DGA, IATSE “Disappointed On California Legislature Inaction On Gun Safety For Film, TV Sets

A bill that would have regulated the use of guns on film and TV sets in California has failed to make it through the state legislature.

The DGA and IATSE issued a joint statement expressing its displeasure.

“The DGA and IATSE are disappointed and disheartened that this critical legislation, which would have required important safety protections for our members and all workers in our industry, was not passed into law during this legislative session,” the unions said. “Unfortunately, we were unable to get the studios to support significant, meaningful and practical safety reforms that they currently implement in other parts of the world. We remain committed to reforms that protect our members through negotiations with the studios or legislation in California and other states. Those changes require prioritizing safety and allocating resources to make it happen on the ground.”

The two unions supported Senate Bill 831, which was introduced in the wake of the accidental shooting death of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins and the wounding of director Joel Souza on the New Mexico set of the film Rust last October.

The bill would have prohibited ammunition on film, television, and commercial sets except in prescribed circumstances, subject to certain safety rules and laws. It would also require employers to ensure that any employee responsible for handling, or in proximity to, firearms on set completes a specific firearm training or equivalent training.

Employers would have had to hire a qualified set safety supervisor for all film and TV productions to perform a risk assessment to be completed prior to the first day of production on a feature, an episode of a series, or a program. That person would be on set daily to ensure cast and crew are not engaged in or exposed to an environment or activity that puts workers’ health and safety at risk.

It would have allowed the use of a firearm and blank ammunition containing gunpowder or other explosive charge on productions only for specified purposes and under specified safety conditions, and require a qualified armorer, property master, or designee handling a firearm in the course of production to have a specified state permit. The armorer would have completed certain training in firearms, and to have a specified federal document for the possession and custody of the firearm.

The bill would also have required employers to document and report any incident involving a firearm or blank ammunition that occurs during a film or television production.

The Motion Picture Association had backed a competing and more narrowly focused bill – SB 829 – that also didn’t make it through the state legislature. That bill, with prescribed exceptions, would have prohibited the use of ammunition in the production of a film or TV show, and would have authorized the use of a firearm on a production if it is used with blanks and remains under the supervision of an armorer at all times. It would also have prohibited an armorer from having any other duties, responsibilities, or obligations during the time that a performer is using a firearm and require employers to ensure that a fire code official is present on any production during the time any firearm and blanks are used in the production.

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