In a TV interview with ABC’s George Stephanopoulos, actor Alec Baldwin said he never pulled the trigger of the gun that killed Rust’s director of photography and wounded the director. Here is visual proof that what he said could not possibly be true. He had to have his finger on the trigger to make that gun fire. Watch the video discussing the Rust shooting.

Baldwin said lots of things during his interview that just don’t add up. He told the interviewer that he “never” pointed the gun at Halyna Hutchins. False. A bullet flies in a straight line. For the bullet to hit her the gun had to be pointed at her.

Then he goes on to say he never pulled the trigger. False. In order for that gun to be made to fire, he had to have the trigger pressed to the rear. Let’s go into why.

The Gun Alec Baldwin Used on Set of ‘Rust’

Baldwin was using a Pietta revolver. It is an Italian-made replica of the Colt Model P, commonly called the Single Action Army revolver. Pietta’s own advertising states that the guns are identical and made to ensure complete interchangeability of parts. So we took an original Colt revolver to show just how it works.

Baldwin claimed he was trying to get the right angles for the upcoming cinematic shot. In doing so, he said, he pointed the gun and retracted the hammer a “little bit,” while asking how it looked. He then said, “I cock the gun … I let go of the hammer, and the gun goes off.” (From :50 to :57.)

That is patently false. On the underside of the hammer, hidden from view inside the frame, the hammer of a Colt Single Action Army (SAA) revolver has a series of three notches that catch the hammer spring and hold the hammer in position as it moves through the cocking process.

The first of these cuts engages the spring after the hammer is moved just over 1/8th of an inch. That cut is deep and includes a lip to prevent the hammer spring from slipping out. This is the safety position. When the hammer is pulled just over 1/8th of an inch, the spring drops into this notch, locking the hammer into position.

On a blue background, a Colt Single Action Army revolver hammer clearly shows the notches that lock the gun from firing.

A Colt SAA hammer. Notice the notches.

How the Shooting Must Have Happened

In fact, the entire mechanism is locked. The cylinder will not turn. Even if you pull the trigger, the gun can’t be made to fire at this point. And, if your finger is not on the trigger — even if you pull the hammer back and let it slip off your thumb — the notch will catch the spring and stop the hammer travel. The gun won’t fire … unless of course you have the trigger pressed to the rear.

The next notch is the “half-cock” notch, and it is much the same. However, moving the hammer of a SAA to the half-cock position will allow you to rotate the cylinder to load and unload the gun. Even at this half-cock notch, the hammer will not fall unless the trigger is pressed to the rear. Flicking the hammer and releasing it does nothing. Watch the video we made.

Finally, pulling the hammer all the way back gets you to what is called “fully cocked.” In this position, the hammer is locked to the rear, and the gun is ready to fire when the trigger is pulled. At this point it only takes a light pull of the trigger to make the gun fire. But you must keep the trigger pressed all the way to the rear as the hammer travels through its full arc to have the firing pin strike the primer. True this only takes a fraction of a second. But if you take your finger off the trigger, the hammer spring will catch on the half-cock notch or the safety notch and will effectively stop the hammer from falling.

Baldwin Pulled the Trigger in ‘Rust’ Shooting

In short, a properly maintained SAA revolver will not fire unless the trigger is pulled.

This leaves only one remaining element to consider. Perhaps all three notches on the underside of the hammer were so badly worn or broken that they would not hold the hammer spring. It is a simple matter to take the gun from the evidence locker and have a gunsmith verify the condition of the hammer and hammer spring. If both of those are fine, then Baldwin must have had his finger on the trigger while he was working the hammer and pointing the gun at Hutchins. There is no other explanation for how she got shot.

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