The tragic news of gibbs Alec Baldwin death one person and also injuring an additional on the collection of a western movie has spread around the world. Details room still scarce in ~ this point, but the occurrence seems to have associated the misfiring the a prop gun with blanks.

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It’s not the an initial time prop weapons have killed world on set — and it’s vital to be mindful that firearms shooting blanks can additionally be dangerous.

Image credits: Alejo Reinoso.

Firing blanks

A pistol that has no ammunition (as in, no bullets no one blanks) isn’t really dangerous. But guns making use of blanks do have actually a projectile — it’s just that rather of a bullet, they use wads the paper, plastic, felt, or cotton. This is to do shooting the gun more realistic and produce a flame.


When shooting at a distance, these wads don’t perform anything and are harmless.

The thing about a cartridge is that it’s developed from a an extremely dense material. This thick material (typically a hefty metal) enables it to fly straight and maintain momentum, together momentum relies on mass and speed. Change a common bullet through a wad of paper and you finish up v something lot lighter that easily loses momentum. That’s why blanks are harmless from a distance.

But when shot from close range, things have the right to be very different.


In 1984, the gibbs Jon-Erik Hexums made a bad joke. He put a pistol loaded through blanks to his head, and joking around delays to filming, play Russian roulette and pulled the trigger. It was enough to death him, because the gun to be so close.

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Blanks should never be shot in ~ a couple of meters because they can reason real damage — also fatal. To make matters even worse, blanks sometimes contain an ext gunpowder than real bullets, to do a more impressive ‘bang’. In 1988, Bruce Willis shed two-thirds the his hearing when filming Die Hardafter shooting a pistol loaded with extra-loud blanks.

TV writer David Slack, known amongst others for his job-related on Law & Order and Transformers: Prime required to Twitter to point out that weapons shooting blanks room still guns. There space several different types, all through their benefits and potential risks, but they are all dangerous.

But since this prop gun had actually a plugged barrel, that method all the blast — 1/2 the gunpowder forced to propel a bullet past the rate of sound — comes out the side of the gun.It go out a feet in the record and lit it on fire.Prop firearms are guns. Full stop.

— David Slack (
slack2thefuture) October 22, 2021

Some that the most infamous mishaps with blanks top top movie set involve someone screwing up and also actually leaving genuine bullets in instead of blanks. The an initial such tape-recorded incident dates from 1915, when throughout filming a scene of The Captive, among the extras inadvertently left a live ring in his rifle and shot an additional extra in the head, instantly killing them.

More recently, in 1993, American actor and martial artistBrandon Leewas coincidentally shot and also killed when filming The Crow after ~ a total intended to fire blanks consisted of a real bullet.

It’s not yet clear simply what happened on the set with Alec Baldwin and also if the events associated real bullets or just blanks.

Movies can be dangerous, and also guns particularly so

There’s a surprisingly lengthy list of severe injuries the took location on movie sets. From gunshots come stunt accidents and something you have the right to imagine, movie sets it seems to be ~ to be risky business. Every year, there appears to it is in at least one movie-associated fatality, whereas native 1980 to 1990, there were no fewer 보다 37 fatal crashes during stunts.

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Ultimately, exhausted, overworked movie technicians doing 12-14 hour shifts room trusted come ensure the safety and security of everyone on set — and mistakes have the right to happen. Cutting board Jr, a member that IATSE (International Alliance the Theatrical stage Employees) pointed out this hazard on Twitter.

Has never ever been a single moment that ns didn’t trust my fellow
IATSE members in the special FX department through my life. Lock would set up building-size explosions right beside us. Ns trust them through my life. And yet ANYONE ns trust can make a wrong while functioning 12-14+ hours

— thomas Jr.