Well, not murder exactly, but manslaughter. As you might have heard by now, New Mexico special prosecutors have filed to dismiss the case against Alec Baldwin in the shooting death of Halyna Hutchins in October of 2021. He had been charged with two counts of involuntary manslaughter, but with those charges dropped, his future seems unclear.
The prosecutors indicated that Baldwin is not completely off the hook, however, saying that “This decision does not absolve Mr. Baldwin of criminal culpability and charges may be refiled. Our follow-up investigation will remain active and on-going.” It is not clear exactly why they chose to drop the charges, other than to give more time for “further investigation and forensic analysis.” According to ABC News, an anonymous source alleges that the revolver Baldwin used to kill Hutchins may have fired unintentionally due to mechanical failure. This directly conflicts with an FBI testing report that states in no uncertain terms that the revolver was in proper working order and could not have fired without the trigger being pulled.
Alec Baldwin has repeatedly claimed that he did not pull the trigger, but anyone at least somewhat competent with firearms knows it matters little much whether that is true. Even if he did not pull the trigger, Baldwin is still responsible for wrongfully killing Hutchins, as he violated at least two of the basic safety rules we all know by heart—to keep the muzzle pointed in a safe direction and to treat every gun as though it is loaded. As an unwritten corollary to the latter, everyone who handles a firearm has a responsibility to personally verify whether it is loaded. At the end of the day, even on the off chance that the FBI was wrong and the revolver did fire unintentionally, Baldwin still behaved in a manner totally inconsistent with commonly accepted safety principles.
The irony should be lost on no one that Alec Baldwin, as a prominent anti-gun agitator, killed an innocent person with a gun. He has publicly called for “gun safety” laws in the past, but his own failure to exercise real gun safety cost a woman her life. This hypocritical attitude it unfortunately common among those who oppose the right to keep and bear arms; they spend so much time and effort deriding honest gun owners for supposedly being unsafe, but few of them care to actually learn about safe firearm handling for themselves. This needs to stop.
A strong safety culture in the firearm owner community has made accidental shooting deaths exceptionally rare in the U.S., but we can always do better. With or without any form of gun control, storage mandates included, accidental or negligent discharges are always possible due to improper handling. Given that it only takes a few minutes to learn how to handle a gun safely, everyone—even people who don’t own guns—should take the time to become familiar with the fundamental rules of gun safety. That way, mechanical failure or no, Halyna Hutchins would still be alive today.