Recent statements by Santa Fe’s Democrat D.A. Mary Carmack-Altwies seems to point to good news for Alec Baldwin in the Rust shooting that killed cinematographer Halyna Hutchins in October.

According to Vanity Fair, D.A. Carmack-Altwies seems open to accepting Baldwin’s claim that he didn’t pull the trigger on the gun that killed Hutchins and wounded the film’s director, Joel Souza.

In a December 2 interview with ABC’s George Stephanopoulos, Baldwin claimed he didn’t actually fire the gun he was given and that it seemed to go off by itself.

“I didn’t pull the trigger,” Alec Baldwin told Stephanopoulos. “I would never point a gun at anyone and pull the trigger at them. Never.”

Now, it appears that Carmack-Altwies is prepared to buy that claim.

TMZ, reporting on Vanity Fair‘s paywalled article, noted that Carmack-Altwies says she has performed tests that she claims shows that the gun could have malfunctioned and the hammer could have hit the cartridge without the trigger being pulled.

The D.A.’s determination is critical in this case because if she buys the story that Baldwin didn’t pull the trigger, that will materially affect any charges that could be filed against the actor.

Baldwin’s claim that he didn’t pull the trigger, though, has come under scrutiny from gun experts. The actor was reportedly using a single action revolver during the blocking of the movie scene when the shooting occured. And a single action pistol has a two-stage hammer position. When cocking, the first stage is called “half cock,” and it is a safety lock preventing the hammer from accidentally slamming down on the cartridge and firing the gun.

But in half cock, the trigger mechanism does not work and cannot fire the gun when depressed. Also, if a hammer is lightly pulled from half cock and does not lock into full cock, and if the hammer falls back toward the cartridge, it only falls again to half cock. And again, it does not fire the cartridge.

The only way a single action trigger works is for the hammer to be cocked the rest of the way to the full cock position. Full cock is the only time the trigger is engaged and can be depressed to fire the gun.
In a fully functional single action pistol, the only way a cartridge can fire is if the hammer was pulled back to full cock and the trigger is then pulled.

There is one other option. A single action revolver will also fire if the user is holding down the trigger while pulling the hammer back. If the trigger is depressed while pulling the hammer back, the locks on the trigger never engage. But, again, Baldwin claimed he never touched the trigger.

The only other way a single action gun can fire is if the gun itself is not in proper repair and the half cock is broken or does not properly engage.

If the D.A. has evidence that the pistol used during the incident is not in proper working order, she has not released that information. But it seems likely that the only way Baldwin could have had the gun go off without having pulled the trigger is if the mechanics of the pistol were faulty or broken.

Ultimately, it is unclear if D.A. Carmack-Altwies, a Democrat who was elected to her position in 2020, understands the mechanics in question.

According to reports, Baldwin was practicing cross-drawing his pistol from a shoulder holster underneath his coat while the movie scene was being rehearsed. A lawsuit from a crew member claims the script did not call for the actor to discharge the gun or to point it in Hutchins’ direction during this scene.

While Baldwin is not yet facing any criminal charges from Santa Fe authorities, a civil lawsuit was recently filed on behalf of Hutchins’ husband and son alleging that the actor was negligent on the set of the movie.

The family charges that there were frequent and numerous safety violations on the set of Rust and attorney Brian Panish said that “reckless conduct and cost-cutting measures” by Baldwin and the film’s producers “led to the death of Halyna Hutchins.”

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