Alec Baldwin, I get you — it’s time to call bull on those who say guns are safe

Alec Baldwin is seen on set immediately following the shooting of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins and director Joel Souza
Alec Baldwin is seen Oct. 21, 2021, on set immediately following the shooting of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins and director Joel Souza.
(Via Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Office)

Lookout columnist Claudia Sternbach understands Alec Baldwin, at least a little. At least his stunned, nauseated reaction after he accidentally killed cinematographer Halyna Hutchins while filming “Rust” in October 2021. Sternbach, too, has felt sick this week, as tragedies in Monterey Park and Half Moon Bay enveloped us. “In both cases, the people in charge of the deadly weapons all claim that the guns were stored or handled properly,” she writes. “They are positive no one was in danger. Well, isn’t it time to call bull?”

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It has been difficult not to have sympathy for the actor Alec Baldwin after seeing a photograph taken of him right after the accidental October 2021 shooting of Halyna Hutchins, the cinematographer on the set of the movie “Rust.”

Claudia Sternbach

Baldwin, shown bending at the waist as if vomiting, is obviously overwhelmed by what has just happened. What he has just done. He has killed someone. She is dead.

Baldwin will be charged with two counts of involuntary manslaughter. Rust armorer Hannah Gutierrez Reed will also be charged with two counts of involuntary manslaughter.

Three weeks ago, a 6-year-old boy in Newport News, Virginia, took a loaded gun to Richneck Elementary School in his backpack and shot his 25-year-old teacher, Abby Zwerner, in the chest. According to police, the shooting was not accidental. The 6-year-old stood up from his desk in the middle of the lesson and shot her. In front of the other children. Can you imagine the post-traumatic stress disorder those first graders will have?

Zwerner sustained life-threatening injuries, but survived. Can you wrap your brain around the trauma she is experiencing?

Both of these incidents have something in common.

In both cases, the people in charge of the deadly weapons all claim that the guns were stored or handled properly. They are positive no one was in danger. Well, isn’t it time to call bull-shite?

There is no such thing as a safe gun. Because there is no such thing as a perfect person. People screw up. And then bad things happen.

A talented young woman bleeds out on the dusty ground while others try to save her. A young teacher’s chest explodes as she falls to the floor in front of a room filled with 6-year-olds.

In the United States, we have less than 5% of the world’s population, yet we own 45% of the world’s guns. We rank highest in firearms per capita. The U.S. also has the highest homicide-by-firearm rate of the world’s most-developed nations. There are many gun-rights supporters who claim that the one has nothing to do with the other.

Again, bull.

Maybe the Second Amendment experiment has failed. We can’t be trusted with guns.

I debated whether or not to write about my feelings about firearms again. I mean, I don’t want to repeat myself. But hey, the hits just keep on coming.

A large group of folks celebrating the Lunar New Year in Monterey Park were gathered at the Star Ballroom Dance Studio on Saturday when a gunman walked in and killed 11 people and wounded seven. He then killed himself.

On Monday, seven people, right up the coast in Half Moon Bay, lost their lives to a gunman. On Tuesday, three people died when a 21-year-old walked into a Circle K gas station convenience store in Yakima, Washington, and randomly shot them as they got food. He then called his mom and killed himself.

As of Wednesday night, there had been, in the first three weeks of 2023, 39 mass shootings in the United States. If you aren’t gobsmacked by that number, I get it. We have seemingly accepted that this is what America is.

Our love of guns has eclipsed our love of life. We can’t deny it.

Our films glorify gun violence. Our television shows. Our politicians seem to be on board with accepting that guns are part of some kind of macho American independence.

Oh sure. They make fervent, public calls for gun control. But few seem to have an appetite for actually doing the hard work of limiting them.

The latest news is that the film Baldwin was shooting (literally) will resume and be completed. Am I the only one who is sickened by that notion?

Don’t tell me about the cost involved. Or the desire to make some kind of artistic statement. I picture producers thinking, if not saying it outright behind closed doors, that crowds will come pouring into the theaters to see the movie where Alec Baldwin killed a woman. It is just a hair away from being a snuff film.

How about if, instead, a documentary is made and the viewers are invited to watch as the families of the farmworkers in Half Moon Bay identify their loved ones after they have been slaughtered? Or a film focused on the long rehab of a young teacher who was trying only to teach and inspire a room filled with first graders?

Or let’s talk to the family members of those who died welcoming the Lunar New Year. Let’s attend the funerals of those whose lives ended in a blast of bullets. How are they feeling about guns in America?

Until we change the laws, we are, every one of us, complicit.

Just thinking about it all, I can totally relate to Baldwin.

I, too, want to stand by the side of the road, hands on my knees, and vomit.

Claudia Sternbach is the author of three memoirs. Her most recent is “Dear Goldie Hawn, Dear Leonard Cohen” (Paper Angel Press), which also includes stories about her sisters. Her previous piece for Lookout, about the historic storms ran Jan. 10.

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