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  • 1.  Firearm safety - the times, they are a changing...

    Posted 03-12-2024 12:01

    Gather 'round folks. We're at a turning point. Ane this is no longer just for school theater, but for all entertaiment, everywhere. 

    THERE IS ABSOLUTLY ZERO, ZILCH, NADA, NONE, NO reason to have or use a fire-able gun of any sort on any stage or in a "moving picture" or any other kind of entertainment performance. PERIOD.

    We just saw a young PROFESSIONAL armoror sentenced to 18 months for negligence.

    We've had MANY people die in incidents - students, pros, big name stars, folks you've never heard of. 

    We've had people lose their hearing.

    THERE IS NO NEED to risk it.

    Director doesn't "like" it? Too bad. I'll be happy to accept my expert witness fee when they lose in court for WILLFUL negligence.
    Oh - and you'll lose too, as a knowing accomplice.

    We have sound effects for the sound.

    We have rubber and wood replicas that have no barrel or chamber for the visual.

    We can CGI or haze the "smoke" from the barrel (which, if you've ever actually fired a gun, is rarely noticeable as it dissipates quickly.)

    We do NOT need to risk human safety for this effect EVER AGAIN.


    Kristi Ross-Clausen
    Safety Maven/Consultant
    IATSE 470/Actors Equity Member
    Alliance for Wisconsin Theatre Education
    Association for Quality in AV Board
    Teacher, Author, Speaker
    Appleton, WI

  • 2.  RE: Firearm safety - the times, they are a changing...

    Posted 03-14-2024 14:56

    All things being what they are, one of these days someone is going to invent a series of weapons that look and sound just like real ones and intended for theatrical and film use. Of course, then they'll have to deal with the problem of people using them to commit crimes.

    Years ago, I worked at a theater that mounted several plays that used weapons, including To Kill a Mockingbird. We rented them from a company that specialized in converting blank "starter" pistols into other types of weapons, including Lugers, rifles, and so forth. I was the de facto armorer and treated them like real weapons, to the point of training the actors on how to use them and setting rules for how they went from the prop room to the stage and who could touch them or not. You would have thought they were real weapons. BTW, I did the same thing when we used swords, and we always hired a fight coordinator.

    Today, I'm not sure that that particular theater would even consider plays that use weapons, considering how many there are to choose from that don't. To me, that's a reasonable and safe alternative.

    George F. Ledo
    Set designer

  • 3.  RE: Firearm safety - the times, they are a changing...

    Posted 04-01-2024 16:59

    Great topic. That said, I cannot remember the last time that I used a weapon on the stage. We have a starter pistol but haven't used it in the last 10 years. As a sound designer we purchased a M Audio M-Track 8 audio system. This allows for me to have eight sends throughout our space. For Beast I was able to send the gun sfx to where the actor was located. 

    Crit Fisher
    Lighting/Sound Designer
    New Albany High School

  • 4.  RE: Firearm safety - the times, they are a changing...

    Posted 04-05-2024 13:06

    Even when using prop weapons, strict policies need to be followed.  In fact it's a good idea to have a written policy as a part of your theatre safety manual.  Here's an excerpt from my high school theatre operations book...

    District policies prohibit the carrying, possession or use of a firearm – or anything that looks like a firearm - on school premises, which includes, but is not limited to, guns, knives and swords.  Prop weapons are usually permitted in the theatre for the purposes of use during rehearsals and production only.  Prop weapons are not toys, and because a student who is caught even carrying something that looks like a weapon could be expelled you should ensure that the following procedures must be followed:
    • Theatre staff should be informed prior to the event if the event includes the use of any prop weapons.
    • Theatre staff should meet the student at their car and accompany them into the theatre. 
    • All prop weapons shall be treated as real weapons; handle prop guns as if loaded, and handle prop knives and swords as if they are sharp.
    • Prop weapons should only be available when required for a rehearsal or performance. 
    • Only the performer who is using the prop weapon, the Props Master, assigned Weapons Handler, event manager, or a PAC technician should handle any prop weapons.
    • All prop weapons should be secured in a locked room or cabinet when not in use.  

    Beth Rand, EBMS

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