Earlier today Dana Loesch was kind enough to have me on her show for a few minutes–roughly 15–to talk about the Alec Baldwin shooting death of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins. I wanted to share that with you, so enjoy the video (and the transcript below my signature, for those who prefer to read rather than view).
OK, folks, that’s all I have for you on this topic (except for the transcript below my signature).
Until next time:
You carry a gun so you’re hard to kill.
Know the law so you’re hard to convict.
Attorney Andrew F. Branca
Law of Self Defense LLC
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Loesch And as we’ve been discussing this case, the Baldwin case, with the rust film set, shooting, and there’s been another development in this. Yesterday, I was talking to my friend, Adam Baldwin, you know, from Firefly and Full Metal Jacket and VCs last ship. And he brought up the question as to whether or not COVID protocol contributed to how weapons were handled on set, whether it altered their standard operating procedure for how production handled weaponry. And apparently, according to Deadline, Hollywood, that was that might be the case, at least one of the one of the documents that they published there was talking about the rolling card and how things were changed a little bit in terms of who could be on set, when and all of that. There’s a lot of complexities in this. And we wanted to talk to an actual legal expert who knows a lot more about the legalities of this than we do because you know, we watch just loan order and will pretend to be an attorney. So that’s how it goes. My my friend Andrew Branca he’s so generous with his time and Adam actually had him in my mind before and Adam suggested him, I’m like, that would be perfect. He has an attorney. He specializes in self defense. He’s already written over at the law of self that law of self defense.com. He’s given some of his analysis about this, saying that the Baldwin situation is beginning to look a lot like manslaughter. And he joins us now via Skype. Andrew is such a pleasure. Thank you so much for joining us. Welcome.
Branca Thank you so much for having me. Dana. It’s been a while since we talked last ,I think before we had President Trump, let’s not wait until we have President DeSantis. Before we have a chance to get together again.
Loesch I agree. I agree. I definitely second that. So tell me about this case, because the more details that we’re learning about it, it continued. I mean, I don’t think really much can get worse from a family losing their mother. And of course, you know, the director being injured. Not to diminish that at all. But as the details come out, it really looks like there were a lot of there was a lot of recklessness that was on this set. And from what I understand, a lot of it comes you know, this is kind of top down who was in charge of the film set that producers the production who’s heading that up, you know, they sort of set the tone and the level of responsibility. We we learned that there were two apparently misfires before in the weeks leading up to this that the union crew had walked out because they were complaining repeatedly about safety issues on the set. They had to I know that they had to bring in an armor which I feel it’s unfair to place that the entirety of the blame on that young woman. And that’s I’ll talk to you about that as well. But from everything that we’ve seen, and I’m agreeing with you, I I’m I would be kind of shocked right now, if there weren’t any charges brought against Baldwin in this What is your take from everything that’s publicly available now?
Branca Well, in term in terms of Alec Baldwin’s criminal liability here, for this shooting, it’s not even really a close call. It’s a pretty open and shut case of involuntary manslaughter. He was handling an inherently dangerous instrument, a firearm that has well established rules for safe use, he violated those rules, pointed the gun at a woman press the trigger, killed her without bothering to take the moment it would have taken to make sure that the weapon was clear first, and under New Mexico law, but really under the law of just about any state that’s a blanket act of involuntary manslaughter. And I know people are obfuscating a lot around these events. And there were other factors that you know they had gone right might have prevented this if we had a perhaps a better armor or better safety or there were steps before Adam, sorry, Alec got the gun that might have prevented this, but there’s only one person who absolutely with certainty could have prevented this. And that’s Alec Baldwin when he had that gun in his hand before he pointed it at the woman and press the trigger. He could have taken a moment to check to make sure there was not live ammo in that gun. And to me that’s the decisive factor because it doesn’t matter what else happened before if he had checked the gun, a woman would be alive
Loesch And that’s what it comes down to, talking with our friend Andrew Branca who’s a self defense attorney he knows this very well the laws of this and we’re talking of course about the Baldwin case in the film set received the shooting that took place just towards the end of last week here. It’s an incredibly sad story and even sadder when you see the leading up to this how it could have been prevented with a simple though they might call it a press check and I as I understand we were dealing with revolvers, so he could have just flipped that cylinder open and he kind of just looked at the chambers in that and seeing whether or not and very easy to look and see. You know what it was loaded with. If it was loaded, you could see it and then what it was loaded with. You could see that as well. He has been into he’s 1840 plus your actor, a film veteran, he’s been on sets where they’ve used firearms before Surely he’s gone through this process where they’ve had to check this stuff before kind of, you know, pointed it at people and put your finger on the trigger?
Branca Well, you would think so. But frankly, it doesn’t matter. Because when you’re handling an inherently dangerous instrument, like a gun, the law presumes that you’ve been informed on how to do that safely. And that’s because the laws putting the burden on you. And if you choose not to do that, if you’re actually ignorant of how to safely and it could be a gun, or explosives or dangerous chemicals, or heavy equipment, it’s all the same kind of category for legal purposes. But if you’re handling a gun, the state will presume that you know how to handle it safely. And if you have not acquired that knowledge that’s absolutely on you. You bear the responsibility for that it’s a strict liability paradigm. Yeah. So there’s no excuses. And by the way, that’s not just Alec Baldwin is any of us. We’re both members of the gun community, any of us who are handling guns have we handle them in an unsafe manner and kill someone as a result? That’s also involuntary manslaughter. It’s the same rules for everybody. And by the way, one thing I hear all the time on the internet is well, you know, he’s an actor was a set, you know, so the same rules don’t apply. Now, folks, there’s no actor exception to the involuntary manslaughter statute. If you’re an actor, you don’t get a freebie reckless homicide. Union rules or set rules or Hollywood rules don’t Trump criminal law, you’re subject to the same criminal laws everybody else.
Loesch That’s a very good point as well. And I’ve seen that I’ve seen that argument made quite a bit as it relates to well, he didn’t really know what he was doing there should be no, no,, no that really is you said there’s there aren’t any freebies which this is this is what I thought was interesting, too. And I was speaking with our friend, no relation to Alec Baldwin, Adam Baldwin, who is also an actor. He had brought up the possibility of maybe which I know does not in any way absolve Baldwin of any kind of liability and and culpability and responsibility where it relates to he was the one handling the firearm. But he did bring up how the production crew how weapons were handled, and maybe that whole system had been altered because of Coronavirus protocol. And I saw this actually, this is a Deadline Hollywood piece now. And they were they were discussing whether or not this actually did in fact, maybe perhaps impact at what point firearms were brought out how they were brought out how the live training and the live fire gotten mixed with, you know, the blanks in the blank loading area. What are your thoughts on that? And is there I would imagine there has to be some kind of standard operating procedure on film sets to make sure that they prevent this happen just to get them insured.
Branca Sure. Well, this was clearly an aberrant event, right. In my opinion, this is not a Hollywood problem. This is a rust set problem and an Alec Baldwin problem. Hollywood handles guns all the time. Accidental unintentional negligent shootings of people onset almost never happens. If it happens once every decade, we’re shocked at the event. So Hollywood actually has a very good track record for the safe handling of firearms. So something went badly off the rails here. And there may well be other people on the set who are going to bear their own share of liability here either negligent liability in the civil suit or criminal liability and go to prison. That’s possible. But it does nothing to diminish the ultimate responsibility of the person who decided to press the trigger. Yeah, that’s the route of course clearing the gun,
Loesch Which are talking with our friend Andrew Branca who is a self defense attorney. He knows this all too well knows the sets. And that’s a very good point that you that I had not thought of we really don’t hear about this. I think the last I know that there have been instances but they’re a hand tiny handful considering the long decades long history of making films and how many films are made. Hollywood does even though they do continually kind of I think argue against to a rights they do have a good safety record for the most part. And so that really underscores how this was limited to this set, which I’m wondering if there I mean, obviously you’re talking about involuntary manslaughter. i And there’s going to be criminal charges. Obviously there would be there’s there were I can’t imagine there not being a civil suit. But in terms of negligence, too. I’ve seen a lot of directors now say oh we want to ban and who was it a jewel? One Juliana Moore was one out there promoting this petition, where they were Julianne Moore was saying we want to make sure that we remove firearms from the sets of all films. Well apparently the word on the street is that somebody like Scorsese, Martin Scorsese opposes this, so it’s not going to go anywhere. And he and apparently the citation Andrew was exactly what you were saying Hollywood has a good track record and dealing with firearms. So I would imagine there’s negligence charges that are going to go along with this because this guy not only manslaughter but he was he ran the whole set.
Branca Oh, there’s certainly going to be civil lawsuits over this. That’s a no brainer. I actually don’t know if there will be criminal charges. I mean, certainly there’s a there’s a basis for criminal charges here. But whether or not charges abroad or in the discretion of whoever the local prosecutor is in the Santa Fe area, and they can choose to bring charges or to not bring charges, it’s their call and then high profile cases like this, often the charging decision becomes as much political as legal. I have no doubt if Alec Baldwin is charged with involuntary manslaughter and put in front of a jury. I mean, the prospects of him getting convicted on that charge are overwhelming. But whether they’ll make the political decision to put him in front of a jury is completely unpredictable, because it’s up to that local prosecutor.
Loesch Yeah, up to that local prosecutor talk with Andrew Branca about this case, one of the things I find incredibly unfair. And again, I know this does not change at all whatsoever that responsibility or absolve Baldwin of the responsibility of what took place is there’s a lot of, I think, an unequal amount of heat that has been focused on the armor. What I understand that they had union workers that what there was they walked off set apparently, like the day that this happened, and they had brought in someone who as a replacement, which again, has no impact on you know, the responsibility, what happened. And it seems to me that there is a definitive push to saddle this one person with the entirety of the blame. And some of the approaches to this, I really find objectionable. But I wanted to get your thoughts.
Branca First of all, all this trouble that was happening on the set and the prior safety violations and breaches and concerns and all of this, frankly, that only makes Alec Baldwin’s failure to check the gun more egregious, because he was aware that this stuff was going on. So there was a higher than normal risk. If he had a super competent arm or who done it for decades never had a safety issue before ever, especially on the set. Maybe you could forgive him for taking the chance of not checking the gun maybe. But when you know you’re having safety problems on set and not check the gun under those circumstances is really egregious. The other thing I would say is it’s pretty. I’m speculating, of course, but based on my personal experience, it’s pretty obvious to me that the Baldwins or someone acting on their behalf has retained a crisis management firm to misdirect attention away from Baldwin by whatever means is necessary. And of course, the traditional method of doing that is finding a scapegoat is finding someone else to take the heat rather than your client. And that’s what we’re doing with this armor. Now, she may were may well bear some responsibility here, I don’t know. But whatever she might have done again, would have caused no harm. But for the fact that Alec Baldwin failed to make sure the gun didn’t have ammo before he pointed it at Miss Hutchins and press that trigger.
Loesch Just such an unfortunate story one that could have been prevented maybe now Andrew, more people will listen when we discuss firearm safety and responsibility. Maybe, maybe I hope so. Because that’s I mean, the reason that we talk about it is not to be petty it’s because of to save lives. That’s ultimately what it is Andrew Branca, we would love to have you back law of self defense.com You just need to go and read his analysis of this case. We will definitely have you back. We’re not going to wait as long as we did. Thank you so much. So good to see you.
Branca Thank you, Dana. Okay.
Andrew Guest Appearance on the Dana Loesch Show – Law of Self Defense is written byAttorney Andrew Brancafor lawofselfdefense.com