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Opinion | Alec Baldwin and the Gun Tragedy

To the Editor:

Re “A Famous Actor, a Gun and Death on a Film Set” (front page, Oct. 23):

The exchange of a gun by an assistant director to Alec Baldwin was inappropriate in several ways. First, an assistant director, or any crew member who is not the armorer, should only be a witness to an exchange, and should not be handling the gun at all during the exchange.

Second, even the armorer should not be grabbing a gun off a rack and handing it to someone without opening and inspecting the chambers and whether anything is in the chambers.

Best practices are to have an armorer open up the gun, check it, load it with whatever is being used and hand over the gun to the actor with a witness present every time for every scene a gun is used.

Mr. Baldwin should have asked for the armorer before accepting the gun. He should have opened the weapon himself despite what he was told. He should not have pointed the gun directly at anyone at any time. These steps should be the standard protocol.

George M. Stevens
Los Angeles
The writer is an actor and lawyer.

To the Editor:

Having worked on both low- and high-budget movies, I have been on many, many sets with weapons, and nobody has ever gotten injured with a rifle or a pistol, although with swords a couple of times.

The armorer is in charge of the weapons and ammunition. When they say “prop” guns, what they usually mean are real guns that are being used as props. First, why were live rounds ever allowed on a movie set in the first place? Second, how did live rounds find their way into a “prop” gun under any circumstance?

Alec Baldwin is 100 percent innocent. No unsuspecting actor should ever be put into the awful position that Mr. Baldwin is currently in. My heart goes out to both him and the deceased cinematographer, Halyna Hutchins.

Josh Becker
Bloomfield Hills, Mich.
The writer is a member of the Directors Guild of America.

To the Editor:

The tragic shooting on the set of the movie “Rust” underscores that our nation’s gun culture has dismayingly permeated the arts, where countless film and TV productions require prop masters to ensure that the ubiquitous display of all manner of guns and other weaponry is handled safely and properly.

Why is it that when it comes to depicting violence, in contrast with all other wondrous and enthralling film imagery, computer-generated “movie magic” is seemingly insufficient to the task, and the use of actual or realistic looking guns is deemed necessary, as was the case with the “Rust” tragedy?

Further, many of the countless movies I have watched as a lifelong moviegoer, even the ones ostensibly nonviolent, have featured at least one shooting scene, often gratuitous. To which I say: More drama, less death and destruction, please.

Mark Godes
Chelsea, Mass.

To the Editor:

Helen Keller and the Problem of ‘Inspiration Porn,’” by M. Leona Godin (Opinion guest essay, Oct. 23), is an important contribution.

As parents of a disabled daughter (now 34), we have often found that the nondisabled seek the comfort of imagining the virtues of overcoming the many disadvantages the disabled and their caregivers face. Many of these disadvantages are simply physically or mentally impossible to overcome.

One of the most pernicious and ultimately destructive ideas in current policy discussions is that all people, including the disabled, should be treated “the same.” This confuses the equity of treating similarly situated individuals in similar ways with the equity of treating differently situated individuals differently. These two forms of equity need to be balanced, so that unreasonable demands and expectations are not placed on the disabled.

An example is the campaign in many states to eliminate lower-than-minimum-wage allowances for disabled workers in places like supermarkets. The principal effect will be to eliminate opportunities for these individuals by forcing them to compete for the same jobs at the same wages with nondisabled workers.

To put it starkly: Does anyone really think that a paraplegic person can stock shelves at the same rate as a nondisabled person? Should this prevent the disabled worker from joining the work force — albeit at an adjusted lower wage? Recognizing the differences of the disabled and making social and economic adjustments, rather than romanticizing their capacity to overcome their disabilities, is more fair, just and realistic.

Susan Mackenzie Runge
Carlisle Ford Runge
Stillwater, Minn.

To the Editor:

Can we please stop using pornography as a metaphor? It was cute years ago when linked to our obsessions with cooking shows (“food porn”) or images of gorgeous houses (“real estate porn”).

The metaphor is now tired and overused. Worse, when linked to works about a human being like Helen Keller, it is deeply offensive.


Bruce Weinstein
New York

To the Editor:

Re “Democrats Must Not Underestimate Trump” (Opinion guest essay, Oct. 22):

David Brock contends that many liberal voters have taken a step back from politics and from paying attention to political news because we are no longer convinced that Donald Trump is a threat.

No. We are just exhausted.

Natalie Krauss Bivas
Palo Alto, Calif.

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