An attorney for the later Halyna Hutchins' family, Gloria Allred, has responded to SAG-AFTRA's defense of Alec Baldwin amid new 'Rust' shooting charges
"The notion that an actor is not responsible if that actor holds a gun, points it at someone on a movie set, and discharges the weapon flies in the face of common sense and the law," Gloria Allred said in a statement Thursday.
Baldwin was holding a prop gun in October 2021 on the set of the Western when it discharged, killing 42-year-old Hutchins and injuring director Joel Souza, 50.
The Saturday Night Live alum has repeatedly maintained that he did not know the gun mistakenly contained a live bullet, and also claimed he did not pull the trigger.
"Safety protocols may be considered at trial, but they are not the law," Allred continued in her statement. "This indictment was the result of a careful assessment by the grand jury of all the facts and the law. It is important to respect the grand jury’s decision to indict, and to allow the criminal justice system to proceed to trial where the case will be decided on its merits."
SAG-AFTRA's defense of Baldwin, 65, comes amid recent news that he has been indicted by a New Mexico grand jury and charged with involuntary manslaughter in connection with the 2021 shooting that killed Hutchins and injured Souza.
"An actor’s job is not to be a firearms or weapons expert," the union's Thursday statement read, in part. "Firearms are provided for use on set under the guidance of multiple expert professionals directly responsible for the safe and accurate operation of that firearm."
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Baldwin was previously charged with involuntary manslaughter one year ago, before charges were dropped three months later. He is now charged with involuntary manslaughter (negligent use of a firearm) or alternatively, with involuntary manslaughter (without due caution or circumspection).
With this new charge, the actor faces up to 18 months in prison, according to New Mexico law.
In their Thursday statement, SAG-AFTRA began, "To the extent that the charges filed on January 19 are based on an accusation of negligent use of a firearm predicated on this or any actor having a duty to inspect a firearm as part of its use, that is an incorrect assessment of the actual duties of an actor on set."
According to the union, "the Industry Standards for safety with firearms and use of blank ammunition are clearly laid out in Safety Bulletin 1, provided by the Joint Industry-Wide Labor Management Safety Commission."
"The guidelines require an experienced, qualified armorer to be put in charge of all handling, use, and safekeeping of firearms on set," their statement said. "These duties include 'inspecting the firearm and barrel before and after every firing sequence,' and 'checking all firearms before each use.' "
SAG-AFTRA claimed that the aforementioned guidelines "do not make it the performer’s responsibility to check any firearm," noting, "Performers train to perform, and they are not required or expected to be experts on guns or experienced in their use."
"The industry assigns that responsibility to qualified professionals who oversee their use and handling in every aspect. Anyone issued a firearm on set must be given training and guidance in its safe handling and use, but all activity with firearms on a set must be under the careful supervision and control of the professional armorer and the employer," they concluded.
Attorneys for Gutierrez-Reed declined to comment on Thursday, while legal representatives for Baldwin have not responded to PEOPLE's requests for comment.
An attorney for Hutchins' widower, Matthew Hutchins, did not immediately respond to PEOPLE's requests for comment on Thursday.
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