularly, in independent filmmaking, they're trying to make things in the least expensive way as possible. And oftentimes, not all the procedures that are put in place for safety have been followed.
HERNANDEZ: And the reason filmmakers use actual guns at all? Realism.
LEONARD: There are many now that don't use real weapons, that do it all in post. And then there are filmmakers that want the sort of realism and the reaction of the live.
HERNANDEZ: But that may be changing after Hutchins' death. The ABC police drama "The Rookie" told staff on Friday that it would stop using real guns on set, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Another showrunner tweeted a pledge to only use special effects muzzle flashes going forward. An online petition to ban guns from Hollywood already has thousands of signatures. So while some are calling for stricter standards, others say the only way to avoid another death is to remove real guns from sets altogether.
Joe Hernandez, NPR News.
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