NEW MEXICO (KRQE) – It rocked the nation when actor Alec Baldwin fired a prop gun that somehow contained a live bullet while filming the movie ‘Rust’ killing cinematographer Halyna Hutchins and wounding director Joel Souza in 2021. It happened on set at Bonanza Creek Ranch near Santa Fe.
California lawmakers just passed a bill that establishes safety protocols for TV and film workers. It’s in direct response to Hutchins’ death. New Mexico state Senator Cliff Pirtle believes we need similar legislation here. He said, “Movie sets have kind of been allowed to just be the wild west of safety. ”It’s not fair to the families that send their loved ones to work and aren’t sure if they’re going to come home safe.”
Within the legislation, live ammo on a motion picture production, except in limited circumstances, is prohibited. The bill also requires training and safety standards for prop masters and armorers handling firearms.
A local armorer working in the state’s film industry joined the conversation saying he thinks New Mexico armorers should have to qualify for a license. “It’s very important to me that we have safety on the set where nobody gets injured under any circumstance. I really want to push for this legislation to go through here in the state about licensing for the film and TV industry,” Scott Rasmussen shared.
Senator Pirtle says this is not a good look for our state considering lawmakers have failed to pass similar film safety protocols. “I think it sends a very bad message especially whenever our own economic development department and the movie industry is basically wanting to sweep it under the rug as if somebody didn’t pass away from a lack of safety training,” he said.
In 2022, Senator Pirtle introduced a bill that would require all film set personnel who handle firearms to undergo New Mexico’s firearm education course but it didn’t go anywhere. Senator Pirtle explained, “I’ve had many bills through my career that were at the forefront and it’s rejected because people just aren’t willing to make those decisions and then we see other states doing it before us when we should be leading the way.”
KRQE reached out to New Mexico’s Film Office for comment and they wouldn’t say if the state needs legislation similar to California’s. they did say the office will be working to understand the “potential impacts this new California legislation may have on the film industry in New Mexico”.