The film’s director Joel Souza, 48, was also injured during the incident.
Prop master Joseph Fisher told CNN on Friday that extreme safety measures are taken when it comes to weapons on set.
“Typically we will do a safety brief with the cast and crew,” he said. “We’ll let them examine it, we’ll explain safety precautions that go with each type of prop weapon. In this case [the “Rust” incident], it was a blank firing weapon and with that there are inherent risks.”
Fisher mentioned the case of actor Brandon Lee who died in 1993 after a prop gun accident in which the tip of a dummy bullet accidentally ended up lodged in the gun, which resulted Lee being wounded in the abdomen.
The prop master said even when there is no “bullet” in a prop gun, there are still projectiles, including gun powder and gas which can be dangerous within a certain range.
They range, he said, from “a completely fake firearm that’s been constructed” from materials such as rubber or wood to an actual working gun or a formerly working gun that has been rendered inoperable.
Simmons explained that the type of gun used depends on the production, but often guns that fire blanks are used on sets.
“It doesn’t mean the blank rounds are safe because if you were to get in the way of that or get too close to it, lots of dirt and debris can get thrown out the end of the gun, and that can cause harm,” Simmons said. “It’s extremely rare for it to happen and it’s even rarer for it to cause death.”
“The reason is simple: We want the scene to look as real as possible. We want the story and characters to be believable,” Brown wrote. “Blanks help contribute to the authenticity of a scene in ways that cannot be achieved in any other manner. If the cinematographer is there to paint a story with light and framing, firearms experts are there to enhance a story with drama and excitement.”
The more gunpowder that is used, the bigger the flash and blast from a prop gun. Brown’s piece reiterated that using blanks still requires someone on set who is experienced with firearms.
“Blanks expel gunpowder and hot gases out of the front of the barrel in a cone shape,” he wrote. “This is harmless at longer ranges, but the explosion can seriously injure someone if it’s too close.”
Daniel Oates, former police chief for Miami Beach, Florida, and Aurora, Colorado, told CNN that in policing “you treat every gun as if it’s dangerous and it’s loaded all the time.”
And while prop guns on sets generally use blanks instead of live ammunition, Oates explained that they all use powder as a charge agent and wading to create the noise and visual of an actual gun shot.
“Even at close range these weapons can be very, very dangerous,” he said.
The Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Office said the investigation into what happened on the set of “Rust” is “open and active” and no charges have been filed.