Movie Armorer – Should There Be Stricter Oversight

Movie Gun Safety
Movie Gun Safety

Have you ever wondered what you need to do to be a movie armorer and handle guns? I am surprised at that lack of oversight.

In my 50 years of handling firearms, I have had one negligent discharge (ND). I am ashamed to admit that I have found that if you handle firearms long enough, that will happen. Luckily for me, of the four rules governing firearm safety, I was fortunate enough to be following rule number two. I had the firearm pointed in a safe direction, away from anything I was not willing to destroy. I didn’t injure anyone, and that day taught me a lesson I have never forgotten, even after 30 years.

There are FOUR basic rules for handling any Firearm:

  • Always point your Firearm in a SAFE DIRECTION, meaning away from others and at nothing you are not willing to DESTROY.
  • Know what your TARGET is and what is beyond your TARGET.

I just left Albuquerque, New Mexico, a few weeks after Alec Baldwin’s story broke concerning a tragic incident that most certainly should have been avoided. Ironically, I was in Albuquerque for a National Rifle Association (NRA) training course, getting my handgun and rifle instructor certifications. Like many of you, I read the various news accounts of what had happened. I was shocked. How could three people handle a firearm, and no one checked to see if it was loaded or if it was loaded with what? This, of course, was a movie production using real firearms. So, blanks or non-firing rounds could have been in this handgun, yet no one verified what was there. Certainly, a live round (real ammunition) should not have been in the handgun at all!

How to Become an Armorer For Films

After reading the various news accounts and watching all the YouTube police interviews, I researched the whole situation myself. What shocked me the most was the qualifications, or, I should say, the lack of qualifications, to become an “Armorer” on a movie set. There are none! In short, you intern for another armorer. Then, when that armorer feels you have learned enough, you go to the State of California to get an Entertainment Firearms Permit BOF 051 Entertainment Firearms Permit Application. Then apply to the Prop Master Union; now you are an armorer!

I kid you not; that is the complete process!

Movie Armorer Qualifications

I suppose the State of California also took note of the Baldwin incident and wanted to ensure that nothing like the “Rust” incident would happen again. I found two yet differing California State Bills concerning the use of firearms on an entertainment set. They are SB 831 and SB 829, which, as far as I can figure out, are not laws. They are both still proposed state bills.

SB 831 requires a person(s) with OSHA training to always be on the set during the production and verify the firearms and ammunition.

SB 829 requires a State Fire Marshal to be on set with firearms and ammunition. I mean, no disrespect to either OSHA or State Fire Marshals, but what training do they have to make them qualified to handle firearms?

Does that make any sense to anyone reading this, because it sure doesn’t to me!


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