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Alec Baldwin charged under gun law that did not exist when the Rust shooting took place

Alec Baldwin charged under gun law that did not exist when the Rust shooting took place

The actor is facing a charge of involuntary manslaughter and a 'firearm enhancement' which carries an additional five-year penalty

Alec Baldwin has been charged under a gun law that didn't exist when the shooting on the set of Rust took place.

Last month the 64-year-old actor was formally charged with involuntary manslaughter over the death of Halyna Hutchins.

Hutchins was killed after a prop gun held by Baldwin was discharged on the set in New Mexico in October 2021.

Director Joel Souza was also wounded in the shooting on the Bonanza Creek Ranch set near Santa Fe, New Mexico, although no charges have been filed regarding this incident.

Alec Baldwin on the set of rust.
Zuma Press / Alamy Stock Photo

Baldwin is also facing a 'firearms enhancement' charge which could lead to an additional five-year penalty because a firearm was involved.

The enhancement did not come into law until May 2022, seven months after Hutchins was killed.

This detail has now raised questions over whether prosecutors can pursue the additional five-year term from the enhancement.

Charges have also been filed against the set’s armourer, Hannah Gutierrez Reed.

The issue was first flagged in the legal podcast Serious Trouble by criminal attorney Caitlin Smith who is based in New Mexico.

“They probably shouldn’t have charged it,” Smith told Variety, explaining that the defence could file a pre-trial motion to have the enhancement thrown out.

When Rust was in production, New Mexico law did allow for a three-year enhancement for ‘brandishing’ a firearm but the term was defined as requiring ‘intent to intimidate or injure a person’.

Image of the gun fired by Baldwin on the Rust set shooting.
Zuma Press/Alamy Stock Photo

Involuntary manslaughter, however, refers to the killing. The version of the firearm enhancement that was in place at the time of the shooting went into effect in July 2020.

The term ‘use’ was swapped with ‘brandishing’ to limit the circumstances that the enhancement could be used.

By 2022, it was decided by the legislator that the definition was too narrow and was changed by adding a five-year enhancement for discharging a firearm in the course of any non-capital felony. This is what prosecutors are seeking to punish Baldwin and Gutierrez Reed with.

Halyna Hutchins was fatally shot on set.
Barry King / Alamy Stock Photo

Both face an 18-month prison sentence without the enhancement in place, however with it the sentence increases to six and a half years.

A spokesperson for the office of the First Judicial District Attorney Mark Carmack-Alwies and appointed special prosecutor Andrea Reed, who are reviewing the issue, said: “The District Attorney and special prosecutor are actively reviewing all applicable laws to ensure they have the strongest case to secure justice for Halyna Hutchins.”

The first hearing will be conducted over Google Meet on 24 February when Baldwin and Gutierrez Reed will make their initial appearances in court.

Featured Image Credit: ZUMA Press, Inc. / Alamy Stock Photo

Topics: Film and TV, Celebrity, Good News, Alec Baldwin