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Breaking News Alert This Week In Lawfare Land: 'Deadly Force'

Alec Baldwin Baffled That He, Not The Gun, Will Be Charged With Manslaughter

Alec Baldwin in ABC News interview
Image CreditABC News/YouTube

District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies announced plans on Thursday to charge actor and anti-gun activist Alec Baldwin with two counts of involuntary manslaughter in the fatal shooting of Halyna Hutchins on the set of the Western movie “Rust.” Baldwin is responsible for pointing the gun at Hutchins and failing to make sure the gun and supposedly dummy ammunition were properly checked, according to prosecutors.

Despite his blatant disregard for gun safety, Baldwin is bewildered punishment has been levied against him, with his attorney claiming the charges are a “terrible miscarriage of justice.” As an anti-Second Amendment activist who has a habit of demonizing the gun in criminal shootings instead of the person pulling the trigger, Baldwin is probably perplexed that he, not the weapon itself, is being slapped with criminal charges.

According to Baldwin, everyone and everything are to blame for the shooting, except himself. To skirt responsibility, Baldwin has insisted that staff told him the weapon was unloaded and even that he did not pull the trigger (a claim the FBI forensic report stated is implausible). Yet even if Baldwin’s gun had fired without him pulling the trigger, Baldwin would still be at fault for failing to follow safety protocol.

As John R. Lott Jr., president of the Crime Prevention Research Center, writes, “The first rule of gun safety is you don’t point a gun at something unless you intend to shoot it. Even if you believe the gun is unloaded, you don’t point it directly at others.” Baldwin failed to follow the first rule when he carelessly pointed his gun at Hutchins.  

“The idea that the person holding the gun and causing it to discharge is not responsible is absurd,” said Halyna’s husband, Matt Hutchins, in an interview with Today. As absurd as it might seem, though, that’s exactly what Baldwin and other anti-gun activists want us to believe. 

Baldwin has been heavily critical of the National Rifle Association (NRA) and other pro-Second Amendment groups. In 2018, he joined a swath of other Hollywood elites in a “No Rifle Association Initiative,” which sought to reduce the NRA’s influence. Baldwin got into a Twitter spat with former NRA spokeswoman Dana Loesch that same year, tweeting that Loesch “doesn’t care how many dead bodies she has to step over in [her] pursuit” of defending the Second Amendment, adding that the Second Amendment needs to be “rethought.” 

Baldwin and the other anti-Second Amendment activists apparently missed philosophy 101. Inanimate objects, like firearms, are not intrinsically evil. The actions of a gun-wielder, however, can be. 

Take for example last July, when three people were killed and two others were injured when a gunman opened fire at a mall in Greenwood, Indiana. Another man that day also fired a gun: a legally armed 22-year-old who was at the mall during the shooting and killed the assailant. Both men fired guns, but one took the lives of three innocent people, while the other heroically saved more bystanders from harm by neutralizing an active threat. 

Baldwin did not intentionally kill Hutchins, but he is responsible for his negligence. His disregard for gun safety could be compared to a distracted driver accidentally hitting and killing a pedestrian. The driver did not mean to hit the person, but his irresponsible decisions resulted in death, leaving him to bear some level of culpability. 

Baldwin’s apparent guilt, rooted in his own actions, is consistent with foundational principles of natural law. As St. Thomas Aquinas writes in the Summa Theologica, “if a man … be occupied with something unlawful, or even with something lawful, but without due care, he does not escape being guilty of murder, if his action results in someone’s death.”

Ultimately, Baldwin’s failure to take personal responsibility is emblematic of the entire anti-Second Amendment movement. The unconstitutional gun “reforms” (i.e., bans) that Baldwin and other anti-gun activists advocate for lay blame for gun-related homicides on the firearms, not the shooters. Such an approach treats the symptom, not the disease — and makes as much logical sense as Baldwin trying to duck the blame for his own actions.

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