In an interview with ABC News in December 2021, Baldwin told George Stephanopoulos that he didn't pull the trigger during the fatal rehearsal. "I would never point a gun at anyone and pull a trigger at them, never," he said.
Naturally, Baldwin's statement has led to many people asking the same question: Is it possible for a gun to fire without the trigger being pulled? Or did he pull the trigger somehow?
Can a gun go off without the trigger being pulled?
Alec Baldwin believed he was handling a "cold gun" — without live ammunition — when the supposed prop gun fired off one live round during a rehearsal. The bullet struck Rust director, Joel Souza and Halyna Hutchins. Souza survived his injuries, but tragically, Hutchins died from her gunshot wounds at a nearby hospital.
Sante Fe County Sheriff Adan Mendoza, who is leading the homicide investigation, told Fox News Digital, "Guns don't just go off... So whatever needs to happen to manipulate the firearm, he [Baldwin] did that and it was in his hands." Weapons armorer Bryan W. Carpenter reiterated Mendoza's statement in the same report.
"In order to make it fire, you have to put your thumb up onto the hammer, cock the hammer all the way back, and then as the hammer is completely cocked back, then you pull the trigger and then the gun fires.... That gun had to have [a] two-step process to fire. It had to be cocked and the trigger pulled to fire," he said.
Carpenter noted that a prop revolver like the one Baldwin had on set would've likely had a lighter trigger in comparison to modern handguns, making the trigger easier to pull. "Once you cock the hammer back on one of those old west guns, it doesn't take a lot to set that trigger off," he explained.
The FBI's investigation into the fatal 'Rust' shooting reveals a trigger had to be pulled.
The death of Halyna Hutchins and the injury of director Joel Souza are currently under criminal investigation by the FBI. Recently, accidental discharge testing by the FBI revealed that the revolver could not have fired without the trigger being pulled, according to the FBI's report obtained by ABC News.
The report states that with the hammer in the quarter- and half-cock positions, the gun "could not be made to fire without a pull of the trigger." With the hammer fully cocked, the gun "could not be made to fire without a pull of the trigger while the working internal components were intact and functional."
With the hammer de-cocked on a loaded chamber, the gun was able to detonate a primer "without a pull of the trigger when the hammer was struck directly," which is reportedly normal for this type of revolver, the report says.
Currently, Hutchins' death has been classified as an accident. The district attorney has not made any charging decisions on the case, and according to ABC News, detectives are awaiting phone records from Baldwin as part of their investigation.