Sunday, October 31, 2021

Was the Alec Baldwin Shooting Accidental?

Even casual followers of the news are aware that actor Alec Baldwin killed one associate and wounded another during a film rehearsal.  It was a horrible tragedy that captured the nation’s attention.  How could such a thing happen? This is the same question we ask when we learn that a surgeon has removed the wrong kidney.  

I’ll leave aside how much attention this tragedy has received in comparison to the intentional killings that occur daily in cities throughout the country.  While all lives are equal, it does not seem that every life receives the same attention.

Based on what is now known, it does not seem to me that this shooting was a mere accident that occurred from pure happenstance.  Of course, the shooting was not intentional, but it appears that there was a reckless disregard of established firearm safety protocols.  Investigators will surely discover how a live bullet ended up in Alec Baldwin’s gun.  More facts are emerging daily that indicate a laxity of gun safety and multiple deviations from industry standards.  I suspect that the ongoing investigation will only further highlight the negligent behaviors that culminated in a tragic homicide that should never have occurred.  Criminal charges are possible.

If my tire is punctured while driving and my car hits a tree, this is an accident.

If I notice that my front tire is deflated, and I take it for a drive anyway, is it still an accident if the tire blows and I hit a tree?

Live Rounds on the Set?

I’ll admit that I don’t know much about filmmaking, and I know even less about firearms.  But, I know quite a bit about safety processes and protocols to minimize the risk of adverse events.  We are all aware that airline pilots methodically run through a checklist before every flight to verify that everything is in proper order.  We would likely feel less secure if pilots simply took a quick scan of the cockpit and then flashed us a thumbs up.  This checklist is the result of intense research and experience and is designed to catch any item that is out of line.  The key is that this process must be faithfully executed every time without exception. 

Physicians understand this process well.  Before every surgery or medical procedure, the team participates in a ‘time out’, when the patient’s identify is confirmed as well as the intended procedure and any potentially complicating factors.  Does the x-ray with the broken hip hanging in the operating room correspond to the patient about to be put under?  Complacency and indifference can lead to tragic outcomes. We have all heard about patients who had the wrong organ removed or received medication intended for another patient.  The checklist procedure minimizes the risks of these outcomes.

I surmise that the results of the Alec Baldwin investigation will show serial deviations of process that involved multiple individuals all of which led to a horrible outcome.  Does this sound like an accident to you?


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