Real guns have no place in Hollywood

Lily Hemmeter, Staff Writer

On Oct. 21, 2021, cinematographer Halyna Hutchins was shot and killed on set for the movie “Rust”. The worst part about the situation was that her death was completely avoidable. She died because the gun supplier for the movie sent live rounds instead of blanks and dummies. The creators of the movie who decided to use real guns in the first place should be held accountable rather than the actor who shot the supposedly blank gun. 

Movie sets are not real; they are mere illusions. So why should prop weapons have the ability to result in the realest of consequences—death? They shouldn’t. But they can, and they do because some directors are willing to risk the safety of their cast and crew just to have more authentic gunshots in their movies or TV shows. They insist that firing blanks, which contain only gunpowder, produce a better flash when the gun is shot and result in better reactions from the actors. But in a time where it is entirely possible to fake a gunshot with computer editing in post-production, this reasoning is unacceptable. No one complains when green screens or CGI are used to enhance movies, so why should edited gunshots be any different? Many directors have been using this technique in place of real guns to prioritize safety over authenticity, and they see the trade-off as a no-brainer. Unfortunately, using real guns on set is still very much the norm.

While it would be nice to see more directors embrace the magic of technology, that is unlikely to happen without the passing of new laws. Following Halyna’s death, a petition was created on that is advocating for just that. The petition, which has amassed over 100,000 signatures and counting, introduces “Halyna’s Law” as a way to ban real guns from sets and demand better working conditions in the film industry—another concern on the set of “Rust” where crew members were overworked and had to drive 50 miles to the filming location each morning. The volume of support for this petition shows that people want to see change. The only way to prevent tragedies like this from happening in the future is by holding lawmakers and film industry leaders responsible for facilitating this change. 

I can’t reiterate enough that movies exist to entertain—not to kill. Filming a movie is not inherently dangerous, but when overworked and even careless crew members are handling real weapons on set, accidents are inevitable. Hopefully people will learn from the “Rust” tragedy that no level of cinematic authenticity is worth risking human lives.