Misfire

“You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”
-Inigo Montoya

I keep seeing stories about the Alec Baldwin homicide that insist the gun “misfired”.

The prop gun misfired, according to Deadline, when Baldwin was holding it on the New Mexico set of the movie “Rust.” According to the Santa Fe New Mexican, Baldwin was questioned by authorities and seen in tears. The newspaper reported that authorities were trying “to determine if the incident was an accident.”

According to Merriam Webster online:

mis·​fire | \ ˌmis-ˈfī(-ə)r , ˈmis-ˌfī(-ə)r \
Definition of misfire (Entry 1 of 2)
intransitive verb

1: to have the explosive or propulsive charge fail to ignite at the proper time
“the engine misfired”

2: to fail to fire
“the gun misfired”

3: to miss an intended effect or objective
“the new ad campaign misfired”

Definition of misfire (Entry 2 of 2)
noun
1: a failure (as of a cartridge or firearm) to fire
2: something that misfires

They’re trying to use a term that minimizes Alec Baldwin’s blame in the incident.

The fact is, the gun did the opposite of misfire, It did not fail to fire, it operated properly: Alec Baldwin pulled the trigger, the primer ignited, which ignited the powder, which created rapidly expanding gasses that propelled the projectile down the barrel, which traveled at a high rate of speed in the direction in which the muzzle was pointed, which then impacted the objects (people in this case) in that direction.

It is the responsibility of the wielder of the weapon to ensure they do so safely, it is not a “misfire” when the gun did what it was designed to do. It’s no different than if he just started randomly swinging a sword without checking to make sure no one was in the way and hacked off someone’s head.

According to CBS:

As a film crew and actors in Western garb prepared to rehearse a scene inside a wooden, chapel-like building on a desert movie ranch outside Santa Fe, assistant director Dave Halls stepped outside and grabbed a prop gun off a cart.

He walked back in and handed it to the film’s star, Alec Baldwin, assuring him it was safe to use because it didn’t have live ammo.

“Cold gun,” Halls yelled.

There is plenty of blame to go around. Why was there even any live ammunition on the site? That’s the responsibility of whoever brought it, probably one of the armorers. Why wasn’t the gun checked for ammunition (live or blank) before it was placed on the prop cart? Why didn’t the assistant director check and verify the condition of the gun when he picked it up from the cart? Why did he tell Alec Baldwin it was a cold gun when he handed it over, without having checked it himself?

But ultimately, the blame lies with the one who pulled the trigger.

NRA rule #1: Always keep the muzzle pointed in safe direction

Jeff Cooper rules #1: All guns are always loaded
                             #2: Never let the muzzle cover anything you are not willing to destroy

Alec Baldwin had the responsibility to verify the condition of the gun he was handed regardless of what he was told. Even failing that, he had the responsibility to treat the firearm as if it was loaded. The “Industry Wide Labor Management Safety Committee” even published a bulletin with that sentiment in the very first, bolded, paragraph.

Had Alec Baldwin fulfilled his responsibilities with respect to gun safety, it wouldn’t have mattered whether the gun was cold, hot, or room temperature. The worst thing that would have happened would have been the gun goes “bang”, the bullet flies off in the “safe direction”, everyone is shocked, the armoror is fired and they all go about their business of making a movie.

In fact, according to some of the recent stories (a couple of them linked above) this had already happened twice on the set. A “cold” gun wasn’t cold and went “bang” when it should have gone “click”.

The armorers should have been fired already. But it took Alec Baldwin’s negligence to wake them up to the dangers. Too bad a talented young cinematographer had to die to drive that lesson home.

The Navy has a saying “Naval regulations are written in blood”. The point being that we learn from our mistakes and establish regulations to prevent them from happening again.

Too bad anti-gun Hollywood actors don’t take those words of wisdom to heart.

I blame Alec Baldwin.  In my humble opinion, he is guilty of negligent homicide.  But he’s one of the “elite” to whom the laws for the little people don’t apply, so it will all be written off as “an accident” where that evil gun just “misfired” and killed an innocent person.   What a shame.

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