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Using Prop Guns In Film Making Can Still Be Fatal And Here’s Why!

Guns are extremely hazardous, regardless of the ammo used. In movie sets, using fake tools or also known as ‘props’ are very common. However, it is not always the case.

People often presume it refers to toy guns that discharge caps to make smoke or non-functional weaponry like those used in theatrical plays. While those are prop firearms as well, the term can also refer to real guns that are utilized as props.

Picture: South China Morning Post

There is an issue with the way technical jargon is used within a profession and everyday language might clash. In the days since the tragedy, on-set armorers have stressed that replicas and inert toys are referred to as “props,” whereas genuine guns are referred to as “real.” However, these terms might be misinterpreted, for as when a genuine pistol is referred to as a “prop.”

The justification for using a real gun in production is simple: verisimilitude. Close-up shots, in particular, benefit from the use of genuine weaponry. A genuine gun looks weigh, and handles differently from an inert prop, as anyone who has actually held one can attest.

How can it be dangerous?

Incidents involving prop guns are quite uncommon. Accidents on set do happen, even when blanks are used instead of living ammo, due to the inherent risk of utilizing a real handgun. The absence of a bullet is the only difference between blanks and regular rounds. Blank bullets retain the cartridge casing and gunpowder, leaving only the projectile itself out of the sound, muzzle flash, and recoil experienced when firing a standard rifle. This implies that if you’re close enough to your target, the force of the blank firing is still powerful enough to cause significant damage.

Picture: BBC

A blank cartridge is a shorthand form of the full term “blank.” A cartridge is a unit of ammunition that is put into the barrel of a gun and is made up of many components: the casing, the propellant substance (gunpowder) inside the shell, a primer on the bottom of the cartridge, and the projectile (bullet) itself.

When you pull the trigger, the firing pin hits the primer, igniting the gunpowder and generating a superheated gas explosion that drives the bullet out of the barrel. As a new cartridge is placed into the chamber, the shell casing is ejected from the pistol. A blank cartridge is one that has everything but the projectile at the tip. This means that if you pull the trigger, you’ll get the bang, recoil, muzzle flash, and ejected shell, but not the lethal supersonic bullet that will destroy everything you point the gun at. And whether there’s a bullet or not, anything towards the end of that barrel is in jeopardy.

Apart from blanks, there are other dangers linked with prop weapons. When a genuine weapon is involved, one that theoretically has the capability of firing a lethal round, any flaw has the potential to have significant effects. Debris, for example, can sometimes find its way inside a gun barrel, which can then be released by firing a blank. The reality is that there is always a risk whenever potentially fatal weaponry is involved.

Death Caused By Prop Guns

Picture: Showbiz Cheat Sheet

Several terrible situations with prop firearms have occurred throughout cinema history. The death of actor Brandon Lee on the set of the dark superhero film The Crow is perhaps the most famous of them. Lee was shot by a prop gun from a distance of roughly 4 meters during the filming of a scenario in which his character is murdered by a gang of thugs. When the camera stopped recording and the 28-year-old couldn’t get to his feet, it was evident that something wasn’t right. Following the incident, it was discovered that the gun had been loaded with badly constructed dummy rounds, resulting in a bullet becoming trapped in the weapon’s barrel. The blanks used in the scene subsequently detonated with enough energy to release the trapped bullet, which was launched at Lee and struck him in the belly. After six hours of emergency surgery, he was pronounced dead.

Picture: Entertainment Weekly

In another incident, on the set of the upcoming western Rust, the film’s cinematographer, 42-year-old Halyna Hutchins, was killed, and director Joel Souza was seriously injured in an accidental shooting on Thursday in New Mexico. When an actor fired a prop gun, it appeared to malfunction.

Incompetence or malice do not have to be the source of mistakes. Even minor errors can lead to a potentially deadly situation. As a result, it’s critical that experienced experts oversee all elements of gun use on film and television sets. Thankfully, these kinds of instances are few and few between. Given the inherent risks, many people are questioning whether or not the practice of employing blanks should continue.

Sources: Screen Rant, The Wrap, BBC News

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