Here’s how an armorer says guns should be handled on sets

Dan Abrams Live

NEW YORK (NewsNation Now) — An armorer says what happened on the set of Alec Baldwin’s “Rust” movie before the fatal shooting is “extremely” unusual and describes the proper process when handling weapons.

“There should never be a case where an AD (assistant director) touches a weapon,” Clay Van Sickle, an expert who has overseen firearm safety on a host of different productions, said on Dan Abrams Live.

Dave Halls, the assistant director for the movie “Rust,” unwittingly handed Baldwin a loaded weapon and told him it was safe to use in the moments before the actor fatally shot a cinematographer last week, court records show. 

“There should be an uninterrupted chain of custody from the armorer straight to the talent and back,” Van Sickle said.

Van Sickle demonstrated how to check that a single-axle revolver is empty, a process he says is the same for an antique gun.

“We open the cylinder and rotate through all six cylinders so you can clearly see that they are empty and that there is no brass inside there,” Van Sickle said.

The next step in the process is going to the first assistant director, who is the primary safety officer on the set, and allowing them to visually inspect the weapon.

“At that point, they will call it out to the crew, they will call it out on the radio, that there’s a cold gun on set at that time,” Van Sickle said. “Any member of the crew or the cast that would like to look at that gun and confirm for themselves that it’s empty could do so.”

Then, the armorer should walk over to the actor and confirm with them that the gun is cold.

“Once that’s done, I double-check with camera and any other crew members that may be in the area,” Van Sickle said. “And once that’s all done, then I can hand it off to the actor.”

Van Sickle says if the chain of custody breaks, that’s when there could be problems.

“So as long as the armorer controls everything from beginning to the end, there’s only one person to go back to,” Van Sickle said.

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